For a practice of crossculturalism on the new Silk Road

1. How to manage inter-cultural communication?

silk road

The proposal is to open a think tank about our cultural diversities in order to pave the way for further international exchanges on the new Silk Road.
The need for a practice of crosscultralism has been addressed in my philosophy lectures for a few decades. I pose the questions: How to think crossculturalism? How to open the way to communicate in the broadest-minded approach possible?
The purpose is to compare the background of different cultures, to think about the main supporting structures of each of them and to find parallels between them. This way we try to point out similarities and more importantly we can have mutual enlightenment.
On another hand, nowadays we have to realize we are all of us involved in the consumer society and therefore we have the same aspirations and needs. Moreover we benefit from excellent communication tools to introduce and develop links between partners all over the world. Because we are human beings we are eager to fulfill our spiritual needs to counter-balance the materialistic society we are involved in. This is why we have to rethink the connections between us and the world, between us and the others. So, a part of us is looking for another world in which we feel attracted to what is strange, foreign, undiscovered, mysterious, unfamiliar, untold…
The goal of my approach is to open a platform on the web site to enable students, artists, lecturers, professors and scholars from all horizons to communicate with each other and take distance from their own cultures. The platform will give opportunities to develop and confront ideas, images, stories and feelings about what we know or imagine of the Silk Road, its past and its present.
I am convinced of the benefit of sharing our respective aesthetics and values. To end this presentation I would like to use an example of what we can do in this framework.

universal icons by Xu Bing

The Chinese contemporary artist Xu Bing (1) “wrote” a book with an universal language he created from simple images such as emoticons. Today, via the worldwide web, we can use universal icons that help us invent a new manner of organizing our thoughts.
In my Brussels ESA Saint Luc Institute, students are working on these new projects of graphic design process using words matching contemporary images and symbols.
The aim of the platform will be to find new links and affinities or synergies between our different imaginations. Like Xu Bing we can be drawn to the connections he establishes between signs and what they point to.
The last point of this presentation should give us the possibility to reread the legends, myths and stories from the famous travelers such as Alexander the Great, Marco Polo, the Chinese monk Tripikata, … Thanks to this background we would be able to reinvent and transmit new contemporary tales better adapted to the new Silk Road.

Simone Schuiten

1) XU Bing, The book from the ground, Une histoire sans mots, Grasset 2013