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The Mysterious Village of Chinese Character

The Delight of Chinese Character Festival

Words / Elva Pang
Translation / Iris Heung

在影像為先的年代,文字是否愈來愈被忽視?

事實上,文字也是擁有獨特個性的風景,細心觀看,文字圍繞我們的四周,就算足不出戶,文字仍然是無處不在的「影像」。當我們談論文字時,怎能不說世界上最古老的文字——漢字?古代文字如古埃及人的象形文字、蘇美爾人的楔形文字早已失傳,而漢字則經歷了數千年的演變,至今仍是世界上最普及的文字之一。習慣了天天看見、使用的我們有沒有認真思考過每一個漢字都有獨特的形態與意義?

In our image-driven media age, is writing gradually losing its significance?

In fact, writing can be on its own a unique spectacle. A closer look would remind you how our life is surrounded by writing, as it is fundamentally omnipresent images. When we talk about languages, it is impossible not to mention one of the most ancient writings — Chinese characters. Unlike ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform that are both extinct, Chinese characters have been evolving in the past thousands of years. Chinese continues to be one of the most used languages in the modern world. Have you taken a moment to consider how each Chinese character carries a unique structure and meaning?

以探索漢字為主題的「好玩漢字」展覽,今年已是第八屆,在愈趨成熟和多樣化的科技與藝術型態下呈現,為觀眾帶來極大的視覺衝擊和體驗。今年展覽以陶淵明的《桃花源記》為主軸,分為八大主題的秘境,當中包括知名遊樂場、天書黃金屋、花鏡錯字池和好漢市井等等,以科技和創意顛覆對傳統漢字的想像,同時藉著對漢字的探索,重拾它美好而歷久常新的價值。

當中最令人印象深刻的是被各式各樣的漢字燈箱包圍的好漢市井,策展團隊找來廣告、包裝、唱片、網頁、字體及插畫等領域的設計師,把耳熟能詳的外國品牌以漢字重新詮譯,如北臉(North Face)、阿莫下面(Under Armour)和超乾(Super Dry)等;大型燈箱亂中有序地排列著,字型和用色的美學也叫人目不睱給,讓觀眾來一場字體散步。此外,展場上亦附上不同店舖的發票,每一張都使用了不同的字體,藉此說明其獨特個性;發票的結尾更印有厭世小標語,都是讓人不禁會心微笑的小心思。經歷這趟文字之旅後,或許我們對日常所遇見的漢字將有另一番體會。

The Delight of Chinese Character Festival is celebrating its 8th anniversary this year. The festival will continue to apply various modern technology to explore the idea of Chinese characters. Themed around The Peach Blossom Spring by Tao Yuanming, this year’s exhibition is inviting visitors to its eight “mysterious villages”, including “A Playground for Names”, “House of Religious Books”, “Dream of Flowers, Pond of Typos”, and “Haohan Marketplace”. The team tries to challenge the conventional perception of Chinese characters through technology and creativity. When delving into the many faces of Chinese characters, the visitors are reminded of the long-lasting beauty of the language.

Among the eight “villages”, I found “Haohan Marketplace” the most impressive. The curator invited designers from fields such as advertising, binding, CDs, UI, font making, and illustrations to redefine well-known international brands with Chinese characters. The new designs showcased in lightboxes have given brands like The North Face, Under Armour, and Superdry a new representation. The lightboxes are scattered around the room in a casual but orderly manner like a promenade of Chinese characters; the typeface and colors create a beautiful image that is a feast for the eyes. In the exhibition hall, visitors can obtain receipts from shops that are printed with different fonts to demonstrate how exclusive the journey is; together with the anti-social statement printed on the receipt, it is a memorable and humor souvenir from the exhibition. A visit to this exhibition can perhaps give us a brand new understanding of the Chinese characters we encounter in our everyday life.

The Delight of Chinese Character Festival 2018
Period: 1/11/2018 – 2/12/201
Venue:B4 warehouse, Pier-2 Art District of Penglai, No.1 Road Yancheng District, Dayong City, Kaohsiung, Taiwan