The Codex Seraphinianus is one of life’s stranger things, a rare tome created in 1981 by Italian artist, Luigi Serafini. His work took over thirty months to complete, and depicts an odd world within its pages. His goal was to create a new Encyclopedia of a strange fantastic land similar to how a child would see a book for the first time. The imagery would transport you to that state of wonder had as a child. The Codex approaches this new dimension in an index style made up of 11 chapters, illustrated in ink and color pencil and hand written in a code made up of a Cipher Alphabet. His writing system is believed by some to be a false writing system, modeled on ordinary Western-style, being right to left with a good mix of upper and lower case letters and common punctuation but with the looping styles of the words to be somewhat reminiscent of the Sinhala Alphabet as well. The book splits into two main parts, the first of which describes the natural world; flora, fauna and physics. As well as the second part; mainly exploring culture, aspects of human life (or closely related): clothing, history, cuisine, architecture and more.
It is all too easy to get lost within the pages while exploring these new forms of almost familiar terrestrial life. Whether it be a couple shapeshifting into a Crocodile during intercourse or a strange Utopia built from impossible architecture, where the rainbows rain down colorful inhabitances upon the land. The bizarre machines or what appears to be a skin trading market, this book truly can keep your attention for days. The Codex has influenced many fellow artists throughout the years, such as French Choreographer, Philippe Découflé. The Codex inspired Philippe to create many interruptive dances such as Tricodex in 2005 and many more. Although it is said that the Codex holds no hidden coded messages within, says Luigi in a talk held at Oxford University, Society of Bibliophiles May 11, 2009. This could also be a clever use of disinformation used to lead one away from the path. This statement has whoever been discredited, where in future talks about the forthcoming edition Serafini claims, while writing the manuscript he had found and adopted a stray white cat. He states that the white cat that joined him in Rome telepathically communicated what to draw and write as Serafini did the labor. When asked about what the importance of the Codex was today, Serafini told Wired Magazine Italy. “Its popularity rose steadily for many years and fell as it went out of print, now the new edition revived it. It’s a book that speaks about crisis and about communication and it’s quite apocalyptical, suited for the present times. Anything can happen inside the Codex, just like in the Internet.”
The Codex will forever prove much more mysterious as years push on and Luigi Serafini keeps adding to it in each new edition, further intensifying the strangeness of this Rorschach like text. We all see the work differently and will always do so, as the book will take you on a journey through illustration as the written bulk of it will never be known. You can find pdf and image copies from the Codex all over the internet if you would like to check it out and for those with some money to burn I believe the first edition is only a few thousand dollars.