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Home X-Culture Stories X-Culture Photography Tradition and Symbolism

X-Culture Photography Tradition and Symbolism

July 8th, 2017, by

A true member of the X-Culture family poses for a photo with an “X”.
The “X” comes in a variety of forms, each with its hidden meaning and mythology.

Nobody knows how the “X” made its way into the X-Culture photos.

The first known X-Photo dates October 14, 2013. It is a class of Vilnius University students who took part in X-Culture in 2013-2b.
Nobody at the admin office recognized the deep meaning of the “X” symbol in the photo and it was lost in our archives. Until it was rediscovered a few years later after the “X” had become part of the X-Culture mythology and symbolism.

The First Known X-Photo, 2013-2b, Vilnius University, Lithuania


Moreover, another X-Photo dating back to April 24, 2014 was also discovered in our archives (shown further below in the X-Fist section).
Although it was taken a bit later, it is likely it was an independent X-idea, as the first photo was not published at that time.

So it remains unknown who the first author of the X-Photo was. It is entirely possible there were several.

Variations and meaning of the X-Photo

The X-Photos come in different forms. Here is the meaning of the most common types.


Type: Small x
Description: X made by crossing the pointing fingers of different hands.
We are at a serious conference, trying to look professional, or
the people have just met and do not feel comfortable yet to do crazy things together.
It typically takes a few hours for a group to go from Small x to Big X.
Small x is also often used when the photo is taken at a table and there is no room for Big X.

Small x

Small x at the table


Type: Big X
Description: X made by crossing forearms.
If on Day 1 of a serious conference: Old X-Culture friends who had done crazy stuff together before.
If on the evening of Day 1 or a later day: The group has already had a reception or cocktail party or had some off-program fun together and is now comfortable with Big X.

Big X

Big X among very close friends on the last day of the conference



Type: Fist X
Description: Same as Big X, but with fists
Meaning: Unknown
Please note, the photo below is the 2nd known X-Photo. It was shows a class of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, USA students from 2014-1b. Note the combination of Small X, Fist X, and X-Culture Rocks in this one photo.

The Second Known X-Culture Photo, 2014-1b, University of Arkansas at Little Rock


Type: High X
Description: X made above the head.
We’re doing something really exciting together and a Big X is not enough to express our happiness.
Also used in large-group photos where the X-Culture family members have to form rows. In this case, the family members in the top row may do a High X, while the lower row does a Big X.

High X, excited about the adventure (just climbed the world’s tallest building)

High X, excited about a party with good friends


Type: Low X
Description: X made below the elbow area.
Meaning: Unknown.

Low X, meaning unknown



Type: Lone Warrior X
Description: X-photo of a lone person.
Meaning: I may be far but I am part of the X-Culture family and you can count on me.

Lone Warrior X



Type: Lone Rebel X
Description: A single person in a large group with an X.
Meaning: I may be with them, but thinking about X-Culture.
Note: A Lone Rebel X can be dangerous if taken in a boring old-school group that does not respect large-scale collaboration and open data sharing. To do an “X” when nobody does requires extra courage and therefore is extra valuable.

Lone Rebel X


Type: X-Culture Rocks
Description: Big X with the “rock-n-roll” sign.
Meaning: The people likely just had a very exciting experience together and are getting ready for a gala dinner or big party. The highest form of expression of excitement and thrill.

X-Culture Rocks, after a very successful session


Type: X-Culture Victory
Description: Big X with the “peace” sign.
Meaning: Typically taken at celebratory ceremonies following a receipt of an award or a successful completion of a task.
Note: Sometimes this symbol is read as “X-Culture Peace”, but it is not quite clear what it means in this case.

Victory X


Type: In Love X
Description: A single X made by joining two pairs of feet.
Meaning: A couple in love or dating, brought together by X-Culture.
If faces not shown: Not quite ready to tell the world, but thank you X-Culture for bringing us together.

In Love X


Type: Best Friends Forever X
A group of friends place their feet in a way that their toes touch and their feet form an X.
In a classic form the group consists of 4 friends, but any number is acceptable. “Bringing cultures together” is what matters. The number of rays in the “X” is not.
Meaning: Best friends forever. The photo is usually taken on the last day of a conference or X-Culture Symposium, before leaving home. It’s a promise to stay in touch forever and come together soon.

Best Friends Forever X



Have you seen any other variations of the “X” in X-Culture Photos? What did it mean?

By Vas Taras

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  • Vasyl Taras

    Have you seen any other variations of the “X” in X-Culture Photos? What did it mean?