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By on November 19, 2009, with 67 Comments

Few days ago, Laura Bee sent me this photo by a Chinese artist called Xu Bing. Attached photo was taken on one of Xu’s classes titled: Square Calligraphy Classroom. The intention of this installation was to simulate a classroom-like setting, in a gallery or museum space. Desks are arranged with small containers of ink, brushes and a copybook with instructions on the basic principles of  New English Calligraphy, a writing system invented and designed by the artist.

As people attempt to recognize and write these words, some of the thinking patterns that have been ingrained in them since they learned to read are challenged. It is the artists’ belief that people must have their routine thinking attacked in this way. While undergoing this process of estrangement and re-familiarization with one’s written language, the audience is reminded that the sensation of distance between other systems of language and one’s own is largely self-induced. That being said, if you look closely you’ll find the below characters not so hard to read

xu1A video titled ”Elementary Square-Word Calligraphy Instruction,” was played on a monitor during the exhibition, capturing the audience’s attention and inviting them to participate in the class. Once they were seated at the desks, the audience was instructed to take up their brushes and the lesson in New English Calligraphy begins.

xu2

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mathias-Courbois/1347407051 Mathias Courbois

    Where is the ilussion?

    • random person

      the simbles say “little bo peep little bo peep has lost her sheep”

      the right hand bottom corner, the very bottom has the letters “a,n,c” the one above it says “and”

    • random person

      the “anc” makes “can”

  • rachel

    little bo peep has lost her sheep……
    Wow..

  • zumbi

    that’s really cool, altough i didn’t get some of the words on the left poster.

  • Facebook User

    Left side??? Fly find your failinit yeld. No clue. But, cool.

  • Andrew

    Neat!

  • Darm58

    The second page says little bo peep little bo beep has lost her sheep…the first one seems a bit harder.

  • loek

    the characters are words.

    not that hard to spot.

  • Living Sound

    Great! Mind-opening, it took me longer to read the left ones.

  • Jouni Saikkonen

    It´s look like chinese writing, but it is still english…nice one…

  • J. Wang

    if you look at some of it,
    you can see english
    i.e. top right of #2 says HER, the next one down says SHEEP

  • Easy Spotter

    Chinese is read going downwards instead of left to right, it’s read from top to bottom…..the words are, fly find four failing:.:.: yielding applying introduction together:.:.:impossible forgotten practice experience…..the next page reads, little bo peep, little bo peep, has lost her sheep, and can….that’s where it ends. :)

  • Monxy

    some of these are hard to read, but nice work :D

  • rmarian24

    cool! :) Good ole Mother Goose. The 2nd one’s a lost simpler to read than the first page though….

  • Jim OFlaherty

    Very nice. I like!

    A clue. The very first instance in the upper left corner indicates the ability to be airborne.

  • Dave

    Wow, that is neat. When I first saw it, I just assumed it was chinese lettering, then I looked closer.

  • Monxy

    Mathias Courbois, these aren’t real Chinese letters, those are European letters :D

  • Matthias Courboiz

    The letters look to be Chinese, but each character is a word in English letters. For example, on the left page, the top left one is “fly” and the bottom right one is “experience”.

  • Sam

    Little bo peep has lost her sheep and . . .

  • ET

    That was really cool, it took me so long to decipher the left one though!

  • M

    I am gonna say the illusion is the fact that I don’t know Chinese but I see a segment of Little Bo Peep childrens story on the right hand side :D

  • Kerry Hjertaas

    The “Illusion” is that all of the “Chinese Characters” are actually words written in english, but made to look like a single chinese character. The one on the top left is the word “fly” for instance. You can probably figure out the rest from there.

  • zumbi

    now I can spot all of them… really great

  • Care Bear

    How in the world does anyone lose a flock of sheep? Sounds like just plain carelessness to me.

  • http://snowman25.funpic.de Snowman25

    Little bo peep, little bo peep has lost her sheep and can

  • Detective Kitty

    i can’t get the left side…

  • kaila

    that was cute

  • Isaac

    The Second Page reads:(reading from top to below)
    ” Little bo peep Little bo peep lost her sheep
    and can”

  • steve

    Got to say Very GOOOD Sheep well (opps sleep well)

  • Gordon

    Thanks Easy Spotter. Now mind is bent back into shape.

  • Alexandre

    I’m still amazed with the words “practice”, “introduction” and “forgotten”.
    One left to ‘translate’… (Left side. 2,4)

  • Alexandre

    (Ops! I meant, left side 4,2)
    E eu acho que significa junto…

  • Demona Stephens

    well every one gets the right side pretty ez but as for the left its a lil harder i got most the words firgured out for the most part, reading from top to bottem here are the words but unfotunatly it don’t seem to be a sentace just random words idk it don’t make sence to me maybe some one eles can make sence out of it.
    fly
    find
    four
    falling <-G's look very strange…..
    i4elding <-couldn't get this word
    appi4ing <- couldn't get this word
    introduction
    together
    impossible
    forgotten
    practice
    expirence

  • Demona Stephens

    left side don’t make sence…think its just random words(readin from top to bottem)
    fly
    find
    four
    falling <- notice G's look weird
    i4elding <-some one figure out what a 4 is?
    appi4ing <- again a 4???
    introduction
    together
    impossible
    forgotten
    practice
    expirence

  • wandering_goat

    I think the first one is just a collection of words without structure:

    fly
    find
    four
    failing
    yielding
    appiring
    introduction
    together
    impossible
    forgotten
    practice
    experience

    The second one’s a bit more sensible, though “Little Bo Peep” is repeated for some reason.

