I'm not sure how many folks visiting here are familiar with this book and artist, but I thought I'd do a post on it.
When I was a freshman in art school (1984), I came home in the summer to have my mother, who worked as an art librarian at Stanford, arrive one day with this book for me. Although I was instantly smitten and intrigued by it, I had no idea how rare and valuable it would one day be.
Foolishly, I lent it to a friend and never saw it again. The artist is an Italian guy, Luigi Serafini.
Here are some images I found online about it. Amazingly, The Believer has recently done an article on it.
This book is entirely written in a language created by Serafini. It appears to be an encyclopedia for a parallel universe, from the amoebic structures all the way up through the cultural issues, fashions, architecture and political structure - all illustrated with dead-pan clinical analysis.
The thing is, he leaves no clues in the entire book for how to properly decode anything. It is thus an entire work of imagination, not only of the creator but of the viewer. It is exactly as the title suggests: a codex.
One of the masterful things Serafini does is suggest a code for which one can actually make an attempt to translate. Multiple hints, an actual language system, and a sense that the visuals have some sort of meaning - even when in fact they essentially mean only what the reader projects upon the pages. In the end, it's not unlike reality -and the universe itself - magical, fantastic, and completely confounding.
It is, for me, a masterwork of modern book art. I'd love to know if any of you out there have seen this book. It's one of my biggest regrets that I ever lent this out!