“Framed Character,” a book about Chinese writing authored by Arnold Au and illustrated by Fanky Chak, is an attempt to develop a deeper understanding of the words and writings of the Chinese language.
The book connects the meaning of words from the Chinese culture to the symbolic representations of the English culture. What is of significant interest to the College of community is that Fanky Chak, who created the symbolic illustrations, is a professor of graphic design at the College.
“Framed Character” uses his illustrations and photographs to embed within us an understanding of the broader conceptions of Chinese writing.
Chak designed his book in an effort to go back and examine Chinese writing and how it has shaped his thought processes. “Going back and looking at my own writing, I saw that there are a lot of stereotypical hidden messages behind the words,” he said.
Chak further elaborates that this book gives him the opportunity to interpret what he thinks the hidden messages behind the words are. In “Framed Character,” Chak uses photography as a way to express his own personal analysis of the hidden messages.
Chak said that he makes sarcastic statements about Chinese culture. He believes that the status between societies has changed and that Chinese society and thinking is outdated.
Chak wants the readers of “Framed Character” to be able to start thinking about the topic. “I want my audience to begin thinking about the message of the book and to understand my experiences.”
Chak and collaborator Au, with the help of the Hong Kong Development Council, finished the book in a year and half. “Framed Character” has won two design awards from the Art Directors Club of N.J.
The categories were Best Book and Best Book Cover Design. In addition to these honors they have won two awards from the University and Design Association for Best Research Publication and Best Use of Photography.
Chak believes that this book is like any other piece of art expression. His ultimate hope is that the reader will develop a better understanding of the Chinese language. Like most artists he wants his viewpoint to be understood. “I hope they will agree and take something from it,” he said.