Charadiumistic Contemplations

Charadium is an app/game that is a lot like an online-multiplayer pictionary that I am currently obsessed with.


There are two types of way to play.

1. You are in a chat room with other people and everyone takes turns drawing and guessing what the person drew. The goal is to draw your word as quickly as possible and for everyone to guess it as quickly as possible. After a few seconds it will start to give you letters. You get points for guessing the correct word as fast as you can. Both when you are guessing and how fast someone can guess what you drew.

2. Ping-pong games: You get 10minutes to draw your word and after you push "finish" what you drew gets sent to another player. It is then re-drawn exactly how you drew it but its sped up. So what took you 10min to draw is re-drawn for them in 10 seconds or so. The goal is basically the same but you are free'd up from trying to draw as quickly as you can - which makes for a lot more complex sketches.

This game is fascinating because it's helped me to understand how people think and perceive different things. Some words are easy: Cube, Bed, Cat, Apple, tornado, etc. Other words are a LOT more complicated: Origin, Evolution, Turbulence, Warrior, Behavior etc.

It shows how similar and how differently people think. It also demonstrates the varying levels of people's artistic skills and their perceptive strength. There is definitely a learning curve to drawing something with a finger on an ipad. There is also a learning curve to be able to understand what someone else is drawing.

The interesting thing about Charadium is that the main goal is to communicate something with an image alone - without words. This is the basis for symbolism and "pictograms" which is essentially how writing originated. It reminds me a lot of Egyptian hyrogliphs and how different people throughout history have struggled with the same problem: How do I communicate this message/ idea/ meaning without using a spoken language? Before we had the "written word" which evolved from "pictograms" Each letter in our alphabet had it's origins in symbolism. A B C D E. M - Mountains, Mound, Milk. M-ountain could have stemmed from the letter M looking like Mountains MMMMM. M-ound-ain. Our letters are essentially deconstructed symbols and sounds and pictograms from thousands of years and thousands of different languages.

Onomatopoeia: is a word that sounds like what the word is. Bzzz, mmmm, bang! This is probably how a lot of the basic words started. Ffffffire. Mmmmama, Mmmmilk Owwww. etc.

It can get really complicated when we get into phonics. Some symbols aren't suppose to represent themselves but the sound they make. Does a image of an eye mean: I, Eye, see, or Vision? Or does it have some kind of special meaning that is unique to the person drawing it or even exclusively to the time it was written in?

For instance one of the words was "Transformer" and I drew Optimism Prime. "Powers" and I drew different x-men using their "powers." If someone didn't know about either Transformers or the X-men - they would have absolutely NO clue what I meant. If the word was "Super Hero" someone from thousands of years ago might have drawn "Hercules."

How do you recognize and differentiate Zeus from Hercules? Or Superman from Batman? - They have different symbols associated with them. Zeus would be drawn with a Lightening bolt and a white toga. Hercules with a Lion Skin. Superman with a red and blue suit with an S on his chest. This is about the only way we can tell the difference between them. You start out with a basic body - and then it's what you add to it that makes it one person over another. If you drew a really big and muscular guy - how could you tell if it's "Strong" or "Wrestler" or "Hercules" or "Hulk" - that is where color comes in: If you drew him green - people would know it's suppose to represent "The Hulk" but again, only if they knew who Hulk was. How would you know the difference between Hulk & The Jolly Green Giant? It's all in the details!

It has been especially useful with my work on my book and understanding symbolism in art - specifically Leonardo's drawings and paintings. What is the meaning? What do the symbols mean? What do the colors represent? Which characters is he trying to represent? If he is painting "Jesus" how do we differentiate him from - Peter or Simon or Judas? How did he, or we, know what Jesus really looked like? He never posted for any portraits and they didn't have photography back then. What they imagined him to look like hundreds of years ago is different than we do now. He wouldn't have had blond hair and blue eyes as you can see him shown in some Churches today. It's usually the cross that lets us know it's suppose to be "Jesus" more than the actual facial features. This shows how the "image" or symbol of something or someone changes. It also shows how some symbols - which I would call "universal symbolism" hasn't and really can't change. 1 one (.) and 2 two (..) This is why we see certain symbols consistently through history.

Anyways! It's one of those things that's most easy to understand by experiencing it yourself. Here are some of my latest Charadiums! Can you guess what the words are? (Answers at the end of post) Then try to imagine how you would draw something to express the same words.

@derekbair | |
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