Ship / Glyph

Ship (Glyph) is a set of ten double sided 9” x 6” cards within a colorful, abstract wrapper. The set presents phrases and images from a collection of 1860s whaling journals.

The words featured on the cards were the most commonly occurring words within a broad swatch of these historic journals: day, ends, struck, light, ship, steer, strong, hours, whales, and wind. The words seemed telling of the day to day mindset of the sailors on these vessels, and the type of information which was privileged by the journal keepers on the voyage. Together, these key words paint a picture of the repetitive daily rhythm of lengthy amounts of time isolated at sea.

The only imagery on the cards is magnified pen ink blots, often intersecting with blurred handwriting beneath to create abstract shapes. I chose ten of the most striking ink and handwriting collisions to feature in the set as a sequence of invented glyphs. The word frequency studies led me to imagine a set of glyphs where the handwritten shapes and ink blots, which often naturally corresponded visually with one of the words, could stand in for one of the journal words. On the back of each card, I recontextualized phrases from a particular journal, substituting the ink glyphs I created for the frequently occurring words.

Ship (Glyph) encourages user participation in its own reading and interpretation, while exploring how a language system is created—or how a forgotten language archive can be reinvented through strategic contemporary moves.