Cora McKenzie

Cora McKenzie is a Seattle-based graphic designer and researcher working at the intersection of communication design and science. She holds an MFA in graphic design from the Maryland Institute College of Art.

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Cora McKenzie
raphic Design + Research

Publication & Language Design
Jaykagâ is a planet and language created by myself, Calvin Hutcheon, and Greg Fisk. The language exists in both spoken and walked forms, the latter of which the feet and hands function as the primary tools of communication.

Visitors to Jaykagâ are given the travel pamphlet shown, which guides viewers through the culture and language of the planet.

The pamphlet folds out to an A1 poster with original Jaykagân poems, written in both walked and spoken Jaykagâ.

In the year 2300, Earth has been rendered uninhabitable from human impact—climate change is at its peak, pollution has clogged the air, and oceans burn to the touch from acidity. The survivors, the wealthiest who could afford the necessities of life, began migrating to other planets, including Jaykagâ. Exiled from their home planet, Jaykagâns are left to reconcile their actions by reflecting on past wrongdoing to ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated. Their future depends on it.

Jaykagâ Language

Always spoken in a whisper, the Jaykagâ language aims to prevent conflict and instill reverence. As a result, the range of sounds used in the spoken language has been greatly diminished, leaving only the vocalization that remain clear when uttered in hushed tones.

The walked language is recorded in the ground of the planet. Letters are formed from a combination of footprints and hand movements. Words are built in gridded patterns starting from the bottom left corner: three steps are taken before the writer reverses direction, resulting in a squared, syllabic construction. Jaykagâ sentence structure is Object, Verb, Subject. Together, language’s spoken and walked forms are the pinnacle of peace with the “new Earth.”

💥️ My favorite Jaykagân phrase: Tedybti, meaning “all’s dust” (loosely “doesn’t matter” or “don’t worry”)

Jaykagân Culture
The life of a Jaykagân is one of repentance. Long meditative walks encourage reflection and the contemplation of past mistakes. Both the language and the culture are oriented within this directive: do not repeat the errors of the ancestors. Stories are told by walking on a path, careful to leave the existing footprints undisturbed, or else a narrative risks being lost forever. Despite their meditative lifestyle, Jaykagâns prize the natural beauty of their rocky vistas and build structures to mimic the landscape.

Our group was tasked with creating a language for a culture in which conflict does not exist. To get the footprint texture for our language and poster, we traced (and even painted!) our feet. We started designing our language in a weekend workshop guided by Abe Burickson.