Author Archives: Nadav Barkan

For Christian – Raised image of temple for the blind (Bath)


Representations of war

Research Question

An analysis of the visual stereotypes and conventions that represent war, in order to visually reveal the context, broader narratives, similarities, and possibly the patterns of 20th and 21st century armed conflicts.

Aims and Objectives

The understanding of war among people who have not experienced war is now a product of representations from many sources: news, both on TV and in printed media, photography, film, art, video gaming, monuments and even fashion.

Visual discourse is hyper-saturated with repetitive imagery of ongoing-armed conflicts, some glorifying it and some strongly opposed to it, and it seems that armed conflict has come to be considered normal, often even trivialized as another product of everyday life.

My intention in this project is first to sift through the vast scale of visual sources and to conduct a comparison between them. I aim to uncover and create order in the numerous common visual narratives associated with war in different media

Secondly, after conducting research in this unit, I aim to deconstruct this visual discourse and reassemble it in a manner that will function as an informative tool for revisiting the visuals of conflicts that we take for granted.

Work plan / conclusions from peer group discussion

The initial stage is to create a comprehensive visual typology from four different resources: Photojournalism, war Films, documentaries, and video games. I have created six categories, which will apply to these resources: Explosions, soldiers in activity, Portraits, landscapes, graphic symbols, and death. This typology will be my source and a rational for the further experiments I intend to undertake.

In stage two I intend to conduct a series of experiments which will draw attention to the way these conventions and stereotypes are used and reused.

For Candy – Meet mr-chicken

Hi Candy,

Link to the book about chicken places signage and the man who creates it that I told you about. The book was designed by LCC MAGD graduate Siaron Hughes.

Teaching trough the eye

“To most men, the reading of long lines of numbers is great trouble, they put down a book when they see it has in it numbers or curves”

Otto Neurath, 1936.

Last week was the first time I read the International Picture Language book by Otto Neurath. I was fascinated, it touched my heart and moved it, for me, it is much beyond a technical document. The 1936 book is actually an explanation and rules of Isotype (International System of TYpographic Picture Education) which was created by Neurach and designed by Gerd arntz in the late 1920’s. The idea of Isotype was to be an international visual language, supporting written language for mass education. In my opinion, it might be considered as a utopian manifesto for education through visuals rather than text.

In his book, Otto Neurath mentions that turning statements of science into pictures is a very delicate business, and are not the work of a scientist or of a designer. It is combined work between them called transformation.

My area of interest is first of all, examining the Isotype method, how it began ? what happened to it ? its influence on modern graphic and information design, and the role of the designer/scientist as a “transformer” of information to visual.
Secondly, I would like to use my skills as a graphic designer in order to create my own version of “educating through the eye” Perhaps on the subject that throughout the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century has been flooded by images, texts and numbers, but for me is still remains almost abstract “crimes agains humanity”.

An alternative option is to try to create a more personal experiment. Using the rational of Isotype and grid logic, in order to visualize and document my own habits, family, interests and state of mind.

Furthermore, it might be better for me to  define my area of interest as: The term “crimes against humanity” is overwhelming and obscure, when I think about it I think of long lines of numbers and horrifying images. I intend to use graphic design methods in order to make sense to the term, define it, map it in a way that will be clear and might educate and make a change.

Plan for the next week:
1. Start primary experiments on “transformation” of statements of science into pictures
2. Contact the isotope archive in Reading  and try to visit there
3. Start collecting data on crimes against humanity in the last 111 years.

Reference Books that I have started to browse in this week:
1. International Picture Language, Otto Neurath
2. Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag
3. The Transformer, Marie Neurath & Robin Kinross
4. The Atlas of Human Rights, Clive Stafford Smith
5. Genocide, Howard Ball
6. Grid Systems, Josef Muller-Brockman
7. Sex, Drugs and Body Counts, Peter Andreas & Kelly.M Greenhill

1. Isotype Revisited
2. Gerd Arntz Web Archive

Piccadilly Circus loses


This “news item” was found yesterday on yahoo’s news page. My first reaction was laughing, but while analyzing this small item I understood how ridiculous the power of brands had become. I wonder if who ever wrote this peice was thinking about the meaning of its header, or was it just pure and fast intuition. Who made whom famous, Piccadilly Circus Sanyo or the other way around ? Who is losing by taking off the sign, The Circus or the corporate ? I believe that the Circus built in 1819 has much more of a narrative to offer than Sanyo. The Piccadily Circus is a London landmark, it was alive, bustling and kicking  way before Sanyo was incorporated, and in terms of branding I think that Piccadilly Circus is much stronger than Sanyo, and has a bigger “promise”. I’m sure that there is a Que of corporates waiting for Sanyo to evacuate their sign, but in my heart I know that the real losers are us, fascinated by the next neon to come.

