Life a User’s Manual by Georges Perec, English translation, source book for Alphabet

Spinelli, Aldo.
New York: Zucker Art Books, 2019. (BRF0455)

Number 7 of an edition of 28 copies. Source book is Life a User’s Manual by Georges Perec, English translation.

Aldo Spinelli (b. 1948) about his book Alphabet:

“This work of mine rises from the mysterious and astonishing miracle of a simple line, of a humble sign that turns into a signifier in order to express itself in a meaning as much broad and high as deep. Thatʼs, in short, the transition from gesture to language, from glyph to word.

Each text is made by words, each word by letters, each letter by different and defining characteristics that make it distinguish from the others. If “I” is settled for its verticality, “O” praises in its circularity a section with no redundancy typical of “Q” or hybridization of the segments and curves of “R”. It follows that each letter can be shut inside a framework as much elemental as rough made by a five by five box grid, filling up some of them and leaving empty some others to identify the specificity of each single symbol.

This kind of possible (and acceptable) alphabet finds in the letter atoms the molecular foundation of language. That it can be useful to say everything that can be said beyond, and thatʼs what concerns me most, to describe itself with its own instruments: letters written with letters, meta-statements made of words formed by letters. Indeed ALPHABET is just the computation of the letters, necessary to define the same number of letters used in the definition. The usual vicious (or virtuous) circle. Counting is believing in the picture below where, for example, the Italian writing centosettanta A (one hundred seventy A) is formed by 170 A and the same goes for all the other letters.”

In 2019 Spinelli decided to repeat the adventure using the English translation of Perec’s novel. In the English version of the source book, he cut out 7249 letters and pasted them on tracing paper. Bridwell Library owns the maquettes of this version and an example is included in the exhibition.

Aldo Spinelli is an Italian postwar and contemporary artist. He describes his artwork as “words to make art a game and play an art.” His artwork has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world.