Urban Screens: the beginning of a universal visual culture


  • Paul Martin Lester




Austrian statistician Otto Neurath wrote in 1925, “words divide, pictures unite.” In 1936 Neurath introduced a set of pictographic characters he called Isotype (International System of Typographic Picture Education) that he hoped would become a universal visual language and help unify the world. Traffic, airport, and Olympic competition sign designers owe their careers in large part to the efforts of Neurath and his staff. As we can see today by the examples shown and analysed in this special issue on urban screens, the unification of the world is happening literally in front of our eyes whether as similarly stylistic graffiti mural presentations or seven-story nanotech light shows projected on an infinite variety of urban substrates. Literal, narrative, horizontal, cloistered, and verbal culture is being replaced by symbolic, interactive, profound, global, and visual culture. Neurath would be pleased.




How to Cite

Lester, P. M. (2006). Urban Screens: the beginning of a universal visual culture. First Monday. https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v0i0.1543