Art Using the Symbol Unicode Standard U+1F7BA Extremely Heavy Six Spoked Asterisk

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These multi-layered cnc cut artworks are an exploration of geometric abstraction utilizing symbols, in this piece, the underappreciated Asterisk.

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Symbols from cave paintings – From TED Talk by Genevieve Von Petzinger

The hashtag is getting all the fame. But before the hashtag became so celebrated with the advent of instagram, the asterisk has been used throughout the ages. The iconography of the Asterisk is deeply embedded in the human psyche. The symbol of the asterisk, ubiquitous today, used in computer language and mathematics has ancient roots going back to pre-history in cave paintings by ice age humans.

Paleoanthropologist Genevieve Von Petzinger studies the origins of graphic communications of early humans and as her list of symbols found in early human cave paintings shows, what we know today as the asterisk and the pound/number/hash symbol are from our beginnings. She says in her TED Talk Why are these 32 symbols found in ancient caves all over Europe?

Early writing systems didn’t come out of a vacuum. And that even 5,000 years ago, people were already building on something much older, with its origins stretching back tens of thousands of years, to geometric signs of Ice Age Europe and beyond, to that point deep in our collective history, when someone first came up with the idea of making a graphic mark, and forever changed the nature of how we communicate.

From there it has gone on throughout history to be used in many ways; literature, mathematics and today in the languages of computer code. And lets not forget it’s use in todays language to tone down expletives.

The digital age has encoded the asterisk symbol into the system known as the Unicode Standard. The Unicode Standard is a character coding system designed to support the worldwide interchange, processing, and display of the written texts of the diverse languages and technical disciplines of the modern world. The Unicode Standard designates all symbols, giving them coding data that can be uniformly used in technology internationally. As a starting point in my exploration of the asterisk as subject matter, I went to the Unicode Standard website and found multiple versions of asterisks with different sizes and thicknesses of lines. The symbol I used in these artworks is the Unicode Standard U+1F7BA, the designation given to the symbol named “Extremely Heavy Six Spoked Asterisk”. U+1F7BA is distinguished from other asterisks in the Unicode Standard by the thickness of its spokes versus more delicate asterisks in the code. Transforming this symbol from something of use in computer code, language, telecommunications and mathematics into the realm of geometric object is an expression of technology transformed to an aesthetic that speaks to our technological times.

uv cured inkjet on cnc cut acrylic mounted to composite aluminum panel
dimensions variable 54.5″h x 41.75″w, edition of 3
uv cured inkjet on cnc cut shaped acrylic – mounted on composite aluminum
dimensions variable (48″h x 43.25″w overall), edition of 3