Without meeting face to face

Participative Installation
Solo exhibition at Mz* Balthazar’s Lab
Vienna AT

In light of the current discussion on digital data, in which abstraction and immaterial value are major topics, artist Kristin Weissenberger proposes to investigate tangible formats of recording, designating and representing.

Psephoi (lat. Calculi) are hand-made clay or stone tokens used for counting, calculating, and representing numbers. Tokens have been found in the Near East, dating back to 8000 BCE, predating the first language based writing systems. Certain forms and shapes of the tokens assign numerical values and goods, and also aim to represent the quantities and qualities of an object.

These tokens are very attractive archaeological pieces for scientist Denise Schmandt-Besserat [1997, 1999, 2010]. Through an intensive examination of the objects, she tries to understand the development of human cognitive skills, namely the mastery of abstraction behind the achievement of numeracy and literacy in civilization.

Psephoi depicts figures and numbers based on an arithmetic system. However, it is believed that the representation method is not simply defining a linear value, but rather it aims towards the formulation of meaning and significance in a particular unknown system.

The participatory installation <without meeting face to face> by Kristin Weissenberger is inspired by those unknown systems and aims to reconstruct conceptually the origin and usage of Psephoi tokens. In a performative style of action, the artist invites participants to reflect upon given models, as clues and traces, that might work as inspiration to produce their own.

The event is ultimately an attempt to demystify and uncover the unknown meaning of such a system by re-enacting a handmade producing ritual, that she imagines as being closer to the ancient ones.

Through the conception of ceramic objects, a set-up that inspires positive social exchange, and do-it-together practices, Weissenberger designed the structure of a system, which is just the starting point of many possible scenarios and meanings. Above all, the installation invites participants to investigate, to create, to compromise, to research, to act, to make, and to embody meaning, in the site specificity of Mz* Baltazar’s Lab exhibition space.

Mz* Baltazar’s collective

[Patrícia J. Reis]

Photos by Sophie Thun

New Psephoi – developed and described by participants of the installation:


Psephoi system developed by the artist: