In Black and White

BBC 4 series The Secret History of Writing includes Chinese characters.
Episode 1 introduces the archaic script of oracle bones.  It also highlighted the similarities in the methods used by ancient Egyptian, Assyrian, Mayan and Chinese scripts to convey both sounds and meaning.  Shots of an oriental calligrapher illustrated the effortless flow of black ink on white paper.


Episode 2 includes oriental paper making, and its gradual transmission to the west.

Episode 3 features water calligraphy in China, and views from contemporary artist Xu Bing, including his Book from the Ground, composed solely of general symbols and signs.
Xu Bing is of course well known for his other explorations of writing : the Book from the Sky – a tour de force of  woodblock printing of unreal characters –  Landscript, and Square Word calligraphy.


“Twenty years ago I made Book from the Sky, a book of illegible Chinese characters that no one could read. Now I have created Book from the Ground, a book that anyone can read.”—Xu Bing