Internationally Indisputable

By Melinda Aissani

Need to use the loo and you are in a place where you don’t speak the language? Panic not slowly look around and you will see an international sign for toilets after all these signs are more or less the same the world over, and that is the point! Signs and images have been used since caveman times to tell stories and to give information without even needing to understand any words. Still, as powerful as then, these classic and international signs in artwork roadmaps and books help us navigate an unspoken world.

In terms of communication, besides using our voice, images are very important to give information. At a young age, we are taught how to speak and understand a common language. In addition to learning and interpreting a language, we are also taught how to acknowledge and interpret common symbols.
International signs are made with the purpose to be recognised by everyone around the world. 

These signs were created to recognise some international signs, symbols and pictograms, without having to ‘think’. These international signs can unite us everywhere in the world. And give us information to guide us. Images have powerful strength.

For instance, a symbol constructs the groundwork for organizational landscapes. A form of sign that directs and controls human activity within a landscape. Symbols like such, organize people within that landscape by non-verbally constructing them into spaces. Some symbols stand about us as a mute and motionless society. While these symbols do not speak, we are used to understanding them. Because they have a meaning, due to historical culture. The interpretation of these historical images allows for the overall acknowledgement and understanding of symbols.

Over time, these historical meanings have developed into cultural norms and expectations. It become ingrained and displayed through human behaviour. So here below you can find the top International sign :

In case of emergency, Exit signs are everywhere, called the “running man”. Designed to be unmistakable and understandable to anyone, it denotes the location of the closest emergency exit. Used in case of fire or another emergency that requires quick evacuation.

Stop signs, found principally on the road everywhere in the world, it’s a red octagon with the word STOP. A traffic sign designed to notify drivers that they must come to a complete stop. Although it may come in different shapes the red with white writing is eternal.

Sometimes on a dangerous product, you will see the Hazard symbols. Such as for example Skull and Crossbones signs, which can be found on substances such as poisons and highly concentrated acids, which have an immediate and severe toxic effect.

In case of trouble, you can find a sign with an Emergency Telephone which identifies the location of an emergency.

The most unavoidable of all signs is the Women and Men Restroom Sign. A Universal symbol, defined by social and cultural conventions and interactions. Specifically, an image of a man and a woman, and not a written word.

The International Symbol of Access (ISA) denotes a place to be accessible for persons with special needs, especially wheelchair users. The symbol consists of a blue square with overlaid stick image of a person in a wheelchair. The symbol usually denotes the removal of infrastructural barriers like steps or narrow entrances. But also parking space reserved for vehicles used by persons with disabilities.

Just to think about how symbols, signs and pictograms were only put in several countries some years ago, was unthinkable. But they make the world connected, they knew how to implement a universal language only with images. Certainly, words are important but don’t underestimate the power of images in communication.

If you want to learn more about the history of communication, Michael Horsham a cultural historian author will release in September 2022, Hello Human. New from Thames & Hudson, the book takes readers on a kaleidoscopic journey tracing the methods and means of visual communication from the cave paintings of the earliest humans to the ‘photograph’ of a black hole in deep space. He demonstrates how to make the world connected, with a universal language only with images. The book shows us the supremacy of visual communication. And not underestimate the power of images in communication. A powerful meaning.

Hello, humans retrace our diverse discoveries about human communication. From the use of the human hand as a symbol, or the power of gesture, which conclude to the language and the ability of writing; We have created books and now we are communicating through visual communication, technology may keep changing our habits, but to keep us inform and entertain human needs to follow the changes.

The book is organized into five sections, each chapter explores a different facet of communication, from the scribal culture to the Renaissance of technology. Accompanying the fast-paced text are carefully researched images that invite contemplation and provoke thought on every page.

Indeed, several artists have studied how our brain works. And they provide us with works of art with the purpose to trick our brains. By changing our perspective, they exactly knew how to link art and politics.

By talking about servals issues around the world, and there is particularly one artist Reena Saini Kallat. She communicates through art, image, and photography because it is much more symbolic than words. If you are searching for an exhibition which can open your eyes to a new vision of the world go to Compton Verney, an extraordinary place, a cultural kaleidoscope. Roam and discover, how to lose yourself and find yourself in the exhibition.

From her studio in Mumbai, Reena Saini Kallat has become a world-renowned visual artist. With a particular interest in how political and social borders can act as divisions between countries and people. Such as the ongoing effects of the 1947 partition of India, which her family experienced.

Reena Saini Kallat

She used drawing, photography, sculpture, and video, to express herself. The largest exhibition of her work is in the UK it promises to be an immersive and thought-provoking show. While introducing several new pieces created especially for the Warwickshire art gallery and park, in an exhibition called Reena Saini Kallat. Find it in the Common Ground on 15 October 2022 to 29 January 2023.

Common Ground opens with Chorus I (2015-19). A large interactive sculpture modelled on pre-radar devices, used in the Second World War, to pick up sounds of enemy aircraft. In an act of radical yet playful subversion, Kallat has replaced the sounds of war with birdsong.

Sculpture in Reena Saini Kallat exhibition

She also used rivers to talk about river conflicts around the world. Indeed rivers have been another recurrent motif in Kallat’s work since 2009-10.
Over millennia, mankind has manipulated the course of rivers for irrigation, navigation and energy purposes. By highlighting how bodies of water work between opposing nations and alludes to the ever-increasing human imprint on the natural world.

World and rivers in Reena Saini Kallat exhibition

She plays in a way to impact our brain. In another work, she draws attention to centuries of political map-making. Kallat has subverted the European Atlantic-centred map conventions and placed the world ‘south-up’. Shifting the psychological perspective expressed in maps which traditionally show the north as dominant.

Map in Reena Saini Kallat exhibition

Reena says:

“The unannounced developments in the last two years amidst the pandemic have revealed not just our deep disconnect with the natural world but exposed new boundaries between nations, and new defences between the self and the world. Despite the many protests, conflicts and crises, witnessing in the world today, perhaps we find common ground in our vulnerability against the uncontrollable forces of nature”

A reinterpretation is enough to make us change our point of view. And a collective image is enough to warn us.

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.Cent Magazine, London. Be Inspired; Get Involved.

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