Micrography, also called microcalligraphy, is a Jewish art form developed in the 9th century, with parallels in Christianity and Islam http://expositions.bnf.fr/parole/grand/134.htm, utilizing minute Hebrew letters to form representational, geometric and abstract designs. Colored micrography is especially distinctive because these rare artworks are customarily rendered in black and white.
In micrography, the word literally becomes the vision (or image), as thousands upon thousands of Hebrew characters blend and weave together to tell a story. Similar to the well-known visual art form of photomosaic or phototile images (pioneered by Leon Harmon of Bell Labs in 1973), micrography reveals one thing at close range (a set of words) and another thing (a visual image related to the set of words) at a distance. Whether small words forming a larger picture or small pictures forming a larger picture, this kind of art invites the viewer to make an association between the larger image and the subset of images or words that constitute it, despite the fact that the connection could be utterly irrational and still convey two sets of lovely images. Richly symbolic and steeped in the tradition of the Jewish heritage, this art form is both intellectually and visually stimulating.
There is a relationship between this form of art, employing both digital and analogic symbols, and the restrictions on images found in the second commandment. Micrography provides a unique solution to the visual artist who wishes to remain devout in observation of Jewish law, which allows God to exist in the word and word only. As similar restrictions exist in certain Muslim societies, this solution has been adapted to the Arabic alphabet as well.
- Leila Avrin, Interlaces and Grotesques: the Art of Hebrew Micrography, Jewish Heritage Online Magazine
- Motillism digitally creates images using classic texts - Shakespeare; Burns; Sports Statistics etc.
- A 13th Century Pentateuch British Library, BL Add. MS 21160
- A German Pentetateuch, c. 1300 British Library, BL Add. MS 15282
- Jewish Theological Seminary exhibit on Micrography
- Judaic Treasures of the Library of Congress, from the Jewish Virtual Library
- Los Angeles Pop Art Uses Micrography to create Pop Culture posters
- Meclina, Contemporary Micrography Exploration and Micrography
micrography in Hebrew: מיקרוגרפיה