Michael Winkler never had any plans to become an artist. On a rainy Seattle night in December of 1980, he discovered, by accident, that there are inexplicably meaningful patterns encoded in the signs for words. The relationship between the meaning of words and the patterns they create was so fascinating that he explored it all night.
The next morning, a chance encounter with a curator resulted in an offer to present the ‘word-images’ in a solo exhibition. Michael Winkler has now explored the imagery and implications of the patterning hidden in the signs of language for over 40 years. There has been support for his work, but it has also faced obstacles. It directly challenges a foundation of linguistics that underlies contemporary ideas about culture.
In this memoir, he tells the story of the discovery, and talks about the works created to explore its imagery and implications. He discusses his project’s relationship to: prehistoric markings, contemporary philosophy, mathematics, and new research into the signs of language.
His text and images present a fascinating perspective on the nature of language, in the context of the career of a unique artist.
The artist’s limited edition books and documentation of his ongoing project are archived in the Special Collections of MOMA, Brooklyn Museum, New York Public Library, The Smithsonian, Yale, Stanford, UCLA, U Chicago.