  • wandering_goat

    Oops, meant to put “applying” for the 6th word.

  • Leon

    did she find them? i need to know how to rest of the story goes!!!!!

  • Sarah Smith

    I have rarely seen such a good illusion!

  • vurdlak

    If you dont know all the worlds, scroll to the middle of the comments, and read the comment of “Easy spotter”, he has all words in a row :]

  • zaca006

    the left side:
    fly find four falliing yielding applying introduction together impossible forgotten practice experience

  • Zoe

    left page, from left going down and so on:
    fly
    find
    four
    failing
    yielding
    applying
    introduction
    together
    impossible
    forgotten
    practice
    experience

  • Saoirse

    On the left, it’s just words:
    fly, find, four, falling, yielding, applying, introduction, together, impossible, forgotten, practice, experience

    Very Cool! ^_^

  • Janey

    (Spoiler)
    L side:
    Fly, Find, Four, Falling, Yielding, Applying, Introduction, Together, Impossible, Forgotten, Practice, Experience.

    R side:
    Little, Bo, Peep, Little, Bo, Peep, Has, Lost, Her, Sheep, And, Can.

  • Roland

    On the left:

    Fly Find Four Falling
    Yielding Applying Introduction Together
    Impossible Forgotten Practice Experience

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mathias-Courbois/1347407051 Mathias Courbois

    Oh right, now I see it… Pretty cool!

  • Ashe

    fly yielding impossible
    find applying forgotten
    four introduction practice
    failing together experience
    these are the first words
    i dont get why four is there tho

  • sunny

    The left side says (from top to bottom, going from the left column to the right):
    fly find four failing yielding applying introduction together impossible forgotten practice experience

    no idea what it means though..

  • alberto

    On the left I can read
    Fly find four failing
    Yielding applying introduction together
    Impossible forgotten practice experience

  • http://yahoo.com CXchris

    Wo fa shing zhe shi hen li chi qui.

    PUt this in traslator. It mean s i tink this is really weird.

  • Zarfia

    that’s so interesting :D

  • Cerise Trupp

    I love puzzles…….Thanks, it was fun!!!!!

    fly yielding impossible
    find applying forgotten
    four introduction practice
    failing together experience

    little bo her
    bo peep sheep
    peep has and
    little lost can

  • Zachariah Wee

    SO DARN EASY
    L SIDE
    FLY
    FIND
    FOUR
    FALLING
    YIELDING
    APPLYING
    INTRODUCTION
    TOGETHER
    IMPOSSIBLE
    FORGOTTEN
    PRACTICE
    EXPERIENCE

    R SIDE
    LITTLE
    BO
    PEEP
    LITTLE
    BO
    PEEP
    HAS
    LOST
    HER
    SHEEP
    AND
    CAN

    • 111

      she lost her sheep, and she can lose her sheep?

  • Alisha and Via

    oooooooh

  • Kevin

    Very nice indeed. :) I have a hard time reading some of them though.

  • Kieran Wall

    this is really cool

  • http://www.ymail.com Ian

    It says
    left side
    FLY
    FIND
    FOUR
    FALLING
    YIELDING
    APPLYING
    INTRODUCTION
    TOGETHER
    IMPOSSIBLE
    FORGOTTEN
    PRACTICE
    EXPERIENCE
    Right Side so easy

    LITTLE
    BO
    PEEP
    LITTLE
    BO
    PEEP
    HAS
    LOST
    HER
    SHEEP
    AND
    CAN

  • J-Wuh?

    This looks like some penmanship book from asia

  • http://www.designplus.co.za Jessy Interior Decorating

    I love the art of calligraphy, and it is an art I have tried to do it but like of lost it. I must take it up again, its very relaxing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jakey-ONeill/100000110701193 Jakey O’Neill

    an illusion? i hav no idea wot it is!!!

  • javacuzi

    its little bo peep!

  • SHYzone

    WAIT is this real or did someone just make it up?!

  • NSGer

    oh i had to do that for ART last year, we had to write our names in that calligraphy. Everyone acutally though it was normal calligraphy until we were given the words that they made up…

  • GenCat

    I see it. …..How?

  • random person

    its probably can for the “nac”

  • Helen

    It’s really hard for me because I’m Chinese and I can read it. So I can’t see the letters. Oh well. Now I see it because I read the comments.

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