Isotype

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The Isotypemovement
The important movement toward developing a "world lan¬guage without words" began in the 1920s, continued into the 1940s, and still has important influences today.

The Isotypeconcept involves the use of elementary pictographs to convey information.

Otto Neurath
The originator of this effort was Vienna sociologist Otto Neurath (1882-1945). As a child, Neurath marveledat the way ideas and factual information could be conveyed by visual means.

Egyptian wall frescoes in a Vienna Museum and diagrams and illustrations in his father's books fired his imagination.Neurath felt that the social and eco¬nomic changes following World War I demanded clear com¬munication to assist public understanding of important social issues relating to housing, health, andeconomics.

A system of elementary pictographs to present complex data, particularly statistical data, was developed (Fig. 16-42). His charts were completely functional and shorn of decorative qualities.Neurath had ties with the new typography movement, for Tschichold assisted him and his collaborators briefly in the late 1920s, and Renner's new Futura typeface was adopted for Isotype designsimmediately after it became available.

Originally called the Vienna Method, the name Isotype (International System of Typographic Picture Education) was selected after Neurath moved to Holland in1934.

The Transformation Team, headed by scientist and mathematician Marie Reidermeister (1898-1959), converted verbal and numerical data compiled by statisticians and researchers into layout form.These layouts were handed over to graphic artists for final execution.

One problem was the need to produce large quantities of symbols for charts. Initially the pictographs were individually drawnor cut from paper.

After woodcut artist Gerd Arntz (1900-88), whose constructivist-inspired prints included archetypal geometric figures, joined the group in 1928, he designed most of the...
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