A look inside the Codex Seraphinianus

We here at Boing Boing have long been fans of the Codex Seraphinianus, a mysterious surrealist cypher manuscript that first appeared in print in the early 1980s. We first covered it in The Happy Mutant Handbook and have been marveling at it ever since.

The book is a faux cypher manuscript modeled after works like the Voynich manuscript. It was created by Italian artist, architect, and designer Luigi Serafini over thirty months, from 1976 to 1978.

As the above video explains, like the Voynich, the Codex was meant to look like an encyclopedia of flora and fauna, in this case, from some surreal alternate dimension where Earth-like plants, animals, and machinery blend into one another. The just over 5 minute video does a good job of explaining the organization of the book, its origins, and some of the more bizarre pages within it.

Personal pinch-me aside: Years ago, I almost had an opportunity to work on an art collaboration for an Italy art museum with Patch Adams, Ralph Steadman, and Luigi Serafini. Being such a huge fan of the Codex Seraphinianus, Serafini was the person I was most excited about meeting and getting to work with. Alas, the project never materialized.