Calligraphy of East and Hangul
Show the Invisible Sound!
Writing methods of the East and the West and its difference in Expression
Unlike animals, human beings have verbalized sound for communication. To prevent sound from being evanescent, humans created letters, which opened the door for civilizations. There is not much difference between the East and the West in regards to the creation and development of letters however, the tools to write the letters are distinctively different in these cultures. While the West used the end of a bird’s feather, the East made a brush using animal fur. This was the birth and usage of the writing brush. At first, the writing brush was primarily used to record, its elasticity had enabled writing to advance further from such a simple recording of events to calligraphy or letter modeling artistry. In China, Wang Xizhi, who is revered as the Sage of Calligraphy, and other prominent calligraphers such as Quyang Xun and Yan Zhenqing who were influenced by Wang Xizhi, were born. With great calligraphers such as Kim Jeong-Hui of the Joseon Dynasty and Inoue Yuichi of Japan, calligraphy progressed from just being a means of recording to one containing values of the design and artistry. Calligraphy is a style of writing that distinctively utilizes the characteristics of writing brush. One’s commands of moving the brush, was pushing down the brush with varying degree of strength, and using the lightness and darkness of the ink stick to symbolize light, shade, and dryness that represent human being’s sincere emotion , which cannot be expressed through a more standardized letter or artificial tool. Moreover, it felicitously expressed the formativeness of the Chinese letters, which are hieroglyphics. Therefore, calligraphy can be equally termed as a unique letter modeling artistry, which was developed only in Korea, China, and Japan that use three different languages but share the culture of the Chinese character.
Hangul, semantic and hieroglyphic letter beyond phonetic alphabet
In 1443, Sejong the king of Josen dynasty invented a letter system that was designed for the Korean to overcome the paradox of using the same letters from China despite the distinctness in the sound of speech. This is called Hangul. On the base of such innovation lies the design principle—difference. What Steve Jobs had put forward in the 21st century as the slogan of Apple, “think different” was already practiced in the 15th century by King Sejong of Joseon dynasty. He created the letter for the common’s intellectual capability who previously was illiterate, which shows that the 15th century Joseon dynasty was already democratic—although for a short period of time. The vowels of Hangul are based on Choen-ji-in ideology, which refers to the harmonious life of heaven, earth, and man. Moreover, the cycle of seasonal change elucidates the logic of sound. Through a scientific principle in which the vowel “ㅗ” becomes “ㅏ” or “ㅜ”, Hangul enabled the writing down of the entire sound of the world easily. In addition, the consonants are designed after the structure of the mouth that speaks out the sound, therefore, Hangul is “a hieroglyphic letter that is sculpted through sound” unveiling the invisible sound.With it, in Hangul, the initial, middle, and final consonant must be combined, which adds three dimensionality and an image to the letter, thereby overcoming the limits of the phonetic alphabet.
Unveiling the Invisible Sound, Calligraphy of the East
What I am interested in is to disclose the invisible sound and to elucidate the making of Hangul in which sound and shapes are combined. More specifically, I have focused on calligraphy, combined with the design and penmanship, to let sound be more audible or visible, and to show the weight, time, and space of writings. For example, the final consonant of “kkot” (꽃, flower), “ㅊ” simultaneously means soil as well as becomes the root, and the middle consonant “ㅗ” serves as the center of the letter and the branch. The initial consonant “ㄲ” turns into a blossomed flower or a leaf thereby revealing both the meaning and the shape of the letter. Another example is the onomatopoeic sound and letter “kung” (쿵, bump) when an object falls. Using the writing brush of the East and utilizing its flexibility enables one to express the size, weight, speed, and height of the object.
In addition, for a company logo, calligraphy is used as part of marketing strategy to show the property of products and deliver various stories regarding the products through fonts. This enhances a more quick and easy communication with the consumer which often leads to the consumer's decision on purchasing. All of my work can be defined as “ work to mold the meanings of writings into fonts”. In other words, it is “semantic hieroglyph of Hangul fonts represented through calligraphy”. This is to naturally sculpt the meaning, sound, and shape of the letters into fonts. It is to renovate the design and artistic value of Hangul through this style of work, and to revitalize the idea of an easy, enjoyable communication that served as the basis of creating Hangul.
Today, letter is more than recording or fixing speech that fades away but an object to laugh, cry, dance and sing with. With us and with nature!