This is just plain brilliant. Love the type too.
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor
The five interlaced rings of the Olympic flag — blue, yellow, black, green, and red — Pierre De Coubertin said in 1931, represent “the five inhabited continents of the world, united by Olympism.” No continent (now region) is assigned a specific color. Perhaps that’s why graphic designer Gustavo Sousa intentionally chose not to provide a legend or key for the illustrations above.
In his illustrations, Mr. Sousa assigns each color of the Olympic rings to a specific continent and then pairs it with a variety of data sets: obesity, gun ownership, McDonald’s outlets, population, homicides, people living with HIV, military expenditures, Facebook users, number of Catholic priests, percentage of homes with televisions, to name a few. He requires the viewer to ponder, to reflect, to think, to make sense of the information.
As Mr. Sousa explained to Fast Company, “The rings represent healthy competition and union, but we know the world isn’t perfect. Maybe understanding the differences is the first step to try to make things more equal.”
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Shoah: A Table of Elements
by Dov Abramson, guest contributor
“The trade of chemist (fortified, in my case, by the experience of Auschwitz), teaches you to overcome, indeed to ignore, certain revulsions that are neither necessary nor congenital: matter is matter, neither noble nor vile, infinitely transformable, and its proximate origin is of no importance whatsoever. Nitrogen is nitrogen, it passes miraculously from the air into plants, from these into animals, and from animals into us; when its function in our body is exhausted, we eliminate it, but it still remains nitrogen, aseptic, innocent.”
—Primo Levi, The Periodic Table
The Holocaust represented a contradiction in perception: ordered, regimented evil and unrestrained, billowing pain. For decades, artists have sought to capture the ineffable destruction that befell the Jewish people.
“Shoah: A Table of Elements” describes the task of making order of the ungraspable. In so doing, it works to release some of the emotional charge of our most raw subjects, while evoking the more prominent associations of the Holocaust: the gases, the smoke, the debris.
“Shoah: A Table of Elements” is a meditation on how we commit to memory, how we use symbols, and how we represent that which we cannot behold.
Dov Abramson is founder and creative director of an art and design studio in Jerusalem, Israel. His work combines classic graphic design and branding with independent artistic work that deals with Jewish and Israeli identity. His projects have been featured in Zeek, Forward, Maariv, Haaretz, and the Chicago Tribune, and his art has been exhibited at The Jewish Museum in New York and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
We welcome your original reflections, essays, videos, or news items for possible publication on the On Being Tumblr. Submit your entry through our First Person Outreach page.
A Universal Human Rights Logo Delivers a Message and Meaning Inside the Image
by Susan Leem, associate producer
The Human Rights Logo Initiative chose Serbian artist Predrag Stakić’s entry as the winner of its competition to design the Universal Human Rights Logo.
“Free as a Man” evokes the peace dove and the five fingers of a hand reaching up to be counted and acknowledged. Have a look at the other finalists’ entries for more great concepts around this project.
I’m wondering how having a logo to represent universal human rights changes the way we think about that complex issue? What gets lost in translation when reducing an international struggle to one logo? Is this image able to function, as Utne Reader suggests, as “a new peace symbol?”
A Bible for the “Non Card-Carrying Christian”
Trent Gilliss, Online Editor
The FontFeed showcased a provocative and, in my opinion, a refreshingly dynamic take on the cover art for a contemporary edition of the Bible. The colors are vibrant and engaging, which reminds people that the Bible is a living text pulsing with lessons for 21st-century readers. And, the depictions of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden are playful and allusive, meant to conjure more questions than to answer them with overly weighty symbolism that would have bogged down the spaciousness of the art work. If you’re interested in opining on what the graphic designers missed or got right, Stand Firm, a blog devoted to “traditional Anglicanism in America,” has an active comment thread worth reading.
As Carl Rush, the founder of the UK-based design agency Crush that created the cover, points out, their intention was to make it the “must have accessory for any non card carrying Christian.” My regret? I can’t find a place where I can actually buy the tome. Help!
Here’s the image unadorned with titling and text. Click for better detail:
(Images courtesy of Crush Design & Art Direction)