Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Reading Response: Design Writing Research

In the 1920s Otto Neurath wanted to develop a set of pictograms that made up universally recognizable forms in his Isotype system. Later, the American Institute of Graphic Arts and Cook & Shanosky Associates expanded on this by creating the male and female icon set (commonly seen in reference to a public restroom) and they were added to the international hieroglyphics of public information by the D.O.T. With his theory of logical positivism, Neurath explores rationalism and empiricism and created a system that translated a philosophical property into a visual one. Stylistically, Neurath created a system of reduction and consistency. He wanted this system to actually take the place of writing. Much like writing however, icons like these have to be culturally learned and are not universal.

Expanding on the historical creation of pictograms (icons), the reading discussed the creation of the Chinese and Japanese languages. In this, I am reminded of the figurative and literal interpretations an icon can give the viewer, as well the conflict that can arise from each as they relate to elements of that icon.

Relating this to my current point in the creation of my icon set, I have selected a few icons that don't retain the consistency they should have to remain in the group. These specific ones are in the process of correction. Within the actual icon, the shadow form adds a nice aesthetic, but the icon itself should create a more interesting (and maybe even recognizable) form by reducing the amount of detail. This will enable the viewer to actually understand the icon when it is reduced.

As I consider how many pictograms (icons) I see and use every day, it is really amazing. These references are helpful as I improve my set in the area of both reduction and consistency and also changes my approach to viewing or using an icon.

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