ABOUT THE BOOK
The first recorded zero appeared in Mesopotamia around 3 B.C. The Babylonians got their number system from the Sumerians, the first people in the world to develop a counting system. The Mayans invented it independently circa 4 A.D. It was later devised in India in the mid-fifth century, spread to Cambodia near the end of the seventh century, and into China and the Islamic countries at the end of the eighth. Arab merchants brought the zero they found in India to the West in the 12th century.
The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero
My artist’s book project ZeroOne was inspired
by my fascination with Mesopotamia and the Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations. I conceived the text for this book after researching the origin of the numeral zero—how it came about and spread from the Sumerians all the way through the ages to today’s digital world. And how now we save everything in “the Cloud.” In our minds, the term “the Cloud” defines like something in the sky, a non-physical space, as opposed to a network of servers responsible for storing data.
As a book artist, the history of the zero and its use resonated with me—how the zero progressed in conjunction with recording and writing: clay tablets, papyrus scrolls, handmade books, printing presses, and now digital tablets based on electrons cycling in cyberspace.
I had saved a motherboard from my old computer in the hopes of somehow using it in an artist book. This object fit perfectly into the ZeroOne book project in conjunction with haphazard binary codes. I also played with words and digits. On the cover of the book is the word siffer, which means zero in Arabic. The red dot is the dot of the letter “f” in siffer, a dot that also signifies numeral zero in Arabic. Inside the book is the word wahed, Arabic for the word “one.” The stylized red shape is also a play on the letter alif or “a” as well as the numeral 1. On the right side, I swapped the English letter “o” with the numeral “0”. The other red circle is the ancient Chinese zero.
This is an edition of one.
Size: 10.825”w x 9.825”h x 1” d.
Book is white bookcloth...as in white clouds— contemporary.
Box in brown & ocre bookcloth...as in earthy tones— ancient.
Text is printed digitally on translucent vellum.