1. The workshop of April 2016
Our main questions are: how to better communicate? How to open the way to communicate in the broadest-minded approach possible?
Nowadays we need to fulfill our spiritual needs to counter-balance the materialist society we are involved in. Therefore we have to rethink the connections between us and the world, between us and the others. Art, in a very general sense, enables this kind of encounter with the unknown. In other, words we tend to be tired of the known world and we feel attracted to what is strange, foreign, undiscovered, mysterious, unfamiliar, unidentified, untold…We have tamed and even enslaved our thinking and our feelings. That’s why it is necessary to revive and to energize them through more lively and dynamic actions.
As we are nowadays very focused on sustainable development -China having already anciently thought it out- we are establishing bonds with Nature and natural cycles. Let us consider man’s first contacts and connections with his natural environment. We have to remember that writing has a double function; it enables us to detach ourselves from the real, but also to return to it. We can make a comparison between “wei” and “wu wei” in the Taoist philosophy. Through language we can separate from, we can make sense of a factious world and paradoxically we can also be in union with reality. This way, we can go back to the general term “graphein” which means to leave a trace or a record. That is why man resorts to signs. Man has the fundamental need to project his representations on a concrete, material support, so as to leave traces of his existence. Something happens independently of the realm of the oral language. The oral language is spontaneous and direct whereas the written language is more abstract and indirect.
We can follow a first avenue if we consider we have produced formal languages to record our thoughts, our words and our music. However we have had no such language to represent our body movements and expressions. We must also remember the myth of Babel’s universal language and compare it to the new virtual means of communication. Nowadays, via the worldwide web, we can use universal icons. The aim of the workshop will be to find new links and affinities or synergies between man and Nature, between men and between our students. Coming back to the Chinese writing we are interested in its performative aspect. We have heard that the Chinese writing can gather energy, looking for dynamic flows and a perfect balance. We are eager to meet the power and strength of your Chinese signs.
For us, the beginning of our search is the works of Xu Bing. We are attracted to the correspondences he establishes between signs and what they point to.
I would like to present the student’s proposals.
The first one comes from the illustration department. Cléo Blaise and Mathilde Vandenbussche make connections between signs and words. We can start an exercise asking the students to make a connection between the new signs produced by Cléo and Mathilde and their language.
Comic strips department: Aurélie Renier and Charline Harlepin’s proposal. How to represent the body movement? Movement notations, movement signs.
The first idea is that Chinese characters inspired them to find a sort of body language. They saw similarities between the classical dance moves and the dynamics of the calligraphy.
Several students from the comic strips section propose the creation of a book in which each box will be filled with pictograms understandable in both cultures. Music can be integrated and used to help the reader. So this kind of work doesn’t need any word. It is a silent story .
Emmanuel Van Laethem et Alexendra Zenina
In the same way Christopher Boyd wants to use universal pictograms to represent Chinese and Belgian students and their collective works. As so you can see or read, the story has a happy end, the publishing of a booklet.
Illustration department: Louise Hendricks ‘proposal.
Like two masters, i.e. Xu Bing and Henri Matisse she is interested in the structure of leaves and she develops it into a formal language.
For the other writing exercises Louise makes bonds with children writing and/or music language. She develops a mix draw/writing system.
Dialogue between cultures: Pierre Beaupere, comic strips department
2. The workshop of April 2017
New Silk Road Map
The New Silk Road is a perfect opportunity for new types of exchanges between younger generations, not only in political and economic aspects, but in artistic fields as well, which is where this workshop comes in.
This map retracing the journey of raw materials through Eurasian continent created about 30 students, who all teamed up to reflect on all kinds of thoughts and ideas inspired by New Silk Road. The concept of our contemporary world and its current turmoil, have also influenced this work. The great new technological advances that are made to guarantee its constant evolution.
The New Silk Road itself is represented on the map as a network of black lines, providing an essential basis for new and innovative ideas about the geographical and cultural discourse.
Silk is, of course, no longer the prime and prestigious fabric for it once was; a new material made its promising debut in the textile industry, as synthetic cloth from crude oil. The economic focus has thus shifted, from old to new, Silk Oil.
One way for this oil to travel is through pipelines, the arteries of modernity. They are crucial to all powerful geographic political and economic entities, most notably China. Pipelines are physical manifestations of successful trade and cultural alliances between countries, they transcend borders, avoiding potential opponents to peaceful commerce.
Space and airways are key components of new modes of trade, as shown by direct links between cities en earth and man-made objects in the air, such as satellites that carry information and planes that deliver products. The Silk Road has expended beyond the linear pattern of old travel routes and has taken on a new dimension with the advent of modernization.
It is important to though besides cultural exchanges is cultural differences, on the map, these are shown as very distinct and specific lines. Different writings and alphabets account for language barriers, styles of writing have a rich and long history of being source of variety between different nations. Now, in the age of information, these barriers broken down easing the East-West dialogue.
The sea is made out of discount coupons, to symbolize the worldwide effect of marketing.
The New Silk Road represents a new era of exchange between distant civilizations, it opens up a myriad of new opportunities to see the foreign and the unknown through new lenses, new eyes and to continue expanding our understanding of the world, the other and ourselves.
Click on the first image hereafter to enlarge and see the Gallery
Click on the first image hereafter to enlarge and see the Gallery
3 The workshop of April 2018