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Ping Ze

Ping Ze

Calligraphy, Graphic Design

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A part of the thesis project completed for the MFA in graphic design program at Boston University. 

This project investigates the classical Chinese ci poetry, and explores how to translate abstract literary and phonological concepts into visual elements, in order to make them more accessible to the audience regardless of their knowledge of the Chinese language. 

In Middle Chinese, all of the Chinese characters are divided into two groups based on their tones: ping, literally “level”, meaning no pitch changes when the character is pronounced; and ze, literally “oblique”, meaning with pitch changes when pronounced. This idea of ping vs. ze is especially important to the ci poetry, because a series of metric patterns, referred to as "tunes", regulate the tone of each character in a poem: whether it needs to be a ping character or a ze one. Each of these tunes is associated with a title, called cipai, which serves as a code name, since usually the title does not describe the tune itself and has nothing to do with the content of the actual poem. 

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This series of posters seek to visually represent the pingze patterns of a selection of tunes, as well as the disconnection between the tune titles and their meanings. A system of stripe patterns was developed based on the symbols that represent Yin and Yang in I Ching, in order to visualize the phonological patterns of pingze in each tune. The tune title is then written in cursive calligraphy, to render them illegible and abstract, and thus distant them from their meanings. Additional information is also provided regarding the origins of the tune titles.

A scroll book accompanies the posters, which complies the historical research done throughout the project. See the book here.

Click on the image to enlarge.

 
 

See the book here.