In the summer of 2019, I found myself obsessively encoding secret messages in illustrative ciphers. I knew I was interested in data visualization and information design, so I indulged this briefly anti-Tufteian hobby as a way of practicing different ways of representing information: instead of making data as clear and discoverable as possible, I hid it in things.
Dozens of cipher ideas and sketches lived in notebooks and on post-its until I forced myself to make some finished, solvable pieces. I made an Instagram account to house them:
See Instagram for the full collection (so far), but here are some examples:
I was invited to participate in a friend’s Halloween-centered house show. I finalized three on-theme ciphers and displayed them there (with treats for any solvers).
I also gave a brief presentation about my cipher obsession and how I ended up here. I credit three factors:
If letters can be represented as numbers, and numbers can be represented in all sorts of highly illustrative and abstract-looking ways, this opens up a world of possibilities for hiding data in art!