Between Languages.

Where does the words disappears?


Exhibition and work-shop paper.  

for Cumulus Hong Kong 2016.




From In Between an educational project developed from my artistic research project I

established assisted by Camille Rogen and Sasi Zill June 2016, Form laboratory for

art-oriented design with a focus on empathy.

Important elements of methods are philosophy, values and the transformation process.

Empathy is between people, empathy in design is for living. Laboratory for Form

process is in this context a place of artistic research and teaching, development of

methods and to establish relevant academic quality as part of the education program.
Important elements of methods are philosophy, values and transformation process.


It is important to develop a methodology that gives proximity qualities to the dimension

of your form. Design method entails value grading of the idea's quality standard in the different dimensions from which the idea is transformed. 

With this the question is asked; how can we experience empathy transformed into the different dimensions of design?


Inspiration comes from the philosophy of proximity described by Levinas 1972 in his book titled "Humanism de làutre home". About presence as basic, and not to "circulate" around in itself.
Emanuel Levinas writes about meeting between people, not about the individual, but about this "something" in the other's "face". This something (idea) is what exists before it becomes transformed and accessible to others. The other exists when the idea is transformed and from the way it exists reflected back by the other. 

In these projects, In Between and Between language it is to ask how we can make design tools that enable us to that reflect personal interpretation that means the design is made of trace of the design? How can visual language play an important role in creating dialogue?

"It is the essence of compassion, and it is the beginning of morality." Written by Ian McEwan, 2001.


The first project derived from InBetween education program has the title: Between Language, aiming to present and exhibit design installation and work-shop at Cumulus conference in Hong Kong November 2016.



It entails a physical experience argumentation to give feedback for theoretic research part of In Between.

  • Shared dimension, shared reality? 
  • Analog and local, digital and global form.  

It’s a design where to experience the same standard (reality) depended of the dimensions of the form, which is presented. In the installation Between language the double shadow of folk creates the common shadow of that English text can be read. When blacking out chaos text, the English text readable. This request assistance or negotiate between people to getting their shadows designed to visual and readable sign.


In specific, the abstract dimension (0D) creates a different impact in comparison to writing about empathies. The written character is communicative to many, but not necessarily the most empathetic. In this context, with this installation and with that resentment, I ask if it is this that distinguishes design and art from other academic subjects? Does design and art demonstrate the importance of no fixed boundary between mind and environment?


Title: From 2D to many Dimensions. Photo Charles Michalsen. 

A hot day in Tiananmen square September 2013. People sitting in the shadow of the Monument to People's Heroes. In 1949 the idea of building a monument in Beijing, capital of China, two commemorate the people's heroes in modern Chinese Communism history was establish.


Still image from movie Between Language exhibition Cumulus Hong Kong. When two shadows overlap change text chaos in double shadow is a loop with fully readable English text. Photo and drawing Charles Michalsen

Test in FormLab at KHiB . Photo Charles Michalsen.


From exhibition in Hong Kong . Photo Charles Michalsen

Still image from movie Between Language exhibition Cumulus Hong Kong. When two shadows overlap change text chaos in double shadow is a loop with fully readable English text. Photo  Charles Michalsen

A Thesis can be empathetic to some, for example a group. And it may be an assumed common idea that should be interpreted locally and between people. But empathy is not central value, but a direction you will acquire and follow-up. Some will not experience it as particularly empathetic because their communication culture and social codes have other values for empathy.


To fully incorporate empathy in design and art, one must be honest with empathy in ideology and not as an idea of empathy. When transformation empathy into the visual expression a good platform will be provided for this purpose. 


Languages can be shaped and contribute more or less to empathy. In Norway, when oil production and the oil industry came, it also brought a crowded English term into Norwegian language. Statistics we know that later /eventually there were more Norwegian oil-related words that replaced the English. It showed that the language of the profession was first linked to competence, but over time humanized. Now there is a higher level of competence in the Norwegian oil industry and the language of the language is clearly and measurably corrupted (Anne - Line Graedler UiO Sprogknytt 3-4 / 2002). 


Both English and Norwegian became part of the language form, making it a more natural and contemporary language. The psychological form of language and the desire to be understood and understand, shapes the language over time. This was for success when the empathy followed into the design of communication element.

