John Pobojewski/3st just returned from Istanbul where he made a presentation of the Thirst portfolio and led the first Alphabet of Now workshop filled with 30+ scholars and design practitioners at the cultural institution SALT.
Alphabet of Now aims to explore questions surrounding the recognition of visual language: something we often take for granted. Pobojewski asks: What if we started over today with a new series of symbols? Our ancestors felt the need to document images that represented the world around them: Eye, Hands, Wave, Bowl. If we followed the same model, what would the important concepts of our modern world be? How would we represent them? And what could this new visual language look like as it became abstracted and simplified over time?
Participants were asked to consider the ancient written language of the Sumerians as a model: a series of pictogram images that, over time, became simplified.
Participants then debated the concepts or ideas that we value in our society today. What do we need to document to preserve for generations? It was noted that our modern concepts were very abstract compared to those from the prehistoric age, and tended to represent desires of our society versus us as individuals. Does our group truly deem societal desires most important, or is this simply a result of the context of this workshop?
Each participant was then asked to illustrate a concept using modern technology: either by taking a picture via cell phone camera, or making a gesture into a Kinect motion camera.
SALT is a cultural institution in Istanbul that explores critical and timely issues in visual and material culture, and cultivates innovative programs for research and experimental thinking. Assuming an open attitude and establishing itself as a site of learning and debate SALT aims to challenge, excite and provoke its visitors by encouraging them to offer critique and response.