“Although Neurath believed that pictures are objective and universal, the meanings of international signs are culturally specific”
The method of communication either verbally or written is by using words in a structured and conventional way and is what is known as language (Oxford Dictionary). This is the basic form of human communication by which people exchange opinions, knowledge and beliefs. However, the system of communication is complex and with approximately 6,000 languages across the world, it can often be difficult to communicate. The development of a language that could be understood by everyone was the basis of the innovative international pictographic design system developed by Otto Neurath in the 1920s. This essay discusses the development of this universal language and presents examples of how pictographic designs are used right up to the present day. It sets out a number of specific examples which show how pictorial designs are universally used to assist visual communication and education. Neurath believed that the use of pictorial information was objective and universal, could be understood by all, and above all “would dissolve cultural differences” (Lupton, 1989).
The Origin of the Isotype System
It began with the Viennese philosopher, social scientist and political economist, Otto Neurath, who was born in 1882. As a person who was active in the Social Democratic parties in Germany and Austria in the 1920s, he was responsible for developing an innovative form of scientific expression. He was one of the leading members of the Vienna Circle in the 1920s, a group of philosophers, scientists and mathematicians who met regularly to discuss scientific language. The Vienna Circle promoted logical positivism which meant that the only empirical statements were those that were either empirically verifiable or grounded in logical and mathematics. Neurath set out to show that all languages could be reduced to a core of direct...