Skip to main content
Ages 13+
Under 13

“Liquid Calligraphy”: The Beings That Emerge When Language Disappears


While drawing letters with ink over a wet surface, we are alluring entities destined to disappear.

We live in an era of typography—the digitalization of the ancient art of calligraphy. But amidst the millions of diverse ways of mimicking the written word and its dynamic flow, one of the most stimulating is that of Russian designer Ruslan Kharsanov.

To arrive at what he calls “Liquid Calligraphy,” Kharsanov relies on serendipity—that capricious entity that is sometimes at the service of aesthetics. He wanted to design a logo that would evoke an expansive sensation than that provided by the written word, a texture “as if a bottle of wine were at the bottom of the sea for centuries, the letters on the label flowing, forming patterns.” He tried to use ink on wet paper, but the results were disappointing. Then he drew a letter on the surface of a wet bathroom. “The letter,” he commented, “literally took on life—black lines grew, forming gray coral-like patterns, and then disappearing like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, and then dying.”

In other words, he discovered the treasure of liquid calligraphy, which he latter completed Photoshop and animation software. Kharsanov recreated a seminal process of life and death, of appearance and disappearance. In his liquid strokes, language is ever changing, always escaping one state for another, always oscillating between gurgling forms that could never exist in a material harder than water. While they’re disappearing, the alphabetic forms look more like cellular organisms or marine creatures such as squid and coral. The ink explodes into different shades of gray, evoking an ultrasound of a growing fetus. Except that in Kharsanov, the fleeting language is devoured by the dark, wet hole of silence.


Related Articles