What is the relationship between word and image?
Both Chinese and ancient Egyptian writing systems were based on visual signs. What’s more, in both traditions, images were almost always accompanied by text of some sort. These two objects demonstrate the rich dialogue that can occur between visual and textual elements placed in proximity.
Questions to Consider
- Given that both Egyptian hieroglyphs and Chinese characters are based on images, how do we distinguish what is text and what is “art” in each of these pieces? What makes a pictograph different from a picture?
- Compare the relationship between words and pictures in each of these pieces. Do you think the meaning of each is dependent on the other? Why or why not?
- One of these pieces includes writing that memorializes an individual. The other includes a poem. Is your opinion of each as “art” affected by knowledge of context? Do you think artistry is inherently linked to context when it comes to writing?
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