Minjun Chen

More Than Meets the Ear


More Than Meets the Ear


More Than Meets the Ear (言外之意) emphasizes issues around the translation of Chinese into English, and addresses how this tension affects identity, as we increasingly promote cultural diversity within a globalization context. 

Typography Installation | Independent Project | 1 month


01 Branding the Contemporary Fringe 


My interpretation of the contemporary fringe is linguistic, cultural, social, human, changeful & individual.

What is in a name? Chinese names always contain two components: surnames and given names. Surnames first appeared in ancient China, and laster evolved into  family names, which passed from father to children. However, Chinese given names are always made up of one or two characters and are written after the surname. More importantly, they represent meanings and stories of individual, families, society, and the whole country. From my personal experience, the meaning of my Chinese name went missing when translated into the English alphabet. Even though English alphabet can somehow replicate pronunciation of Chinese characters, it is less likely to convey the specific concept or meaning through it. Chinese names can speak of domesticity, identity, memory, and also indicate the soci-cultural changes. Names created by individuals can be regarded as personal symbols, and reflect individual’s identity and characteristic to some extent.


02 Ideation

Inspired by Xubing’s Shen Wai Shen and Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s Death by Gun, I wish my work to be disseminated and to be realized completely through the participation of the viewer.

I designed the form of the removable sheet of paper, like a stack of sticky notes, as the medium to display the Chinese name as well as its meaning on each side. Stacks of sheets, which is continually replenished, serves as give-aways to visitors. In the exhibtion, viewers are encouraged to tear off the paper and discover different possibilities of stories behind these hand-written Chinese names.


03 Exhibition Design

Visitors can remove sheets of paper from these pads on the pedestals, and flip over those paper mounted on the wall.

I planned to mount these pads on the wall in the gallery, but they failed to stay on the wall after a few minutes. So I decided to hang two hundred sheets of paper to show one hundred different Chinese names and meanings on the wall. And a variety of pads consisting of one hundred sheets of paper are displayed on the pedestals.


04 Final Exhibition