Ode to Josef Hartwig

1.  Chess is a two-player strategy board game played on a chessboard, a checkered game-board with 64 squares arranged in an 8×8 grid. The game is played by millions of people worldwide. Each player begins with 16 pieces: one king, one queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, and eight pawns. Each of the six piece types moves differently, with the most powerful being the queen and the least powerful the pawn. The objective is to checkmate the opponent’s king by placing it under an inescapable threat of capture.

2.  Josef Hartwig (1880–1955) designed a series of chess pieces for Bauhaus from 1923-24 that embodied some of the core tenets of the school: “symmetry, angularity, abstraction, sharpness”.

H/8 is an abstraction of a familiar board game1 that has been played for over 500 years. The book acts as a puzzle or code of sorts. As the audience engages with the book—page by page—it introduces more information based on the visual system established throughout the work. As the audience reads through the book more clues provide information into the system at play. The cryptic narrative and use of system throughout the book add depth and interest into an otherwise very familiar game.
Additionally, the abstracted formal qualities present themselves in a manner that singularly represent data in a more aesthetic quality. The forms represented in this experiment are derived from Josef Hartwig’s2 Bauhaus chess set made in 1921 and produced in 1923-1924.