»Comparing apples
and oranges is my
daily bread.«

Juli Gudehus

in the true sense of the sign

Unhindered global communication – a dream of humankind. Could it be realised with the help of icons? That is what the exhibition is about. Playfully and participative.

Every single day on screens, signs, devices, and ­products, we see innumerable pictograms, symbols, and logos. We ­decode ­myriads of these visual short messages every day! We ­usually tend to do this semi-consciously and yet remarkably fast.

I asked myself, wether they could convey long messages as well. Following the Egyptians‘ example I developed an independent Icon Esperanto in 1992. By using hieroglyphics of our time, I matched them to our viewing habits, and translated a well known text: the biblical creation story.

Since that time, a digital world has grown up. More and more screens and a deluge of icons surround us. That gave others the idea to tell stories with them. Thus my »GENESIS« unexpectedly became »SUI GENERIS« – first of its own kind.

In the mean time we witnessed an undreamt-of globalization. A global icon language seems to be all the more desirable.

This idea seems to have been in the wind for a ­while now. So far however, all attempts are still in their in­fancy. There is, as yet, no functioning cross-cultural and differentiated communication via icons. The task is inconceivably difficult and of gigantic dimensions. A picto grammar had to be ­created and tested. And our whole material and immaterial world would have to be rendered ­symbolically in order to be able to translate Hegel or tax returns – let alone Dr. Seuss.

In short: a lot is still missing. It stays as exciting as it is difficult, but all of this must not deter us from trying it at least! For instance by integrating the exhibitions visitor’s »swarm intelligence« …

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