Book: “Otto Neurath, the Language of the Global Polis”

November 18, 2009 § Leave a comment

Otto Neurath, designer and sociologist, made beautiful pictograms that invoked the data he displayed. If his units represented unemployed people, they might take the form of hunched, depressed silhouettes, hands in pockets. Days of travel across the ocean might be expressed as jagged ocean waves.

We often forget that information graphics need not be cold and clinical.  The book “Otto Neurath: The Language of the Global Polis” serves as a tonic to that tendency.

The blurb for the book: “Austrian sociologist Otto Neurath was a seminal Modernist figure. Much attention has been given to his achievements in the fields of graphic design and philosophy (Neurath was a member of the Vienna Circle, founder of the Museum of Society and Economy, inventor of the ISOTYPE pictorial system and champion of the Unity of Science movement), yet his involvement with urbanism and architecture has been all but ignored. From 1931 onwards, Neurath collaborated with the International Congress of Modern Architecture and its chief exponents–Cornelis van Eesteren, Sigfried Giedion, Le Corbusier and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy–to develop an international language of urban planning and design. More experimentally, throughout the 1930s a fascination with visual media led to an attempt to franchise the Museum of Society and Economy by establishing international satellite museums. This volume contains a text by curator and writer Nader Vossoughian, which offers a fresh perspective on one of the most versatile intellectuals of the twentieth century.”

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