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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

RegionIvory Coast
Native speakers
500,000 (2012)[1]
  • Mande
    • Eastern Mande
      • Southeastern
        • Mano–Dan
          • Guro–Tura
            • Guro–Yaure
              • Guro
Language codes
ISO 639-3goa

Guro (Gouro), also known as Kweni (Kwéndré) and Lo, is a Mande language spoken by approximately a million people in Ivory Coast, primarily in the areas of Haut-Sassandra and Marahoue, and the Goh.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ TEDxKyiv - Roman Guro - Language of Visual Images
  • ✪ Guro Traditional Marriage - Mariage Traditionel Gouro
  • ✪ Zamble by Guro dancers


Hello. My speech is about the language of visual images. Overall, I'm an artist, engaged in traditional and digital painting. And what I was faced with most often for the last 10 years was creation of figures, some fictional characters, in some extraordinary worlds, and this is the main theme of my speech: how to create those uncommon things. Also we'll talk a little about abstraction of reality, about emotional in art and tie that all together. But I'd prefer, that it didn't look solely as a lecture of an artist for the artists, because the topic of art is much broader. And it's present in various spheres of life, and work with images as well. I'll try to illustrate that. So, a figure is not just a product of work with pictures. And I suggest that you, when listening to this, try to translate all that into your professional area, and maybe you'll figure out out how to apply that to, say, work with people or simply with ideas. For I permanently find such connections. Let's start with the work process. This is a artwork called «She, who knits her canvas of life». The concept here is rather simple. That's the canvas of life, indeed, and the patterns, that are to appear just now are the events of her life, and the more you go, the firmer they become, but you can't go back and change something - - for that you'll have to tear down the whole canvas. And also there's the shadow, the shadow of an old woman - that's the shadow of time. This is how the shadow of time is always following us, but we don't always keep that in mind. But all those are meanings, while the emotion and energy a work can deliver - - are much more in the realm of art. Basically — art is working with emotions. And it's not simply a possibility to create some emotion and bestow it, but an interchange, certain kind of a conversation. And what's the difference, say, from speaking with words? They convey meaning very well, just the facts, but they very poorly convey feelings, emotions, because words can only arouse those feelings, that a person has already experienced. If one has never been in love, the word «love» for her - even if she understands the meaning, knows all stories, attached to it - still she can't feel it for real. On the contrary art acts directly, i.e. if words speak to our existing experience, art can give a new one. It can show what you've never seen, go straight to feelings and work directly with emotions. And this interaction - is a specific language of images, that's not just between the Creator and Beholder, but more often, than: the Creator and Creator. And this is what I want to point out further. But let's start from the beginning. From our perception. Everyone of us perceives this world and processes it somehow. And the world is wildly detailed. There's a plethora of details and it's impossible to perceive and understand everything. That's why there's this astonishing feature of man: from all this diversity to choose something most important and group by similarities. Something, that is not the same, but similar. And thus form images. And quite little is needed for man to recognize the image and understand the emotion in it. Like in these sketches, the sketches of people, that I've done in metro. There's not so much drawn here, some accents. But it's enough to understand emotion, character and some movement. And all that can be divided into two stages: cognition and recognition. Cognition is absorption of everything, recognition — it's when we recognize some moments, some key accents, human can't see everything at once, he looks from point to point and recognizes the image. And once we recognize it, we fill out the rest from own experience, prior visual experience. So it's much simpler for us to use own experience, than to really contemplate reality. Sometimes it plays nasty jokes to us. Like in this card trick, where there are black hearts and red spades. Unlike reality, where we're used to non-existence of such cards. And when a person is briefly shown such cards and asked to name the suit, he is mistaken. Because he actually isn't examining: as soon as he recognizes the image, he pulls it from memory. Thus it's such a situation, in which images hamper our perception of information. But that's not always so. And before we move to construction of our images, there's another important detail for fantasy. An impetus so to say. Often the main problem for fantasy is that a person sits empty-headed and can't imagine anything. Like if you ask someone: "Tell something interesting", many people will get at a loss, because they don't know about what to tell exactly. But if you're told: "Devise a story about a soldier, who returns from service, comes home to wife and there..." And there many will have tens of variants of how to develop the story. I.e. developing the story is much easier, than creating it from nothing. We all know about associative thinking, the big role it plays in our world. And that chain of associations is needed for us, some impetus is needed, some beginning to the story, to be able to develop the image. And the role of such impetus can serve images from real world. We don't have any other yet. Everybody has his own. As you understand we all construct figures to some extent. Everyone is really a creator, because we see only some moments and fill in the gaps, that we don't see, from our own experience, actually it's possible to fill in those gaps not only with the experience of that same image, but to add something different. But! Here you see examples from