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Can You Figure Out This Language Puzzle?

Artist Xu Bing's writing might look indecipherable at first glance, but take a second look.

Posted on November 27, 2017, at 4:14 p.m. ET

Artist Xu Bing has been a successful printmaker and sculptor for years, but he's especially known for his invention of an art form/visual puzzle hybrid called "Square Word Calligraphy."

Bing writes English words in the style of Chinese characters — seemingly indecipherable to Chinese and English speakers alike, but legible with a closer look.
Xu Bing / Penguin Young Readers

Bing writes English words in the style of Chinese characters — seemingly indecipherable to Chinese and English speakers alike, but legible with a closer look.

His new book, Look! What Do You See? pairs illustrations with lyrics to folksongs written in square word, and asks the reader to guess what those songs are.

Xu Bing / Penguin Young Readers

The book is technically for kids but, honestly, it took me longer than I'd like to admit to figure it out. Your turn:

1. What patriotic song is this?

Xu Bing / Penguin Young Readers

2. Which western classic is this?

Xu Bing / Penguin Young Readers

3. And here's one with a visual hint:

Xu Bing / Penguin Young Readers

For more information on Xu Bing and Look! What Do You See? click here.

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