Picturesque Language: Birth of a New Language

Project Leader: Jiyun Sung

Number of participants: 12

Length: 5 days


Communication has faced more issues in recent years. With continuous globalization, miscommunication and mistranslation prevents the transfer of information, wisdom, thoughts and emotion.

Picturesque language is to challenge the conventional system of languages and venture to create a new system of language with minimal language barriers. In the end, the project aspires to invent a language of their own that is more appropriate for every member of this society. The project will highlight the importance of communication and issues that arise from inclusive communication. It will reveal to the participants different modes of communication and its flexibility.

Basic timetable/goal for each day:

  1. Linguistics: How languages are formed
  2. Art History: Medieval, Renaissance specially
  3. Graphic design, layout: importance in readability
  4. Illustration, narrativity: imbedding stories in pictures
  5. Communication: visual, verbal, contextual

Topics of discussion (one per session, in the first half)

  1. Meaning of language
    1. What is language, and why are they here?
    2. What do we use language for?
      1. Evolutionary theories
      2. Modes of communication
    3. Where does language fall short?
    4. Why can’t we communicate with each other?
    5. What are some drawbacks of miscommunication?


Session 1 Workshop: experimenting with communication. Every participant will have the same topic: to describe their favourite food. The goal is to communicate the topic without English/native language. Participants are encouraged to ‘talk’ through gestures, drawings, smells, objects, facial expressions etc. Discussion follows on which was easiest, toughest and most useful.

  1. Reading pictures
    1. How can we read the pictures?
    2. How do symbols influence the language?
    3. What can be said with pictures instead of words?
    4. How have the past use pictures to convey meaning?
  2. How has the present use pictures to convey meaning?

Session 2 Workshop: The participants will be given time and materials to ‘express’ something about themselves (the topics will be decided on together during the session) their task will be to communicate through the 2-dimensional, non-verbal means. The goal of this workshop is to convey message that can last a long time, that can be understood without the speaker present. These will be discussed and documented.

  1. Writing pictures
    1. Grammar of visual structure
    2. What is the most important aspect of communication? How can it be achieved?
    3. What are the benefits of picture language?
    4. How can technology benefit with picture language?
    5. Delivering narratives
      1. How do you describe yourself without verbal language?

            Session 3 Workshop: From this session, the participants will be working as one group to form language. Based on the previous workshops, the participants will narrow down their aspects of language: which was most effective, usable etc. and they will start to form ‘words’ or building blocks of the language.

  1. Listening to pictures
    1. What is being said in the pictures?
    2. Who are these for?

            Session 4 Workshop: The participants will continue to build a system of language, with more words. This session will be focused on building ‘grammar’ – structure – of the language. The name for this new language will be made as well.

  1. Putting it all together
    1. Creating a system of language, agreed with all ages, for communication
    2. Where is it derived from?
    3. What is inherent in this new language system?
    4. What is learned in this new language system?

            Session 5 Workshop: The participants will have a chance to apply the language to conventional system. For example, they will match the language to an existing fairy tale to see how well it works, and what can be improved.