Tablets of Chanteroels
The Tablets of Chanteroels – “Leurres de vérité…”
LNA / Culture (June 14th 2006)
In September 2001, at “Chanteroels” in the Vosges of Alsace, following the city council’s decision to build a housing estate, a mechanical shovel uncovered a series of mysterious tablets. Specialists from all over the world, linguists, archeographs and philologists, travelled to study the find. The media got gradually carried away and the craziest theories were developed on this enigma. Surrounding villages were made famous and became wealthy thanks to publications of all types and in every language. An artistic and philosophical movement was even born of this craze: it was called transversalism. Up to today, nobody has really been able to decipher the text whose authors are unknown. However, following a press conference held at the Sorbonne by Professor Fostraul, since Monday, it has been a well-known fact that a 26 year-old tagger, also known as “Flashymike”, a gifted computer science student, has finally been able to decipher the writings almost completely.
You are living in the Hauts-de-Seine. How did you end up being interested in the tablets of Chanteroels and, especially, how were you able to establish their transciption?
It’s a combination of circumstances. First of all, I have to say that I was preparing a Ph. D. on iconic writing in computer sciences under the guidance of Professor Mutt. That work had given me the idea of tackling the mysterious concept of tifinagh writing, a very ancient and elaborate writing, whose origin we hardly know . Engraved on the rocks on the edge of the Saharian trails, these signs served as textos for the nomads of that time, a bit like our chats on the Internet today. Each one as they were passing by, would leave a message, a useful indication, a declaration of love or of war, a warning, etc.
What’s the link with the tablets of Chanteroels?
Besides the fact that this research led me to become closer to R. Mutt and to see him very regularly, there isn’t much link, really. Very soon, Mutt realized that I always had paint on my fingertips. As he was surprised every time, I ended up confessing my nocturnal activities. He was enthused in an unexpected way. He showed me slides of tags that he had created at the beginning of the 80s in many countries! He knew everything about the Tag’s history, about the different cliques. He spoke of a cultural scratch and paid much attention to the evolution of the phenomenon. He was on his guard, particularly regarding emerging aesthetics of certain countries: notably Germany and Italy. We very quickly began to collaborate closely. As I usually spend my vacation at my grand parents’, who live in Alsace in Andlau, that is to say between the site of the Chanteroels and the “pagan wall”, I joined him in his work and we finally finished our research. Game over.
What does the text express?
The text expresses, in a poetic fashion, that the language is a tool of random perception. As a seducing lie, it works like a game of lures and could be used in its ultimate development to convey truths which everybody must find in him/herself…
And what about the deciphering method?
It has taken us much time to understand that we had to follow our intuition. This should have been obvious, because in fact the first idea is always the best one. But one should be able to accept it right off the bat.
Without going into details, can you talk to us about it?
Of course, my idea was linked to my practice of tagging and to the use of very specific software.
The tag is an extremely sophisticated ideogram, in the sense that at the beginning it is an image made of letters from an alphabet. Basically, they are phonograms, in other words signs which represent sounds. But in the case of tagging, the phonograms are recombined by their contraction into ideographic signs. Contrary to a tag, an ideogram is an image built out of the representation of an object or a stereotype of everyday life. My original idea was thus to transform the constants of the signs inscribed on the tablets into numerically quantifiable frequencies. Then in the spirit of Post-structuralism, I sought to “deconstruct” the text in order to recompose it into visual archetypes, that is to say into ideograms.
This seems complex…
Not that much. Firstly because this approach, a cross between archaism and modernity, is already in keeping with the global perception of the emerging language, notably as it appears in contemporary art. What I mean is that we sometimes call it the “implicit message”. Secondly, because the deciphering software used by all the secret services in the world to detect and decode the hidden communications more or less work this way. Eventually and mostly because I have lived through the experience as if it were a game! A game of lures? Who knows…