Picture, the core element of visual art. It plays an important role in every field of visual communication design. As known to all, effective picture is not only image, but also message. This communication of image is even more effective than by words. Someone said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Yes, this is a good measure for evaluating a good picture within a communication. Usually, it called graphic language in area of design. Graphic language like word, it comes from creative ideas. It can be presented by all kinds of visual style. Even it is not a picture as we expected, but a broad stroke of colour, a word or something else that forms an image in the given work. Graphic language is one of the most important languages of communication in posters, books, packages, identity programmes and time-based multimedia. No matter how developed the media technology in the future, it would be a everlasting subject for research.Effective graphic language can reinforce the message or move the communication along. This is the reason of its existence and development.
The diversity of aesthetics between Chinese and Western
Many different characteristics existed in Chinese and Western poster graphic language. Obviously, the reason of difference are partly relevant to their respective traditional culture. It is meaningless to look on the phenomenon of art regardless its background culture. So firstly, we should understand the basic characteristics of Chinese and Western art in traditional position.
On Chinese aesthetics, the most notable characteristic is emphasizing a sense of underlying harmony, especially in Chinese painting. Taoism is one of the main religions in China, it offers to combine the opposites and balance each other. Chinese aesthetics was influenced deeply by Taoism. It was Taoist theory that things brought into contact with each other, or arranged together, influenced each other.(Philip Rawson, Loaszlo Legeza,1973) Its symbol Yin-Yang, composed by mutual black and white.
It means the physical world is whole of inseparable differences, every thing exists with every thing else. There exists no Yang without Yin in it, nor Yin without Yang.(Philip Rawson, Loaszlo Legeza,1973) The objects represented in a painting will have their proportions of Yang and Yin carefully combined and harmonized.(Philip Rawson, Loaszlo Legeza,1973) For example, mountain and water, heaven and earth, light and dark, dry and wet. In landscape, we can find these factors composed a spectacular and eternal harmonious world. As far as modern poster is concerned, communication is its&nb sp;core mission. Under the background of internationalization, for fulfilling its duty, Chinese poster designers studied a lot of notions and methods from Western design. However, Chinese modern poster was still influenced by Chinese traditional aesthetics in some extent. Many Chinese posters kept this aesthetics character of landscape in their images. Every factor comprises a twofold aspect visible-invisible. Namely Yang-Yin. As the famous saying: A Yin, a Yang this the Tao!
Different from Chinese philosophy of art, western artists often separate their consciousness (The Self) from their environment (The Natural World) in traditional paintings. They tried to seek true world in their art expression. We can find this reality in those masterpieces from Classicalism to Impressionism. As early as period of Revival of Learning, those celebrated art masters had reached a excellent level to control nature. They expressed the truth in their works by perfect skills of drawing, exact knowledge of anatomy and scientific theory of perspective. In 1860s, impre ssionist painters were fascinated by the relationship between light and colour. They painted free brushstrokes in pure pigment to express the reality of light and colour. Impressionism controlled the reality of art in this way. Compared with other eras, the 20th century was developed in a big way in art area with the progressing of technology. All kinds of art genre came into being. As a result, the art notion has also radically changed, it emphasized mentality and ideology of artists more and more rather than their ability of expressing the external world. In the field of modern design, the aim that bring art and design into the domain of daily life was offered by Bauhaus. Modern poster was demanded to convey message effectively and serve the society and people. Hence the art form has become more international. Both Chinese and Western artists have experimented with new visual language to express notions or convey message.
The different characteristics of contemporary graphic language in Chinese and Western posters
Poster designs deliver a message to the public through effective visual forms. With the trend of internationalization, there are still some differences existing in visual style of Chinese and Western posters for meeting different demands. Here follows a summary of some general characteristics below.
1.Harmonious and Contrastive
Comparing with western posters, Chinese posters have harmonious characteristic in their graphic language. It is not to say these posters have no contrasting factors. Contrarily, Chinese poster designers regard contrast very much, but they emphasize balancing the opposite things and reaching final holistic harmony. Chinese poster graphics are influenced by traditional aesthetics more or less. For example, in Taoism, Yin, Yang live together as a whole in Taoism, Zhong Yong (Middle of the Road) of Confucianism and so on. These factors influenced Chinese posters today. Many posters embodied this principle of Balancing Reciprocity. Alan Chan and Peter Lo of Hong Kong ever designed a pair of poster about Chinese handwriting. The graphics is a inkstone in shape of the symbol of Tai Ji (Yin-Yang). Each poster has half. They showed words and landscape respectively. This pair of poster are compact, generous and harmonize the opposites.
Different from Chinese poster, Western poster graphic language takes on the characteristic of contrast generally. It mainly showed in aspects of colour, shape and layout. Basically, Western poster convey to people the sense of reality or embodiment. This is partly due to Western traditional aesthetics; on the other hand, the movements of modern art and design also made great effect on Western poster styles. Today we are in the information era, graphic designers have to catch the eye of audience by effective graphic languages as quickly as possible. As a contemporary poster designer, if he/she fails to attract audiences by his/her images in a few seconds, then the piece of communication may fail. Therefore, many designers pursue visual shock. A poster is generally put up in public place and seen over long distances. Obviously, intense contrast is one of the best methods to make poster more noticeable. For example, the poster of appealing to Switzerland to join the European Union. This poster expressed the subject accurately without redundant words. More than half of Swiss national flag is covered by the flag of Europea n Union. The two flags have same symbol---cross,they compare with each other and enforce the subject. Compact form and contrasting colours made this poster possess powerful visual appeal.
2.Pacific and dynamic
It was said that Chinese aesthetics emphasizes a sense of underlying harmony, and it made effect on Chinese poster graphic language. So, it is no wonder that Chinese poster is more pacific in its graphic language than Western. In Chinese aesthetics, dynamic and pacific elementse xist together in a art work. This underlying rule also accords with traditional Taoism. Generally, Chinese graphic designers seek dynamic elements from the reposeful surroundings, then harmonize