Secret Languages

Secret Languages is a collaborative interdisciplinary project by Bettina Schüelke and Nina Czegledy. The project is focused on clandestine systems of languages as expressed frequently in textiles. The research is conducted in various geographical and cultural contexts, looking into different methods of how textiles are used to communicate. Secret Languages explores sophisticated pre-electronic memory devices
presenting us today with yet unsolved languages. The introductory project explores the historic khipu or talking knots from the Inca Empire. Several centuries ago a binary coding system was used to create the cotton & wool based knots. Current literature considers that the khipus did not only serve as accounting devices but were also tools for legal procedure, rituals etc. How are these objects expressing the concept of secret languages? including interpretation of the structure of the knots, their significance? Are there any similarities with other forms of secret languages? How much is recorded of this extended history?

exhibited June 2022 at A Light Footprint in the Cosmos, Vancouver

top: collage of electron microscopy images, Nina Czegledy
bottom: Talking Knot #3. 2020, Textile, painting. 60 x 20 x 15 cm. © Bettina Schülke