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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

Square Calligraphy ClassroomA 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.

Square Calligraphy Classroom

Comments

67 Responses
    • random person says:

      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 says:

      the “anc” makes “can”

  1. rachel says:

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

  2. zumbi says:

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

  3. Facebook User says:

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

  4. Darm58 says:

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

  5. loek says:

    the characters are words.

    not that hard to spot.

  6. Living Sound says:

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

  7. Jouni Saikkonen says:

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

  8. J. Wang says:

    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

  9. Easy Spotter says:

    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. :)

  10. Monxy says:

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

  11. rmarian24 says:

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

  12. Jim OFlaherty says:

    Very nice. I like!

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

  13. Dave says:

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

  14. Monxy says:

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

  15. Matthias Courboiz says:

    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”.

  16. Sam says:

    Little bo peep has lost her sheep and . . .

  17. ET says:

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

  18. M says:

    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

  19. Kerry Hjertaas says:

    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.

  20. zumbi says:

    now I can spot all of them… really great

  21. Care Bear says:

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

  22. Snowman25 says:

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

  23. Detective Kitty says:

    i can’t get the left side…

  24. kaila says:

    that was cute

  25. Isaac says:

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

  26. steve says:

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

  27. Gordon says:

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

  28. Alexandre says:

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

  29. Alexandre says:

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

  30. Demona Stephens says:

    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

  31. Demona Stephens says:

    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

  32. wandering_goat says:

    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.

  33. wandering_goat says:

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

  34. Leon says:

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

  35. Sarah Smith says:

    I have rarely seen such a good illusion!

  36. vurdlak says:

    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 :]

  37. zaca006 says:

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

  38. Zoe says:

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

  39. Saoirse says:

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

    Very Cool! ^_^

  40. Janey says:

    (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.

  41. Roland says:

    On the left:

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

  42. Oh right, now I see it… Pretty cool!

  43. Ashe says:

    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

  44. sunny says:

    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..

  45. alberto says:

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

  46. CXchris says:

    Wo fa shing zhe shi hen li chi qui.

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

  47. Zarfia says:

    that’s so interesting :D

  48. Cerise Trupp says:

    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

  49. Zachariah Wee says:

    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

  50. Alisha and Via says:

    oooooooh

  51. Kevin says:

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

  52. Kieran Wall says:

    this is really cool

  53. Ian says:

    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

  54. J-Wuh? says:

    This looks like some penmanship book from asia

  55. 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.

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

  57. javacuzi says:

    its little bo peep!

  58. SHYzone says:

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

  59. NSGer says:

    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…

  60. GenCat says:

    I see it. …..How?

  61. random person says:

    its probably can for the “nac”

  62. Helen says:

    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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