James R. Murphy, a math teacher in La Guardia, New York, regarded mathematics as the most powerful and manipulable abstract language available to humans. To acquaint students who don’t “like” math with abstract and systematical thinking, he put a piece of string in their hands and taught them to make string figures.
How to spell the fight follows a thread that has been running through our fingers from centuries past till the present day, morphing from the tangible string figures that join our hands in childhood to the more elusive computational algorithms that engage our fingers today. Following this line of inquiry through various twists and turns, a conversation about collective agency emerges with the aim of rethinking current paradigms of cognition, education, and power.
Natascha Sadr Haghighian is an artist living in Berlin. Her research-based practice encompasses a variety of forms and formats, among them video, performance, installations, text, and sound. She tries to learn how to make string figures.
9.6 x 14.8 cm, 80 pages, Soft cover
Published by Kayfa ta
“Hold a loop of string in your right hand and then place it behind and around your left thumb and little finger. Repeat the above step with the right hand. This is the starting position. Now bring your right middle finger to scoop up the string from your left palm and pull it back. With your left middle finger, scoop the string from your right palm and pull it back. This is called Opening A, the most common base figure.”
_Natascha Sadr Haghighian