Shaping Language
Andrea Sara Gallo

Jury Statement

Visual communication originated with the footprints and traces that our ancestors learned to read to better understand geological events and natural processes. Interestingly, we find two types of footprints: static impressions left behind on a surface, and the hand traces of movements that record processes as images. The former are the roots of cuneiform stamps or printing letters, while the latter evolved into different types of notations, such as drawing and handwriting.

Both principles of recording–the typed footprint and the moving traces of handwriting—have led Andrea Sara Gallo to her project, “Shaping Language.” The Swiss graphic designer uses digital methods to record and interpret the motion traces when one writes on a touch-screen keyboard. The traditional typing and hammering of the fingers is transformed into a continuous, vectorial movement, resulting in a flowing choreography with its linear notation. Letter sequences of words become line figures with their own aesthetics and surprising visual quality—a new form of digital handwriting, an enchanting stenography of dancing fingers.

In Gallo’s system, a specific picture is formed with each new word. It is not limited to 45 characters—however, the number 45 is brightly incorporated throughout her project. “Shaping Language” is a sublime example of the exploration of printed language and the search for wondrous new forms of writing; in the process, Gallo celebrates the beauty of the human body and its motion.

Artist Statement

For years we have written with pens, creating shapes on paper thanks to the movements of our hands. Today, in the 21st century, with the importance of computers and, virtual keyboards on our phones, the movement of the hand and “writing” are moving more and more to the background. It is not difficult to imagine that the future of writing will no longer be dictated by pen and movement on paper, but rather by fingers and movements on a screen, on keyboards. We all write, everyday. We write messages, posts on social media, emails. We write notes and so on. Without even granting the keyboard a glance, we can find the letter for which we search. Technology is now part of us and we have to accept it, just as we have to accept keyboards. My project intends to decode text into images, while capturing the beauty of both the human body and its motion.

Andrea Sara Gallo

Andrea Sara Gallo is a 22-year-old visual communicator based in Lugano, Switzerland, currently studying at the Basel School of Design. She is attracted to different yet complementary disciplines, both analog and digital, but her projects often focus on photography and editorial design. Gallo is driven by curiosity, which is the basis of her ideas and inspiration.


The swype keyboard (video explaining mechanics:

Swype gestures creating a sentence.