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Transformations making atlases: Isotype as exemplar of geographical integration

Authors: Francis Harvey*, Leibniz-Institut Für Länderkunde
Topics: Cartography, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Geographic Thought
Keywords: atlas, cartography, integration, visualization, modernism
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: Download



In the Twentieth Century, Isotype became one of the first and best known systematic concepts for the preparation and presentation of what we now usually call infographics. A Transformator was central to analysis and visualization. Developed initially by Otto Neurath and co-workers in the 1920 as a means of scientific communication and for actively informing people about contemporary issues, it has had significant impact on the development of infographics, even though rarely fully comprehend. From its origins in the 1920s, Isotype developed in the 1930s and became influential through animated film sequences and large circulation introductory books in spite of disruptive moves from Austria to the USSR, there to the Netherland and finally at the beginning of the war in west to England. During World War II, Isotype-based materials supported a number of war-related information campaigns and Otto Neurath and his significant partner, later wife, Marie Neurath, created a viable production firm that produced materials, mainly school books, until the early 1970s. After his untimely death in 1945, Marie Neurath was central as integrator, who combined, facilitated and oversaw the preparation and creation of the draft concepts to guide graphic production in the projects.

Maps were central in Isotype. This presentation focuses on role of maps in communication and activities of the communicator. They were important graphical means for visualizing geographic relations and processes in conjunction with other graphics and text arranged in a composition that facilitated reader engagement and discovery. I will also consider Isotype's relevance for geographic integration.

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