Database of Creativity

KHNUM is an online relational semantic database, wherein keywords, colours and combinations, shapes, textures, materials, body language, sounds, music, word-sounds, symbols and their relations, can be searched according to context-related significance and emotional and psychological effect, taking into account cultural aspects.


Illustrated with examples from international work of art and design, with notes and quotes from international scientific research, it forms a creative but logical classification.

KHNUM is the result of dozens of years of study and scientific research that summarizes the work of anthropologists, philosophers, graphic designers, colour psychologists, artists, publicity experts, sociologists in one concept, classified according to the unique data structure of Genetic Semantics.
KHNUM-DATABASE-02KHNUM puts a decisive step towards a dictionary that helps to understand the human ability of comprehension, imagination and intuition.

KHNUM links imagery with emotion, psychology, mythology, archeology, sociology and philosophy. That is why it is a promising application for archiving databases of visual communication and art, for the creation and checking of design, and for developing academic research and approaches to the archive and work of artists and designers in an entirely new way.




Whether intentional or not, all products of human expression convey a statement through their shape, colour, texture, sound, via parts of language structures that deal with meaning, called semantics.
Among linguists and cognitive psychologists such as a.o. Pinker, Leech, Chomsky, Di Scullio, Williams, there has been a growing conviction that behind the different forms of appearance in languages there is a universal structure. KHNUM-DATASTRUCTURE-11

Signs not only refer to the outside, but also have an inner meaning. ‘Chair’, for example, does not only presume a reference to this article of furniture. It is not only a reference to a material object, but also to an idea. Before we can speak we already know what is sitting. ‘Chair’ therefore only becomes understandable from this knowledge about sitting and presumes an ability of understanding.

A story of evolution

Human communication is a product of evolution. The result of a history of expression that goes back to the very first attempts of our Paleolithic ancestors to communicate with images, dance and music. Not only characters have been developed to be able to count, also abstract concepts were given a symbolic form.

These primary images of thought from the beginning of our language development can be found in all human forms of expression throughout the entire history of art up to the present day and assume a universal basis.

An in built dictionary

Perceptions are encoded and decoded unconsciously, they are classed according to structures proper to the nervous system and the brain. We experience this when we compare systems of symbols; for example, we can call a colour, sound or form “sharp”.


In semantics one speaks of an in built dictionary each one of us carries as part of our mental equipment. It is described as organized like a thesaurus, so that when one key-concept is found, other similar in meaning are made readily available. Knowledge is not just a list of facts but is organized into a complex network. Expressive language must be structured so that the listener/observer can place each part into his in built framework.

Genetic Semantics

Genetic Semantics represents the mental dictionary as a filled up spreadsheet, an active matrix of which not only the cells are numbered but also provided with formulae that are formed by genetic code symbols. Genetic Semantics considers the semantic markers introduced by J. Katz as ‘letters’ of DNA and combines them in groups of 2 x 3 to the 64 ‘words’ of hereditary script.


These semantic words refer to the key-images of the mental graphics system. The thinking, i.e. the processing of these system’s concepts, is a creative matter, namely the imagination.

In KHNUM the data structure of genetic semantics is used to classify and orient key-concepts in this logical framework.


Ferre Alpaerts
Inez Michiels

Demo Launch

> At Science Day 26/11/2017, BUDA Kortrijk