Codex Seraphinianus: Luigi Serafini, 1981

Robots and strange machines abound in the Codex Seraphinianus, a 360-page book (depending on edition) originally published in 1981. The volume is an illustrated encyclopedia of a fictional alien world, created by the Italian artist, architect and industrial designer Luigi Serafini. It is written in a strange, generally unintelligible alphabet. It is a striking work of imagination, setting forth weird and creative visions of places, beings and technology. The illustrations are often surreal parodies of things in the real world: bleeding fruit; a plant that grows into roughly the shape of a chair and is subsequently made into one; a lovemaking couple that metamorphoses into an alligator; etc. Others depict odd, apparently senseless machines, often with a delicate appearance, kept together by tiny filaments. There are also illustrations readily recognizable, as maps or human faces. On the other hand, especially in the “physics” chapter, many images look almost completely abstract. Practically all figures are brightly colored and rich in detail.