If you were creating your own alphabet comprised just of symbols, how many symbols would you utilize and what would they be? The “visual alphabet” you are designing will have its utility in being used “to represent an idea”. That is the task Dave Gray gave himself when he set out to design a visual alphabet.
Gray’s alphabet consists of twelve symbols. The first six he calls “Flows” and likens them to vowels:
The second six are “Forms”:
- circle or oval
- square or rectangle
With these twelve symbols you can draw a representation of anything, according to Gray. During Dave’s vizthink session he demonstrated his point by quickly creating a number of drawings. That’s where I learned the term “sweatles” – motion lines that show energy, like little beads of sweat coming off someone’s brow or the motion lines behind a vehicle. To further his ideas, Gray has a self-published book that appears to be continually in the works, Marks and Meanings, version zero, which you can purchase on Lulu.com
Gray’s visual alphabet, along with my husband’s many SketchUp models, has gotten me thinking about the ways in which people process information and think about what they hear and see, in particular within the world of education. My next post on this topic will be more visual than textual.
Organizations/Programs dedicated to visual thinking in schools: