Globalmurmurs: A celebration of diversity and equal rights.
The project “Genomics” by Sean Burgess deals with GMOs (genetically modified organisms), using recombinant DNA methods, gene modification, and transgenic technology. This current and polarizing topic questions social, political, economic, ethical, and moral values of our society. Is this really the way we, as citizens, want to optimize, control, manipulate and shape our world? Burgess applies the principles of genetic modeling to the visual form of his project. He modifies a simple structure into a complete set of diverse and variable iterations, creating increasingly complex constructions. As a “creator,” Burgess strictly follows a systematic, precise, and minimal approach that is dominated by a characteristic diagonal orientation.
Each symbol is described by a disciplinary terminology of genetics. It is supplemented with a term of mundane language to enable a layperson to grasp the full understanding of the concept. As an example, one of the symbols is called “Trisomy and Error,” and another is called “In Vitro and Design.” The jury was particularly impressed by the clarity and abstraction in his visual scheme. The outstanding qualities of Sean Burgess’ work are the analytic and visual approach, the clear exploration of symbolic elements, and its elaboration and execution.
For centuries, ornamental explorations of Arabic script have been diverse and mesmerizing. The great visual richness manifests both in an elaborated application derived from handwriting, as well as in abstract geometric patterns and ornamentations. This is particularly true in the architectural context. The URBIC experiment combines these visual traditions with current urban design themes in a surprising approach. Concepts of urban planning are reproduced as characters in Arabic translation; they convey meaning visually without abandoning readability. Tracy Bassil combines her passion as an Architecture and Digital Media student with the local visual culture of Beirut to raise awareness of urban challenges like accessibility, densification, urban sprawl, and environmental equity. In a playful way, this reminds us of our social responsibilities building the physical and digital infrastructures for future generations. Even though not all symbols appear perceptible at first glance to the Arabic reader, the jury was impressed by the convincibility of the global visual language, its unique approach to hybridity, and the design quality of the 45 symbols.
Fatima Mohammed Bham
UNITY IN DIVERSITY
“Unity in Diversity” is not only the title of the project, but it is in many facets the representation of this – on the first glance – contradicting idea. The conceptual setup appears initially quite straightforward, with the visualization of five words: truth, joy, honor, love and peace. Each of the five words are visualized by a composed “fountain” of eight elements. The eight single elements communicate a visual translation of the word in eight different languages/cultures. In this construction, the symbol “TRUTH” is built by the following languages: Yiddish, Japanese, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Bengali, Xhosa, and Zulu. In addition, the designers successfully incorporated the water element, which unifies humans in each of their symbols. The five fountains are designed with refinement and a delicate fusion of sub-symbols offering a unique and coherent visual language. Each symbol is distinctive yet follows one aesthetic idea.
As much as the language expertise of the international jury allows, the symbols are capturing the idea of truth, joy, honor, love or peace in each cultural context. “Unity in Diversity” was created by a group of four young designers from diverse cultural backgrounds, all studying in South Africa. The contribution of four personalities who are reflecting their own culture, but still managing to unify the visual appearance of the symbols, is another brilliant achievement of intercultural visual communication demonstrated in this work.
Associate Professor, Lebanese American University Beirut
Designer, Atelier Gruen
Associate Professor, Universidad de los Andes Bogotá
Assistant Professor, Parsons School for Design New York
Professor Emeritus, Academy of Media Arts Cologne
Assistant Professor, Hong Kong Baptist University