Fun With Visuals

Tammy Garcia of Daisy Yellow has a lot of fun with Index Cards. She’s about to begin her Index Card A Day (ICAD) challenge again, and asked me to contribute a card. How could I not want to do that?

I’ve been experimenting with visual literacy lately–how we understand image-only messages, from icon-signs in airports to how we express ourselves with shapes and colors.

I made a card using basic shapes–a rectangle, a circle, a triangle, and a square–all in different colors (printed with a Gelli plate).


Seems simple enough. Almost like a shape-identifier in a children’s book.
But look what happens when you turn the card upside down:

You can immediately interpret the shapes to spell the word “love.”

ICADTammyGInterestingly enough, this works not because we can recognize letters from their general shapes, but because the word Love has a unique progression of letters that translate into basic shapes.

I made a similar card to spell “Book.” Rectangle, circle, circle, rectangle. No recognition at all. Because it could have also spelled Tool, Fool, Pool, or Cook, Rook, Look, Hook. (There are more).

There is a certain amount of visual- and life experience necessary to “get” the Love card. And there is a certain amount of cultural literacy involved too.images

Which makes the icon on the left  funny–in two years, when the bacon craze is over, it won’t seem funny anymore.


–Quinn McDonald is curious about almost anything to do with words and what they mean.