mythology, classical works. When we fuse real images, there's a drawback: we recognize them too easily. This is, so to say, a straightforward combination. As we see a Minotaur, at once we understand, that it's a body of man and a head of bull. We see centaur and understand: it's horse's croup plus human. We recognize those images and it's not completely new reality, because still it's easily recognizable, it's clear from which parts it consists. And we can plug in our knowledge, and it will interfere: understanding, what's going on there inside the centaur, what's up with his anatomy and that all that doesn't work out. So in which way to combine images, that they would create something new and unique? Let's look at our reality. This is just a photo, a portrait. It's quite real, recognizable, and you need some time to study it. It you know him, you'll recognize him. And now we'll simplify that a bit. To this cursory drawing. What has changed? In fact, many details are gone. And at this stage what does the artist do: he singles out the most important. Ignores something, outlines something. In essence he performs the same process, that a human mind does, when it studies the image. He groups, he outlines the most important. In fact an artist often does just that. The concentration of beauty in this world is so huge, that it blends into a gray mass, and some don't see just what should be outlined. And he sees that, singles it out, generalizes all the rest and that's the only thing he does at times. But let's generalize more. What else changes? Apart form grouping, some details are gone, no need to spend time understanding, what's this, what's the emotion here. The image remains, the person is recognizable, his emotion is recognizable, but many details are gone and he can be read fast. Now it's very easy and fast to read him. And this is used, used in cartoons, comics, and in realistic painting, when dynamics is needed, to make the eye, which travels around the piece - - and this journey of an eye across the piece - it's the intercourse with the spectator, it's the whole process - and so when it travels around the dynamic piece, the eye shouldn't stumble, but there, where the eye needs to stop, it's good to give some detail. So this is used. Budeo Mixing Renderer9(Renderl What changes? What changes is that he actually no longer resembles so much that old man from the start. He becomes more universal. And if he was simplified even more - but we won't do that - it would not be clear at all, whether that's man or woman. I.e. it becomes universal, an agile image. And the feelings he carries, they are easier to sympathize with, easier to emphasize with, because this image can be essentially you and me as well. When someone watches, it's easier to associate it with herself. There's also another way of working with an image - stylization. If all mentioned before was generalization, removing all excess, and per se outlining the focus of an image, what's most important in it, then here it's accenting of focus, i.e. we exaggerate, we single out, so that our focus became clear, precise and intelligible. It's kind of hypertrofication, so that our main aims don't stray, but still staying in the same rather generalized image. So now, when we've generalized it, simplified and accented, now we can... Here we went first from complicated to simple, and now we can complicate it, but since it has become more agile and universal, in principal, we can complicate it in any direction, just keeping in mind the focus. And here he's gone in quite a different direction, yeah? can be complicated here rather far, virtually up to a realistic piece, and it would not be that old man, it would be a new image. And this is the basis of work with images. There's focus, i.e. generalization, and simplification, and outlining the main. There's accenting and stylization. And there's essentially development of an image in some direction, its complication from this state. Now let's combine things, not combinable in in the first place. That was on my training, really random pictures and what they turned out into. How do we do that? It's clear, that we don't blend a dolphin with bananas, it would have being top straightforward. But we stylize and outline something, up to form and lines, the lower you go, the more agile the form becomes, the more universal the image. And here it has turned into some cosmic helmet, but actually a lot of images can be generated, various ones. It's linked to a dolphin by form somehow, but it's clear, that that's not a dolphin. And a bunch of bananas turned into a respirator and in general have introduced that ordering, that we encounter in this product. Another example. You've got to understand, that we don't combine bear and bread. It's not a straightforward work. We can use anything we like, it's an impetus for us, the beginning of our story, just an impetus. And what has turned out here? Here we've exaggerated it, it's apparent, that the emotion there is out-blown, previously we’ve just generalized it, and here we've exaggerated. And this is what has turned out - some mythical helmet, bread has turned into guards and even the cutting has remained. And another image has appeared: of a specific dagger. It can be seen, that the blade is in fact nothing else, but a stylized image of a bear. You see, just it, altogether, but much more stylized and generalized. And bread has become a knuckle. Such images are born by associative thinking quite randomly. Just inventing such form is much more difficult, than departing from something. Though eventually man develops experience and starts sorting out associations without using any pictures. This is another way: from a spot. It can be performed in reality, in digital painting it's such a brush, that randomly changes size, rotates, there appear those spots, utterly unpredictable. In reality you can water a rag in paint and put it down on canvas and something will appear there. And here once again this is used as an impetus, no fear to change anything, and some images appear. This is also a good training of fantasy, because there already are some bounds, and you've got to follow them. So you have to search in some given direction. And the task can be