Winners of the global open call for entries 2015/16
Globalmurmurs: A celebration of diversity and equal rights.
The jury of the FORTY FIVE SYMBOLS open call for entries “globalmurmurs 2015/16” was greatly impressed with the quality of projects submitted from a variety of countries including Taiwan, South Africa, Germany and the U.S.. Overall, the participants demonstrate agency to depict social challenges and use sophisticated methods to translate their political voice into compelling visual artwork using the minimal approach of forty-five black and white symbols. The submitted visual narratives express individual perspectives on the topics of transforming gender & identity, shifting cities & urban inequality and global social & climate changes.
The selection process of the jury was driven by the following criteria: Ability to translate topics into visuals, the level of exploration of the symbolic elements to transmit the message/story, systematic approach and uniqueness of the visual language. The Jury recognizes the amount of work that was invested into the submitted projects and greatly appreciates the diverse, thoughtful and imaginative ideas that were received through the proposals.

Lin Yu-Heng

Jury Statement: Chinese characters are – due to their uninterrupted history – the oldest system of writing in the world. As each character carries meaning as well as phonetic, it represent a logographic system in contrast to the phonographic system of Latin letters. Chinese characters are diverse in their complexity. The most simple character consists of one stroke, while the most complex of 64. Lin YU-HUENG explores the potential of Chinese characters by creating new Hanzi. Seven existing Chinese characters/radicals were used as a resource to set 45 ideas into writing. All characters of this set represent various concepts of identity, gender, relationship and family. The compositions of the new creations are following a highly systematic approach. For those who can read or who know the basic seven characters, almost all new Hanzi become self-explaining. The design proclaims to treat all forms of relationships equally, as the monoliner stroke and the geometric formal design creates a rational but very graphical style. The 45 symbols of this project do not solely promote tolerance for multiple models of relationship, they also demonstrate the flexibility of Chinese characters. In this sense it is a brilliant concept visualised by a strong design. See project

Yoko Kristiansen

Jury Statement: The project “Watching You” by Yoko Kristiansen critically depicts surveillance as a global phenomenon of control and oppression. Yoko develops a precise and coherent character-set in which she explores the topic of surveillance from diverse perspectives. Building upon existing visual codes, she creates a new and unique system of symbols commenting on military insignia through simple geometric shapes while maintaining a clear and personal handwriting. The jury was particularly impressed by the translation into three-dimensional badges. This physical representation of the symbols highlights the particular “aggressive” ductus of the set and portrays how surveillance has become omnipresent. Yoko Kristiansen’s commentary on contemporary mass observation frames our helplessness when it comes to deciding about the right versus the wrong; the fight against violence versus the protection of privacy. Her response as a designer is to create a visual system of transparency that clarifies identity and intentions. The set of symbols is a radical proposal of giving up privacy to make surveillance obsolete and is an excellent example of how design thinking can not only solve problems but also initiate much-needed discussions. See project

Raafia Jessa

Jury Statement: Language is a complex system of communication that is spoken or signed, but it can also be encoded into secondary media using auditory, visual, or tactile notations. However, what do we see when we speak? How can sound and appearance be combined in one set of symbols? Raafia Jessa builds a common language that combines Urdu, Persian, Arabic and Latin characters based on their phonetics and merges the visual character and its sound in a sensitive and elegant way. The proportioned letterforms and the systematic compilation of lines and points provide /ˈlo.kwiː/ a „super real“ look and without any doubt it could be a sophisticated alphabet in which letters represent phonemes. Above all, Raafia Jessa creates a speculative master system of language that points out our commonalities as human beings: We might use different semantic concepts but we all communicate through similar systems using our basic senses. What stops us from using these highly developed means to create the urgently needed social justice across cultures and nationalities? Approaches like /ˈlo.kwiː/ that use critical design thinking to create surprising new models are steps into a future that celebrates diversity through finding common grounds. See project

Thi Tran

Jury Statement: Unique personality traits, likes, dislikes, mood swings each distinguishes one human from the other. Same as the snowflakes that have been proven to be distinct in form and grows into a myriad of shapes, all depending on the environment and humidity of the air where it forms. Thi Tran’s clever approach of creating unique snowflakes representing each an individual is a fitting match as the diversity of snow crystals is unlimited and “no two are alike”. Moreover, this metaphor is suitable – where the human is a fraction of the society, the world, the universe and the galaxy… “Uniqueness” presents the individual’s traits, passion, specialty and behavior in an array of intricate forms and shapes. It opens the countless possibilities of interpreting the individual in a singular approach. The displayed 45 symbols instigate a long journey of unlimited visual explorations. Each motif/human is unique yet merged in a society and becomes part of the whole. It is only with scrutiny that one can decipher and learn more about the other. See project

Helen Nerio

Jury Statement: The power of articulate speech is only one characteristic that distinguishes human beings from other animate beings. We use this ability to build and maintain our networks. The evolution of technology did not only change the way we communicate one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many it also allows our networks to be omnipresent and changes our perception of geography and location of the individual. Helen Nerio explores the diversity of these new communication channels and depicts how they create an invisible, complex and multi-layered structure in our urban environments. She successfully creates a linguistic system that applies its own grammar to govern the composition of forty-five symbols. The structural rules allow combinations of active/inactive, source/user, stationary/mobile, and poor/fast. The outstanding quality of Helen Nerio’s work is the creation of a visual scheme that conveys the feeling of a writing system. In this sense, it closely connects to the Phaistos Disc which incorporates meaningful icons of its time. In opposite to other writing systems that reflect tools and methods of their time, Nerio’s work is a speculative design approach that invites our minds to travel and imagine the visual notations of the future. See project

Lee, Chieh-Ting

Jury Statement: We encounter gods, saints and patrons in all cultures, at all times and during all steps of human development and cultural progress. In this sense, symbolic characters are a fascinating global phenomenon. Thousands of spiritual figures inhabit the global heaven of gods sharing similar tasks and dedicating their attention to a plurality of functions. Even though they are individual expressions of different cultures they represent the same anxieties, pleasures, wishes and projections we share among human beings. Chieh-Ting Lee depicts his close relationship to divinity and relates individual aspects of it to specific moments in his everyday life. Within the context of Chinese mythology he has developed a sophisticated and individual collection of his private encounters with deity. His set of symbols reminds us to embrace live and its phenomena—no matter if we believe in gods, evolution or randomness. Chieh-Ting Lee revives gods and their sublimeness in our contemporary time using graphic transformation of brilliant quality that conveys the spirit of Chinese imagery in combination with contemporary minimal design language. Despite the diversity of the very detailed figures, the forty-five symbols generate a unique self contained, strong and convincing visual & symbolic universe. The jury was particularly pleased with the idea of using history in combination with personal experience to create a strong visual narrative. See project

The jurors of the globalmurmurs 2015/16 open call
Randa Abdel Baki
Associate Professor, Lebanese American University Beirut

Olivier Arcioli
Lecturer and Researcher, Academy of Media Arts Cologne

Annelie Franke
Associate Professor, Universidad de los Andes Bogotá

Pascal Glissmann
Assistant Professor, Parsons School for Design New York

Andreas Henrich
Professor, Academy of Media Arts Cologne

Mariko Takagi
Assistant Professor, Hong Kong Baptist University