Mission Statement


"Probably too bad, for why shouldn't dord mean 'density'?"

"Dord" is a meaningless spelling that was mistakenly included into the dictionary and viewed as a "vocabulary." The mistake was a transcribing oversight of an editor. After being only included in Merriam-Webster Dictionary for sixteen years, it was discovered by editor Philip Babcock Gove, and was removed in 1947. Before the removal, the definition of the vocabulary reads: "dord (dôrd), n. Physics & Chem. Abbreviation for density." In short, the word embodied a somewhat ghostly presence lurking in the dictionary. In this era, there have been continuous inventions of new vocabularies, while increasingly powerful self-search function has been digging up new keywords. What if there existed a keyword dictionary to point out the various categories of today's world?—one that reflects on how globalization and the system of knowledge construction today still need to deal with the lacks created by the disturbances of the colonial ghost from the last century during the process of self-construction; and one that provides imaginations of the future for the compilation of dictionaries and the users. In this case, the form of this dictionary would probably be closer to an event, a performance, or an open source code, which could be constantly triggered, intercepted, and become new events, performances, and components of creations.

The Keyword Dictionary of Contemporary Art was launched in 2021. It is inspired by border closures, transportation difficulties, economic stress-aggravated conflicts, as well as the extensive use of hashtags such as "#Stayindex," "#Stayhealth," and "#Quarantine" on a global scale due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this period, physical exchange and interaction between art professionals became incredibly challenged. At the same time, however, it also granted more time for re-examining and re-teasing out the results of past works, allowing us to contemplate on potential directions for the future. This project starts with the Asian regions, which share cultural knowledge and historical experience, and uses Taiwan as a node to connect with art professionals in the Southeastern and South Asian regions, who then start from their common experience to either respond to or continue inquiring into issues they are faced with. In the first phase of the project, three hosts have been invited to decide on the themes, which are respectively responded by Indonesian, Amis, South Asian, and Filipino artists, art educators, and art collaborators with videos, sounds, writings, and publications. During this process, the role of the hosts is more like an index editor, who try to pinpoint the proposed keywords by designing the way of reading. Consequently, the design of the dictionary's online display follows the compilation method of modern dictionaries to be arranged in the alphabetical order, and preserves as much as possible the vocabularies inspired by native languages and how they have emerged during the process.

The formation of this dictionary is not to highlight the vocabularies and the importance of their meanings. Instead, the project aims to employ the sets of vocabularies, affixes, etymological roots, signs, or sounds, as a means to construct a platform for discussing about the future in the post-pandemic era when the borders are now re-opened. Continuing Philip's sigh about "dord" – the ghost word that messed up the order of the entire dictionary – the project also unveils a discussion space that is unknown and full of possibilities.


「這太糟糕了,為什麼dord 無法代表密度?」

「Dord」是一個誤被收錄到字典裡並且被視為「單字」的無意義拼字,起源於一名編輯的抄錄疏失,這個字彙只出現在偉柏字典裡16年,就被編輯 菲利浦(Philip Babcock Gove)發現並且在1947年刪除,在這之前這個單字的定義是:「名詞,物理與化學。密度的縮寫。(dord (dôrd), n. Physics & Chem. Abbreviation for density. )」如同躲藏在字典裡的幽靈字一般,在這個不斷發展出新的字彙並且透過日漸強大的自我搜索功能翻掘出新的關鍵字的時代,如果有一本關鍵字字典得以指出今日世界的範疇,同時透過自我建構的過程中省思在全球化以及知識建構體系仍必須面對上個世紀以來殖民幽靈的困擾所造成的缺漏,並且為字典的編纂及閱讀者提出對於未來的想像,可能這本字典的形式會更趨近於一個事件、一場表演或是一條開放的原始碼,並且可以被不斷地被觸發、被截取並且成為新的事件、表演以及創造物的元件。



The Team of Keyword Dictionary of Contemporary Art
Translator | 黃亮融Huang Liang-jung