PicToLife: the development of a contemporary Chinglish visual language

Yang, Yang
Ho, King Tong
Clark, Simon
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Master of Art and Design
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Auckland University of Technology

The intention of my project was to develop a contemporary ‘Chinglish’ visual language called PicToLife. PicToLife attempts to re-transform the form of Chinese characters into their original state of pictograph. The project makes key reference to the Hui-yi [會意] principle of the six classical formative methods of traditional Chinese characters.

The theme of this project is Indoorsy, concerning a phenomenon that refers to a secluded and cyber-addicted lifestyle. ‘Indoorsy’, Zhai [宅] in Chinese, literally means ‘dwelling’ or ‘inhabitation’. It has been transformed to become a popular neologism to describe a new lifestyle of the Chinese younger generations who always stay at home being cyber geeks. They are addicted to surfing in the unconstrained virtual space, and live a sheltered life away from reality.

‘Hui-yi’ literally means ‘meeting of ideas’ to suggest empathetic meaning. I expand this to argue that Hui-yi is an emotional stimulus that provides a hook on which to hang the meaning, and explore if it is viable for it to be applied to the creative process of contemporary design practice to construct metaphors and convey emotions.

Using Hui-yi as the guiding principle, I transformed Chinese calligraphic strokes into pictographic components, then utilised them to develop Chinglish narrations.

The research contents were based on my personal experience as an international student and an overseas indoorsy girl [留洋宅女] who speaks Chinglish. I have produced a visual poem PicToPoem and a visual diary PicToDiary to reveal PicToLife. Together they form a Chinglish visual language that strives to enable the observers to interpret the everyday discourse of indoorsy, and to substantiate the hybrid nature and identity of indoorsy.

Chinglish , Pictography , Indoorsy lifestyle , Hui-yi , Emotional intentionality , International overseas students
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