Open Design for E-very-thing. 

November 21 – 24, 2016 Hong Kong, China
Hosted by the Hong Kong Design Institute


Cumulus Hong Kong 2016 seeks to explore the openness of design, namely the opening up of design process and design for openness. 


Design for Democracy.


The spring before the Cumulus conference when the web page was established was the headline: Design for Democracy. After a few weeks the web page was closed and when it opened it had a new headline: Open Design for E-very-thing.

We know what we read when we see the two different headlines for the Cumulus conference in Hong Kong, but what do we want to understand? 

One of Emmanuel Levina's problems in his book The Other Humanism. Is not the other, but the third, which is also a week and unanswered question in his discussion of empathy? 

Who is first, second and third person when we look at Cumulus Hong Kong. mainland China - Beijing regime, Hong Kong people and those outside China Hong Kong? 

- For two years ago the leader of a democratic movement in Hong Kong. Today, the situation is completely different. In five years there will be more pluralities for this among the Hong Kong inhabitants, Chan Ho-tin wins The Guardian. China Ho-tin is the spokesman for the democratization movement and pronounced this to The Guardian in August 2016. 

Who is the third in this context?

The language for the Cumulus conference in Hong Kong is English and all communication with the conference is in English. The official local language is Cantonese and the official state language is Mandarin.

The three languages are written and set in loop and projected on the wall (Figures 4, 5 and 6). What we first see is chaos and disorientation of the animated text, but as you move into the room your shadow change the chaos. If two shadows overlap, we can read only the English text (Figure 3). In the design idea it is structured, you must contact and negotiate with another so that both shadows overlap. It must be established empathy between people, in this case coordinate movement, and one can see what is in the shade and a common discovery established. 



  • Shared dimension, shared reality?


Empathy and globalization is a challenging circumstance, moving something (idea) from analogue and local to E - digital global context where the other is more or less "without face". Levinas writes about I and the other that in the meeting both are irreplaceable and in this the responsibility is reported.
Understanding Hong Kong today is an ongoing and complex task. Designing with emphasis on the idea of empathy challenges transparency, getting a "ping pong" dialogue with people in the Hong Kong environment. The human being within the Hong Kong environment influences the design differently and clearly, regardless of backgrounds, and design can be developed between people, through empathy in the visual space.  



CPC the Communist Party of China Encyclopaedia official web page
Site Search: Empathy. SEARCH RESULTS Total 3.
Roughly calculated CPC website has 400 000 words and word empathy is used 3 times.



  • Levinas, E. 1972. Humanism of the Other. Oslo: Det Norske Akademi for sprog og litterateur. 
  • Anne – Line Graedler UiO Språknytt 3-4 / 2002
  • CPC the Communist Party of China Encyclopaedia official web page.

Sources for research and inspiration: 


  1. CPC the Communist Party of China Encyclopedia official web page
    Site Search : Empathy. SEARCH RESULTS Total 3.
    Roughly calculated CPC website has 400 000 words and word empathy is used 3 times. Content in the text loop projection in the art installation was from the context. 


  1. Name and information about Hong Kong bookshop owners who disappeared in autumn 2015


  • Lui Bo, general manager, goes missing in Shenzhen, 15 October , 2015
  • Cheung Jiping, business manager, 32, goes missing in Dongguan, 15 October 2015
  • Gui Minhai, co-owner, 51, goes missing in Thailand, 17 October 2015
  • Lam Wingkei, manager, 60, last seen in Hong Kong, 23 October 2015
  • Lee Bo, shareholder, 65, goes missing in Hong Kong, 30 December 2015


In their bookstores, they had a category as “hot.” People could put books that were either pressed before Hong Kong became part of mainland China or books now prohibited in Hong Kong China.


  1. Forbidden books in Hong Kong
  • Xi Jinping and The House of Cards author Yu Jie
  • Tianjin Nuclear Explosion
  • The Ending China Miracle
  • The Secret Emotional Life of Zhou Enlai
  • Old Jiang Enrages Xi Dada
  • October Huge Change
  • China’s Godfather, Xi Jinping