The Trithemian Web
The Evolution of the Cryptogram as Applied, Contemporary Art
The Trithemian Web
Today’s date is July 16, 2021. My name is Jason Savage.
1972 – My fascination with perception and perspective began. Today (2022) I design one of a kind, polyalphabetic substitution ciphers (cryptograms) in a distinctive, contemporary, artistic format featuring a linear graphic character set – one that I began developing fifty years ago – that compels a specific visual 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™.
The photo above was taken in 1990. I was less than half way through my journey which has now been fifty years. Oh my! Time is relentless.
What is a Trithemian Web?
My Story documents a long and persistent journey to reach my original goal, the presentation of a linear graphic character set 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 adopted 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 blended elements, if present, the ‘Title’ I bestowed on that particular piece and my thoughts on a particular subject.
Please read My Story 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™. Each piece is designed to be solved. All you need is a little patience.
Trithemian cryptograms feature interactive components that foster a unique bond between the piece and its owner.
My goal is to bring the traditional text based substitution cipher into the realm of applied, contemporary art with a design so distinctive they are unmistakably mine.