Ruudukko

The checkerboard grid is ubiquitous to board games, but where did it come from? The checkerboard or tartan is the result of weaving different color threads. Warp and weft meet at right angles even in the early examples of weaving from Neolithic times. All great civilizations have developed weaving, a way of creating space as one adds weft or of measuring time in terms of woven surface or space; in other words a grid. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines a grid as a pattern of squares labeled with numbers and letters used to find places on a map. Ptolemy’s world map with an imposed grid was used for 1400 years. How did he take that step? Was there a metaphor that linked weaving with land? The path of the sun through the heavens describes a line. Were the cardinal directions the generators of the grid on his world map? We still use an abstract system of lines to give a position on earth and to organize units of time. Agriculture depends on a calendar in units of time and a set of rules to measure and delineate space. War is also about territory and timing. How much do our games reflect our culture? Scholars believe games are a part of the human condition from the beginning of time. They were always a part of human interaction, a simulacrum of real life. Chess is a good example of an early board game. It sets one team against another with a definite hierarchy, objective and corresponding set of rules. It dates from about 2000 years ago in Persia. In the seventeenth century Descartes takes a huge leap in scientific history by linking a three dimensional grid, which is basically Euclidean geometry, with algebra. Now the set of rules of movement become equations; shapes, curves, lines, limits and tangents can all be described and manipulated or calculated in the form of equations. These two games are a series of grids organized as sequence of pages. One records a path through a grid that can be dismantled and reconfigured to find alternate paths to then return to the original configuration. The second offers coincidences in the superposition of the grids as pages, with alternate coincidences, which occur when the book is dismantled and reconfigured. The fabric allows for repeated manipulation of the pages and refers back to the grid as a product of the technology of weaving.

 

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