The Trithemian Web
The 21st Century Puzzle Challenge
The Trithemian Web
Today’s date is July 16, 2021. My name is Jason Savage.
1972 – My fascination with perception and perspective begins. Today I design traditional polyalphabetic substitution ciphers in a distinctive, contemporary, artistic format featuring a linear alphabet – my trademark design – and an unexpected physical interaction with my work.
Wikipedia defines art as “a diverse range of (and products of) human activities involving creative imagination to express technical proficiency, beauty, emotional power, or conceptual ideas.” I call my particular style, form, conceptual idea and content a Trithemian Web™.
This photo was taken in 1990. I was less than half way through my journey which is now approaching fifty years. Oh my! Time is relentless.
What is a Trithemian Web?
The ‘History‘ page documents a long and persistent journey to reach my original goal, the presentation of a linear alphabet in a distinctive and intriguing format apart from my original kinetic sculptures.
What is a Trithemian Web™? And what makes these configurations distinctive?
A Trithemian Web™ is a cryptogram, a traditional substitution cipher, the code being presented in the form of linear graphics that resemble a spider’s web or the Tholian Web seen in the original Star Trek series aired on November 15, 1968-Season 3; Episode 9. I was, and still am, a big Star Trek fan.
Here’s how I coined Trithemian Web™ as the label for my individual compositions.
First, I wanted a label that came close to the syllables in Tholian. Secondly, the melody of that word appealed to me. Thirdly, I knew I could not use Tholian because it belongs to the creator of the Star Trek series.
Enter Johannes Trithemius, inventor of a progressive key polyalphabetic cipher called the Trithemius cipher. I use his tabula recta – developed in 1508 – in the creation of my cryptograms. I used the first eight letters of his name and the last two letters in Tholian to form Trithemian. It has the melody of Star Trek’s Tholian and a dedication to the inventor of the tabula recta. I added the word ‘Web’ because my graphic lettering, as previously mentioned, reminds me of a spider’s web.
A Trithemian Web™ is an interactive, contemporary, artistic presentation of a cryptogram that when deciphered reveals the ‘Title’ I bestowed on that particular piece. And not only that, it reveals my thoughts on a particular subject.
Please read the ‘History‘ to fully understand why I didn’t produce a cryptogram using linear graphics for public display thirty five years ago. Over the years, a single issue that no one could solve (including me) stalled the project. Simple is an understatement. I finally figured it out.
In conclusion, this website provides all the information you need to decipher a Trithemian Web™.
My goal is to bring the traditional text based substitution cipher into the realm of contemporary art with a design so distinctive they are unmistakably mine.