ISF Letterpress Prints_MustaaliRaj

River of Language

River of Language
 

River of Language

Typographic artwork created for the Indian Summer Festival — one of Vancouver’s most distinctive arts + culture events that offers multi-arts experiences curated through a South Asian lens and centering the exciting work of culturally diverse artists. Each year, the festival invites inspiring artists to create a commissioned artwork in response to the festival theme. The work they make then sets the visual language of the entire festival.

2020

PRINT, DESIGN, TYPOGRAPHY

ART DIRECTION, SPATIAL DESIGN

IN COLLABORATION WITH MINAHIL BUKHARI

IN COLLAORATION WITH MINAHIL BUKHARI

ISF Letterpress Prints_Stacked_MustaaliRaj
Cover-Art_ISF2020_MustaaliRaj_concept

CONCEPT

Language is fluid and flowing like water. The word for water in Japanese is mizu. In Hindi, it’s paani. In Swahili, they call it maji. Although these words convey the same sentiment, linguistically they are very different. But there is one word, the only one, which unites most languages phonetically, and that word is “Ma”.

Russian linguist Roman Jakobson explains that the easiest vocalizations for a human to make are open-mouth vowel sounds. Babies can make vowel sounds from day one. They summon their energy to push out that new consonant sound “mmmm” and then relax into an open mouth vowel, usually “ah” — which is the easiest. Hence, we get the universal sound “Ma”, describing the entity who gave us the most cherished love in our most vulnerable state. Almost every language recognizes a form of it. While it’s true that most languages vary when it comes to the formal word mother, the intimate sound ‘Ma’ stays the same.

The sound/letter M (Ma) has a strong connection to both water (river) and mother tongue (language). The letter M is derived from the ancient Phoenician ‘Mem’, which most likely originates from a “Proto-Sinaitic” (Bronze Age) adoption of the Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol for water.

The final artwork combines and integrates the letter ‘M’ from different languages/scripts across South Asia, Canada and other parts of the world. The design is an abstract pictographic mark, which represents the River of Language (ISF’s theme for this year). It is an amalgamation of the various scripts flowing together into a maze like structure.

CONCEPT

Language is fluid and flowing like water. The word for water in Japanese is mizu. In Hindi, it’s paani. In Swahili, they call it maji. Although these words convey the same sentiment, linguistically they are very different. But there is one word, the only one, which unites most languages phonetically, and that word is “Ma”.

Russian linguist Roman Jakobson explains that the easiest vocalizations for a human to make are open-mouth vowel sounds. Babies can make vowel sounds from day one. They summon their energy to push out that new consonant sound “mmmm” and then relax into an open mouth vowel, usually “ah” — which is the easiest. Hence, we get the universal sound “Ma”, describing the entity who gave us the most cherished love in our most vulnerable state. Almost every language recognizes a form of it. While it’s true that most languages vary when it comes to the formal word mother, the intimate sound ‘Ma’ stays the same.

The sound/letter M (Ma) has a strong connection to both water (river) and mother tongue (language). The letter M is derived from the ancient Phoenician ‘Mem’, which most likely originates from a “Proto-Sinaitic” (Bronze Age) adoption of the Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol for water.

The final artwork combines and integrates the letter ‘M’ from different languages/scripts across South Asia, Canada and other parts of the world. The design is an abstract pictographic mark, which represents the River of Language (ISF’s theme for this year). It is an amalgamation of the various scripts flowing together into a maze like structure 


     

↑                                                                                                                         ☰                                                                                                                          ↓
⇧                                                                                                                   ☰                                                                                                                   
⇧                                                                                                                                                                                              ⇩
⇧                                                                      ☰                                                                      ⇩
⇧                              ☰                              ⇩

© 2020 Mustaali Raj. 

Creative + Design Freelance

Email       Instagram      Behance       Linkedin