March 03, 2020
Every 4 character verse made into a poster, and produce a book of posters – to reflect its pangram nature.

#athousandletters


Mar 02, 2020
Conversation with Esme
#athousandletters
Had a scintillating conversation with Esme, a scholar in Chinese turned out to be very helpful. It was a wise decision to expand the dialogue beyond business, and we talked about language and literature. ‘You should translate the experience of reading the text,’ she said, while talking about interpreting Chinese poetry.

My job as a Buchkunstlerin mainly consists translating information to sensual experiences. Certainly, things like layout, typeface and stock choice are not as visible as a language, yet the silent art form is equally significant. 

I was pondering over the decision whether to translate the Classic into English, without diluting its characteristic pangram nature. Esme suggested the Lindisfarne Gospel as a reference – the ultimate, glorious presentation of information, sacred in this case.

The Classic is not a sacred text, yet it did attract some public attention in reason years. I proceded to tell Esme about the few attempts of cultural revival – namely some soul-searching practice in today’s secular China – in the past decade. The advocates of these practices argued that memorising classics was a superior form of education. As results, young people were lured out of schools, dedicating more than 12 years to reciting the entire texts from 20+ Chinese classics. They can recall them with mathematical percision, but can barely understand them. And unfortunately, the Thousand Character Classic is on nearly all of these syllabuses. 

The Eureka moment came (unbelievably early in a Buchkunst project) as Esme drew my attention to the general exploition of sacred texts (or other significant symbols of culture, of whatever an individual can identify with) in today’s world – focusing on the superficial shape and form. This posts the question of how to conserve these symbols. Surely, what I am up to is appallingly blasphemic to some people.
The Lindisfarne Gospel
c. 700
The British Library



Mar 01, 2020
The Launch
#athousandletters
The launch was long due, partly due to the inconvenient timing (my illness in December 2019, following by the Coronavirus ordeal), but the major factor was the difficulty to choose as text.

As a writer (more accurately – a self-indulgent poem and fiction scribbler) besides a visual communication designer, I have always dreamed about making my own book from scratch. However my perfectionism in both fields held back each other: when thinking about design, constant discoveries of possible improvements made it nearly impossible to start designing. Therefore I settled on The Classic, a text that is ancient, permanent and unchallengeable.


Classique mille carac
Wikimedia Commons


Feb 29, 2020
The Brief
#athousandletters
With more than 50 thousands known characters, the Chinese language is one of the most challenging to produce a typeface for. There is no structured alphabet, and not to mention a pangram that could summon all letters that makes a language’s alphabet.

However in Liang Dynasty, one and half a Millennium from now, a text was composed with exactly one thousand non-repeating Chinese characters – the Thousand Character Classic (The Classics). It narrates an early Imperial Chinese world view, covering cosmology, ethics & morality, history, geography, social order and grammatical rules.

My task is to create a publication to accommodate this glorious text. And in this journal, all entries related to this project will be tagged with #athousandletters.

All text and images © Linran Jiang 2020, unless specified.