30 June 2014


woodblock print (mokuhanga)
6" x 6" (152.4 x 152.4 mm)
3 layers of color plus blind emboss on Kochi Kozo paper
edition: 20

ZARF is a data collection 'control system' (system that monitors and manages) for electronic intelligence from satellites. The ZARF system seems to have begun around 1960 with the launch of the first reconnaissance satellites during the Cold War. A PDF document available online indicates that the ZARF code name was eliminated in 1999.

The word zarf is an Arabic word for a holder, usually made of metal, into which fits a small handle-less coffee cup, used mostly in Turkey. I wasn't sure how to fit this in with the Cold War reconnaissance satellite imagery of the NSA's ZARF until I discovered that there's a Russian cousin to the zarf called the podstakannik, which is a metal holder used to serve hot tea in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and other post-Soviet states. Podstakanniks seem to often be commemorative, depicting architecture, famous people, famous dates in history, etc. I modeled my zarf on a Russian podstakannik commemorating the launch of Sputnik, the first ever satellite sent into orbit by Russia in 1957. Russia's Sputnik triggered the Space Race between the U.S. and Russia, a larger part of the Cold War.


Andrew Stone said...

Great end to a great series. You've touched on a lot of serious topics and this little compendium has been handled brilliantly. They're interesting singly and in the group and your choices of images to illustrate the words has been both creative, personal and on topic.
You continue to produce very strong work. I'm happy to see you bring this to a close, although the topic has not been exhausted. I hope your prints help bring this to the public eye. I've enjoyed seeing each installment and hope you pursue this topic, if not so alphabetically, some more.

Annie B said...

Thank you, Andrew. I'm relieved to have these finished, although you're right, the topic is far from exhausted. I seem to need some kind of structure or 'conceit' (like the alphabet) in order to tackle these overwhelming topics. It lets me wade in without drowning. Thanks so much for following along with this series.