Supermarket Art

“Is the experience of an art gallery fundamentally different than the experience  of a supermarket ?”

Nick Bell asks this question in “The Steam Roller of Branding” regarding the issue of “branding culture”, especially art galleries as the Tate, Barbican and the Whitechapel Gallery. It is very interesting to examine the approach of early 60’s Pop artists to the very same question. The Brillo soap pad boxes, Campbell’s soup packaging and the Heinz tomato ketchup box were all made between 1962-1964 by Andy Warhol. All of these art works were created with industial production methods such as screen print, and address the question of the separation of art from mass culture. These works contain a very strong message about the consumer society and its hunger for more. In my opinion Andy Warhol was saying  that the art galleries of that period were to “clean” and “rich” and by creating a “supermarket” experience in the gallery he draws a new line between art and consuming. This is the very same line that  disturbs Nick Bell.

“they believe their customers need to be lured to look at art with a mode of address they understand from spending time in the supermarket”

I think that Artist like Andy Warhol changed the art scene and turned it to what it is today, there is no doubt it is an aesthetic and spiritual sensation to see art work in a gallery, but it is also a consuming experience. While visiting a gallery, how many times did you say to yourself  “I would hang this piece on my beautiful exposed brick wall – if I could afford it”. To me, Nick Bell’s message is the opposite of Andy Warhol’s. While Andy Warhol’s attitude is  art is fun, art can deliver a message, lets mix things up,  Nick Bell’s attitude is Art is serious, we cant treat it like it is business, its holy, please be gentle with the branding. I prefer the first approach, artists create art, and then they sell it, I see no reason treating an art gallery (graphically) differently than any other institution, (Yes, including a supermarket) as long as the graphic identity delivers the content of the institution.

New Blog Theme

Hey everyone, I tried to change the blog theme a bit. we can change headers and backgrounds, the size of the header is 1000 x 300 pixels, and it could be nice to change it once in a while. you can either send the header to me and I will upload it or just go to “my Blog” > Blog themes and upload it. hope you like it, if not we can do something different with it.

Egypt – where ir all begins

What happened in the last month in Egypt, gives this  logo, campaign and slogan a bit of a twist doesn’t it ? the campaign was originally made for the Egyptian Tourist Authority developed by the Cairo office of JWT and aims to establish Egypt as a place where there is more than really big tombs. (posted in Brand New April 7 2010)

The Information

An insightful article by Adam Gopnik from the recent “New Yorker” about the internet and books about the internet and books about books about the internet.

“When the electric toaster was invented, there were, no doubt, books that said that the toaster would open up horizons for breakfast undreamed of in the days of burning bread over an open flame; books that told you that the toaster would bring an end to the days of creative breakfast, since our children, growing up with uniformly sliced bread, made to fit a single opening, would never know what a loaf of their own was like; and books that told you that sometimes the toaster would make breakfast better and sometimes it would make breakfast worse, and that the cost for finding this out would be the price of the book you’d just bought.

All three kinds appear among the new books about the Internet: call them the Never-Betters, the Better-Nevers, and the Ever-Wasers.”

The Power of Underdesign

Last week I was sitting here with my wife while she was trying to find a Yoga class online. A very interesting remark of hers caught my attention, she said that  she got many recommendations for triyoga and was very disappointed after practicing there. According to her the “Branded” environment of the studio was too much for her and took the spirit out of the yoga practice. “It felt like a gift shop and not like a yoga studio” she said. After some other recommendations and more web searches she found  astangayogalondon, a very modest and professional studio according to her. After hitting their website for the first time she told me that it seems like a much friendlier studio, and I thought…yes maybe it is much more professional, maybe the owners of this place are interested in practicing Yoga and not in branding themselves, or…maybe its the functionality, this website does not try to sell me an experience it just try’s to give me the information. However this is also not true, they picked a color, they have a logo, they have a picture of someone posing Yoga, but it just looks like it wasn’t designed by a branding agency. So is the strength of the image of astangayogalondon and the “real feel” of it based on the fact that its design is less contemporary than triyoga’s design ? And if the answer is yes, is that a method that branding agencies might start using in order to capture our heart ?