Henry Flynt

"Token" (2011)


 In the branch of linguistics called pragmatics, the distinction is made between type and token. The token is the concrete occurrence of a sign; the type is the design or geometry that makes occurrences copies of a given sign.

Thus, the letter 'o' is a type. As a token, it is a particular inscription of a circle. There is a hidden assumption here. While one is normally aware of a token via vision, the assumption is that vision detects a material object, typically ink-marks on paper. That is where the word "token" comes from.

Note that a circle is itself a "type" when it is considered a geometric abstraction.

I show that I want an inscription to be considered a token by surrounding it by a box. When a document is created in multiple, a boxed inscription is still the very inscription on that sheet even if there are many copies of the sheet. It is a rather tricky convention.

"Token" consists of a boxed stroke-numeral (cf. David Hilbert) shown on an Internet document.

Suddenly we can see what we would see on a page, an array of vertical line-segments surrounded by a box. But where is the token?