We almost wonder whether Yang Liu, a Beijing-born designer who has lived in Germany since 1990, was tripping when she put together these hip, riddle-like pictographs that abstractly convey behavioral differences between Westerners and Easterns; or more specifically, Germans and Chinese.
Relying on her experiences in Europe and China, Liu put together these clever designs that are a sort of Rorschach test for which region you identify with. We found ourselves staring and trying to figure out what they stood for, then nodding in agreement about one side or the other, but not always the side Liu expected us to identify with.
Of course, it’s never good to make gross generalizations about entire groups of people – we’re sure there are a lot of Germans who do sort of meander around what they really want to say hoping the listener will get the hint, and we have plenty of Chinese friends who actually do know how to line up properly. So, do take these with a grain of salt.
Most of these are pretty easy to figure out at a glance, but a few require some deeper thinking, so we’ll be putting the explanations for the photos after each one rather than before. Germany is represented on the left (in blue), while China is on the right (in red):
How they prefer to approach problems.
How they give opinions.
How they form lines.
How they see themselves.
How they feel about showing up on time.
Patterns for how they form human connections.
How they express their feelings.
What the street looks like on a Sunday (apparently).
What a party might look like from above.
Noise levels in a restaurant.
How they capture memories.
Ideals of beauty (with Germans preferring women with darker skin and Chinese putting fair-skinned women on a pedestal).
Temperatures of a typical day of meals.
How typical old folks like to spend their days.
How they feel about weather.
How the boss is treated.
The role of a child.
How people feel about triangles. (Just kidding, it’s how they feel about trendy consumer goods.)
How each group stereotypes the other.
That last one there could sort of be used as a commentary on the entire work! We commend Liu’s creativity even as we question the overall accuracy of many of these pictographs. And, as much as we’d like to discourage stereotyping, we’re curious to hear what you folks feel are some habits and character traits of people from your own cultures. Let us know in the comments!