22 November 2013
In Praise of Working Small
SECRET CODEWORDS OF THE NSA: ACCORDIAN
woodblock print (mokuhanga)
6" x 6" (152.4 x 152.4 mm) on Kochi Kozo paper
This print is small. The paper is 6 x 6 inches, the image area about 4 x 4. I haven't worked this small since... maybe since the very first print I made in 2005. Holy cow, everything is so easy at this size! Registration is a breeze, carving is fast, and printing can be done sitting instead of standing. (With big prints, I usually stand so I can leverage my meager weight over the baren more easily). You can also use thinner paper when working small, as it's easier to handle damp thin paper at small sizes. This kozo washi is from Hiromi Paper in California and they measure the thickness at 50 g/m. (For comparison, the thinnest paper I've used to date is Nishinouchi at 60 g/m.) I made this print in three days, not counting design time, and that kind of speed suits my recent mood very well. So there will be more little prints like this one.
I got going on this topic a couple of Sundays ago when I read an article in the NY Times that mentioned a number of code words that the NSA uses to identify various operations and information-gathering techniques. “Dishfire” was a codeword in the article that immediately captured my attention, a word just begging to be illustrated. So I did some internet sleuthing and discovered a treasure trove of over 100 NSA code words to work from. Initially I imagined doing a ‘One Hundred Views of the NSA’ kind of series, but I didn't feel like committing myself to that many prints, so I've decided to do 26 of them, one for each letter of the alphabet, and call it a ‘primer.’
A is for ‘accordian.’ I know that the musical instrument is spelled ‘accordion,’ not ‘accordian,’ but multiple lists I found spell the NSA code word with an ‘a.’ My references say that accordian is “a Type 1 Cryptographic algorithm used in a number of crypto products.” Whatever. I don't know what that means, really, and I don't care enough to go find out. But the word ‘crypto’ sent me hunting for hieroglyphics, which I copied, printed out on my laser printer, folded into an accordion, and photographed for reference.
I embossed the word rather than inking it. It's a secret, after all.
Next up: B is for blackpearl.