»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 achieved with the help of icons? That is what this playful and participative exhibition is about.

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 long messages could be conveyed in the same way. In 1992, following the ancient Egyptians‘ example, I developed an independent Icon Esperanto. 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« – the first of its own kind.

In the meantime we witnessed globalisation on a vast scale. A global icon language would therefore seem 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 would have to be ­created and tested. 

Our entire material and immaterial world would have to be rendered ­symbolically, in order to enable translations of Hegel, or tax returns – not to mention Dr. Seuss!

In short: a lot is still to do. The task remains as exciting as it is difficult, but we must not be deterred from trying! For instance by integrating the exhibition’s visitors’ »swarm intelligence« …
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