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Publikation Visible Language

The thematic issue of Visible Language introduces “practice-led iconic research” as a methodology developed over the past decade. “Iconic Research”, an interdisciplinary field of scientific inquiry into all kinds of images, emerged from the description of the “iconic turn” (Boehm 1994) and the “pictorial turn” (Mitchell 1995) in the mid-1990s within the scope of art history. The lack of reflection on how images create meaning was pointed out in comparison to the analytical reflection on language starting in antiquity. This lack of a scientific analysis of images is especially significant considering the exponential increase of image production and dissemination caused by digitalization. These observations led to the development of the methodology we call today “practice-led iconic research” (Renner 2010). In short, this term means the systematic creation of visual variations as a methodology to describe a specific effect images cause in a beholder. The verbal description is based on the comparative analysis of visual alternatives created beforehand.

The articles published in this issue of Visible Language describe and demonstrate what distinguishes the design of images for communication in a design office from the design of images to contribute to a scientific question related to iconic research. The articles present projects which were developed in the context provided through the co-operation of the Visual Communication Institute, The Basel School of Design HGK FHNW with eikones (Center for the Theory and History of the Image, University of Basel) from 2005 till 2013 as well as research projects which were developed independently at the Visual Communication Institute since the turn of the Millennium until today.

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