Celebrated Chinese artist Xu Bing who is also vice president of China’s Central Academy of Fine Arts, has authored a novel titled Book from the Ground: From Point-to-Point, a tale recounting 24 hours in the life of a young white collar worker of a major city.
What sets the book apart is its unique presentation – it is “written” without a single word, instead, it is composed of hundreds of icons, and pictograms, that Xu has been collecting for years making it a book that can be read by any one. It is an outstanding attempt to produce a universal form of written communication that goes beyond cultural, linguistic, class, and educational backgrounds. In Xu’s words, “The illiterate can enjoy the delight of reading just as the intellectual does.”
“It’s the first book that everyone in the world can read, since it needs no translation,” said the artist, adding that currently, by using a very simple system of signs, emoticon users, especially young people, enjoy the ability “to communicate on the international level.”
“The idea for the book began 13 years ago, when I was having expositions all over the world and I spent a lot of time in airports,” said Xu, who said he could not avoid noticing, in an enclave where people of all nationalities mingle, that the informational icons visible everywhere were universally understood.
The book includes 24 chapters narrating by using visual icons and telling the story of a day in a person’s life as he gets up in the morning, goes through his workday, goes out with his friends after work and then finally goes to bed.
“Book from the Ground” is a continuation of Xu’s book entitled “Book from the Sky,” a work with illegible Chinese characters that nobody can read, using a language invented by the artist himself.