Friday, March 19, 2010

Hello, all! I'm back! Not that I've gone anywhere-- I've just been...busy. But now I'm getting back to my creative work and hope to be able to share new things on a regular basis once again!

For Christmas, the philosopher got me a comprehensive tome all about the writing systems of the world. "Writing Systems of the World", I believe is the title. I had no idea there were so many! And so diverse! I immediately began concocting plans to use some of these in my work...the challenging question being, how? I don't know the languages most of them were devised to record, and many of the existing passages written in them are, well, not what I'd necessarily choose to feature in a calligraphy piece. A bit boring, frankly, and of limited interest to non-historians. Not art-inspiring, in a word.

So I began to work with the idea of using an abstraction of text, rather than a real text-- I don't know if you have the experience of trying read something in a dream, but when you try to focus on the letters, they're just a meaningless jumble. I have this dream often-- the most interesting, illuminating book, but I can't make out what it says! Unusual scripts would be excellent for this, I thought-- I can just use the form of text (nonsense letter jumbles, chosen for their visual appeal) in conjunction with layout and color to convey an idea, a mood, to evoke what the letters would say if they said anything at all. Dream-like and evocative.

I quickly found that this was at least as challenging as doing calligraphy based around a quote or poem. The letterforms and layout really have to stand on their own. What I mean is, sometimes when I do a piece, I find myself willing to evaluate the final product more kindly if I really like the quote. It's a weakness. Anyway, that can't happen here.
I've done a few pieces along these lines now, with mixed success. Here's the first of them. Actually, this one does say something, as the example text given in the book was from a folktale and I rather liked it. "Once there was a story, once upon a time", repeated 2 1/2 times. The script is Lontara, for Buginese, an Indonesian language. I'm very pleased with how this one turned out.

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