LANGUAGES MATTER! A UNESCO poster competition

Competition Details

Cultural Fingerprint

by Grayhound

In working on this poster, “Languages matter/Les langues, ça compte!”, I have been thinking about how the preserving of languages with technology relates to cultures. The challenge was then to represent these relationships visually.

This idea developed into how language is necessary and essential as a primary cultural fingerprint. The question then becomes how to preserve the “fingerprint”. Through technology the preservation process has been accelerated but at the same time there is the irony that technology can also rapidly destroy a culture by homogenizing it with other cultures. To paraphrase the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, it’s a conflict in which cultures have little choice but to participate in order to to express their creativity, insure their social inclusion and economic development, and to preserve themselves and contribute to the rest of the world through their indigenous knowledge.

In creating my poster, I decided to build my imagery based on Mr. Matsuura’s quote. As I developed the theme it became clear that I needed to highlight the quote by adapting it as the headline of the poster.

The base level of imagery I used is somewhat abstracted forms of fingerprints and handprints, which refers to language as a primary cultural fingerprint. Then I wanted to show the underlying relationship of the humanity with technology. The representation of technology’s role is shown by the combination of color streaks taken from the magnified look of a computer harddrive, as well as an underlay of the graphics of the sound waves. In the detail image that is attached, it also shows how small phrases of “Languages matter!” in several languages are overlayed on the other graphics, symbolizing that technology carries cultural content ­— in this particular case, language.

The graphic treatment of the headline influenced some elements of the style of the event information at the bottom of the poster. I have attempted to make the typography use there clear but unobtrusive to the content above it.

Overall, I have layered information onto my poster and have tried to communicate to the viewers at various levels as well as viewing distances.

Thank you.