The Living Symbol by Aloisio Magalhães

Herbert Bayer

1965

aloisio magalhães

The Living Symbol by Aloisio Magalhães

UMN Libraries 2011

Typographica 12

Symbol and poster designed by Aloisio Magalhães for the Fourth Centenary of Rio de Janeiro

  • p. 27

The use and adaptation by the public of the symbol I devised for the Fourth Centenary of Rio de Janeiro provides, I think a unique opportunity to examine an interesting facet of designing for the community. The photographs reproduced on ages 31-8 are a small selection from the many I felt compelled to take in view of the amazing diversity of uses I saw on all sides. I had not intended to make this kind of documentation and, except for a few planned Sunday tours of the suburbs, all the photographs shown here were taken spontaneously whenever an interesting application caught my eye. But since this this happened frequently I made it a habit to carry a camera in my car and this may explain why certain kinds of use seem perhaps to be either neglected or stressed. Taking all applications of the symbol into account, I think we can define the three main categories of use as:

(a) ‘programmatic’, or official;

(b) commercial; and

(c) spontaneous or popular.

Here I have concentrated my attention on the last category where the symbol has been stripped of all erudition, although the basic idea has been retained and exploited almost as a kind of personal expression. The symbol has appeared on walls, fences, gates, screens, pavements, sandy beaches, lamp posts, buses, cars, lorries, handcarts, shop windows, flags, posters, and even aerials, in children’s drawings, as well as on shirts, stockings, kites, toys, balls, lamps, fancy dresses, bathing suits, ties, tissues, and key tags. Wire, tape, charcoal, chalk, pencil, paper, string, paint, wood, rope, embroidrey, and plastics, are among the materials used to reproduce the symbol.

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