LANGUAGES MATTER! A UNESCO poster competition

Competition Details

Stephanie Kressin

by stephanie kressin

Visual communication is my occupation, but this challenge, of literally visualizing communication, has occupied my creative nerve in more ways than I had imagined. To visualize images of all of the senses necessary to communicate the intricacies of human spoken and written languages, to appeal to a global audience and include all of the goals written in the call for action by UNESCO’s Director-General, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura is nothing less than complex.

“Languages lie at the heart of all social, economic and cultural life” inspired the thought of morphing many portraits of actual living diverse human beings of all ages and colour, in a simple and distinct manner. Approach 1. Language is an integral part of everyday life: it brings people together, it transcends differences, and it celebrates connections. As a graphic creation, the poster itself intends to manifest this vision, bringing together same diverse human elements, to form one meaningful, manifold whole.

While researching the origins of language for inspiration to simplification, I read, “When languages fade, so does the world’s rich tapestry of cultural diversity.”

Questions of human evolution, existence and extinction arose. What if all of this were not? Key elements of our humanity—self-consciousness, symbolic language, morality, and culture—are part of an evolutionary process. The complexity of our contemporary selves is essentially a cultural transformation through history, myth and legend. So, how about looking at the whole situation from another perspective. What if we were to take it all away? Why do languages really matter?

Approach 2. Isn’t the purpose of mother language day to increase awareness and promote the diversity and quality of life? Extinction led me to remove it all, piece by piece. Distinct reference to peoples ages, colours, diversity and culture—gone. Imagery of human communication tools—simplified. Images of people, mothers and children, any particular classifications, or differences—removed. Don’t we end up with but a shadow of ourselves?

What is the actual essence of human origin, without going all of the way back to the big bang? The origins and development of the qualities that distinguish us as human, lie within hope and the seeds of humanity. We stem from and are dependant on single cells, those which have enabled us to become the diverse creatures we are today.

Thank you for the opportunity and the enrichment.