complicated a bit. Like to find several images in one spot or to set the problem of finding something particular. There was a task of finding human in here. And he was found from kind of extraordinary angle. And now let's go down even further. So to say, raise to the tops of Kasimir Malevich and Vassily Kandinsky, who introduced the concept of abstract in art. What is abstraction? In contrast to stylization and generalization, where it's actually present as well, pure abstraction is departure from meanings of an image to pure emotion. So only emotion remains. And how does it work? Here you see two pictures, my concept characters. And its evident, that the right picture is rather predatory, and the character to the left is quite nice and fluffy. It's clear, that shapes and colors, that are used, are linked to the visual experience, that we posses. Not only visual: it's clear, that you can't kill with cushion, while its easy to cut oneself with a knife. All that is our experience. And just because humans compose their reality from trifles and perceive the image by some accents, here we also see some directions, see key shapes, for example, and understand aggression. All that can work on much simpler forms, that are also present here. And here is our old man, he's just changed, the old man here is totally invisible, but there was such emotion there, such grin, and yellow has the property of giving and the circle also has such dynamics from inside, so that's such an emotion, and it has a certain chill, because there he didn't smile quite sincerely. But let's look at a more complicated piece. Let's call it "Attack on a white ball". You can see, that there's not much sense here, images are plainly not recognizable, but it works. Works both on emotional level, and the dynamics works, directions work. Triangles are very directed, aggressive and sharp, a clear direction is read in them, the combination of red and black is rather agressive, on the contrary quite deep blue, the ball itself is a shape, that barely moves, but well sucks in and gives back, and blue here will suck, it's a deep color, while yellow will give. And green accents play the role of a certain contrast, that make red even brighter. This is how it all works, and it works in more complicated pieces also. This is Gustav Klimt and his abstract interpretation, although it is already generalized enough, and here all the things, we've listed, apply. There's stylization here - obviously, people can't even bend like that — there's abstraction, there's generalization, and, what's most important, is the concentration of emotion. Instead of contemplating reality the artist gives us concentration. He controls eye movement, provides direction, and thus emotion appears in clear form, concentrated. And this is my artwork "Zombie-boxes" on the topic of our good television. The basis of the concept is TVs, that carry us to a certain abyss. And these hands are like zombie hands, drawing there quite a few people. It's also worth mentioning directions. As we all read left-to-right, we are used to that, and also are in some time interval, this direction in a piece will be read by us as future, and right-to-left - as past. And it's no surprise, that down is a negative direction and up - positive. And it turns out, that they don't just rush somewhere, but rush into the past and negative. And past and present can be read also more agile depending on meaning, that we've put in the piece. We string on abstract things, on those same triangles, that are discernible here, some meanings, give that some sense, and it can be read both as internal and external, or like here, where negative and past is a certain symbol of degradation. Also connected in some way. And this is the example, where this abstract geometry can be not only rigid, direct and geometrical, but also much more plastic, so that all this can be bent and synchronized. These are just photos from space and as you can see, that nature is not chaotic, synchronized and harmonic, so that it's much more agile, and we are used to placing everything in rows. And here is another example in my work just with dynamic guides. You see the work process: first there's a search for the color solution. But while this proceeds I'd like to sum up a bit. Maybe after this talk someone will look differently at an abstract painting, someone will see abstract in a rather realistic painting. Someone maybe translates this knowledge into a wholly different sphere and will find out how to work with similar things. Because actually there's a lot of knowledge there, there's a space to dig, there's subjective and objective. So it's possible to apply it in other areas. It's apparent, how fast everything is changing, how fast art is changing, and now contemporary art is gradually putting itself in order. And it's following technologies, some aesthetics appears, the value of aesthetics appears, it all becomes very accessible. It wasn't possible before to create so rapidly, now everyone with a camera-phone can make his mold of reality and start to create art. It's so easy to participate in projects, that involve 500 people from different countries and they all do common work. So there's such harmonization. And I think, that if we peep a little further into the future and dream up, it's quite possible, that in the near future art, at least its larger part, can transform into a full-fledged language, that will go hand in hand with the language of meanings, yet on the emotional level. And maybe it will lift us to the new level of mutual understanding. And we'll see the integral piece. And in conclusion I'd like to show how simple can be our reality. It's an amazing feature of man, who sees in this a human face. How little is needed for man to see face and besides it's even smiling, so we see emotions, we sympathize wit them. And it can be even simpler. And these are first steps to making our language of meanings more conscious and bring it up to the level of emotions and images. Thanks!


  1. ^ Guro at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Guro". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

This page was last edited on 27 April 2019, at 22:19
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