«Di Shu: Ground Calligraphy in China» is a survey about contemporary calligraphic practices in Chinese public spaces, a photographic and video documentary project developed during summer 2011 in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenyang. The videos presented on this platform are moments, uncut real time sequences giving the opportunity to fully observe an inscription in the making: capturing at the scale of public space the different handwritten gestures and the duration of strokes.
In China cosmology, the square or «di» represents the earth and the circle represents the sky; «shu» signifies book, writing by association. The expression «di shu» literaly means square book, but here it means earth calligraphy: practicing ephemeral calligraphy on the ground, using clear water as ink. Thousands of anonymous street calligraphers operate daily in Chinese parks and streets, endlessly tracing long or short texts composed of «hanzi» signs, inscriptions slowly disappearing as water evaporates. Very popular nowadays, this recent phenomenon appeared in the beginning of the 1990s in a park in the north of Beijing before spreading in most of major Chinese cities. Based on classic Chinese literature, poetry or aphorisms, these monumental letterings, ranging from static regular to highly cursive styles, convoke the whole body in a spontaneous dance and infinite formal renewals. The calligraphic practice corresponds to a research of self accomplishment or improvement, this improvement modifying our perception of the world.
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