02 Visual Significance

Module 02 

(13, 14 and 15 November 2013)
The Visual Significance of Imaging, and the Diagram

With Nader Vossoughian & Roemer van Toorn

Working, as cultural producers do, in the tension between thinking and making, between theory and practice, between presentation and representation, presupposes linguistic awareness and requires a deliberate staging of the message. Focusing on narrative strategies and methods, media and language uses of critical sense making from different cultural fields – literature, fine art, architecture, communication design, and film.

The purpose of the second workshop is not only to show how political values (ideologies) are embedded and made effective through visuals and diagrams; like in the work of Otto Neurath and Ernst Neufert; investigating standardization, but also will help each PhD researcher, to create a spatial and visual model of their PhD – through graphs, maps and trees – that enables him/her to communicate and develop their research question and point of view further. What pattern structures would be appropiate for their narrative flow? Or in other words what kind of network of vertices and edges; a plot, of topics and actions do construct an appropriate communication of the PhD content?

Nader Vossoughian will – in two different lectures – talk about the architectural visual arguments of Otto Neurath and Ernst Neufert. By comparing these two opposing mentalities; the classical, “neutral” one of Neufert and the dialogical one of Neurath: the two different ideas of modernity (it’s functionality, norm-ality, idea of universal values, standardization and other ideas) will be highlighted.

Nader Vossoughian is a curator, critic, and theorist whose research interests center on the relationship between politics, knowledge, and the city. He has recently contributed essays to European Modernism and the Information Society; Otto Neurath’s Economic Writings; and Josef Frank 1885-1967 – Eine Moderne der Unordnung. His curatorial credits include “Urban Disobedience: The Work of Santiago Cirugeda,” and “After Neurath: The Global Polis,” the latter of which took place at Stroom den Haag earlier this year. His first book, Otto Neurath: The Language of the Global Polis was recently released (based on his dissertation). Currently, he is a lecturer at the Museum of Modern Art and an associate professor of architecture at the New York Institute of Technology. His articles have appeared in Bidoun, Metropolis, Design Issues, Volume, the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, and Transnational Associations.

Roemer van Toorn is the Architectural Theory Professor at the Umeå School of Architecture. He is a writer, educator, curator and photographer in the field of architecture and cultural studies. From 1993 till 2010 he has been in charge of the History and Theory program and was Head of publications at the Berlage Institute. He has written extensively about architecture and has been the editor of several magazines and publications. Currently he is finishing the forthcoming text and photo book the Society of The And with a grant from Architecture In Effect (Formas) research fund.

Recorded Lectures by Nader Vossoughian, seminar Visual Comparison, and PhD presentations.
Public lecture Nader Vossoughian, 13 November
Seminar Lecture Nader Vossoughian
Seminar Comparing Visuals, 13 November
Presentation Visual Diagram PhD 1: Brady Burroughs (00.17.36)  & Fredrik Torisson (01.05.00)
Presentation Visual Diagram PhD 2: Helen Runting & Janek Ozmin (00:52:38)
Presentation Visual Diagram PhD 3: Katja Hogenboom & Maria Rasmussen (00:
Presentation Visual Diagram PhD 4: Olga Bannova & Sepideh Karami (00:45:21)


13, 14 and 15 November, 2013
Download time schedule: just click: Time Schedule

PhD reseachers
The 10 participating researchers mentioned below will be present at UMA School of architecture. Four other reearchers do the course at distance, and will be back in January with the third module.

1) Maria Rasmussen (Lund)
2) Brady Burroughs (KTH)
3) Helen Runting (KTH)
4) Olga Bannova (Chalmers)
5) Fredrik Torisson (Lund)
6) Janek Ozmin (UMA)
7) Alberto Altes Arlandis (UMA)
8) Sepideh Karami (UMA)
9) Katja Hogenboom (UMA)
10) Frida Rosenberg (KTH)

1) Chotima ag-ukrikul (Chalmers)
2) Eva Minoura (KTH)
3) Erik Sigge (KTH)
4) Eunyoung Chi (KTH)

Activity 01, day 01

Critical Comparative Analysis of Visuals. Group workshop (13 November)

After Roemer van Toorn’s Wednesday morning welcome, each researcher will address a 5 minute PhD presentation at the roundtable that will be discussed together with guest professor Nader Vossoughian. Than five groups (of 2 persons each) will be formed that critically analyze and later present what they think about the different visuals we have made available at UMA (you find the list of the visual comparisons below). All the visuals will be present for further analysis, but can of course also be studied in advance if you wish to do so. This list of visual examples can also inspire, and help you, to prepare your own conceptual diagram (which you have to uploaded in advance to the blog) and will be discussed and elaborated together in the editorial sessions the 2nd and 3rd day (Thursday and Friday) of the seminar.

Visual Comparisons to critically compare:

1. Yona Friedman’s Environment and Self-Reliance versus (to be announced)
2. Le Corbusier (spread from Vers une Architecture) versus Rem Koolhaas (spread from the first edition of Delirious New York)
3. Herbert Bayer’s design for a cigarette kiosk versus Rem Koolhaas Seattle Central Library diagrams
4. The Whole Earth Catalog versus the Bauentwurfslehre
5. The Center for Urban Pedagogy’s Street Vendor Guide (http://candychang.com/street-vendor-guide/) versus Ikea Instructional manual (https://www.google.com/search?q=ikea+instruction+manual&client=safari&rls=en&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=RSKCUrTGJcbMsgaunIDIBQ&ved=0CEIQsAQ&biw=1100&bih=896)
6. Neurath’s Gesellschaft und Wirtschaft versus Neufert’s Bauentwurfslehre
7. Neurath’s International Picture Language versus Petrochemical America by Richard Misrach & Kate Orff.

At the end of the first day (see also enclosed timeschedule) Nader Vossoughian will address his public lecture: Architecture as Visual Argument: the Bauentwurfslehre as case Study.

Activity 02, day 2 & 3 (Presentations & Blog Post)

Editorial Board Meetings (14, 15 November)

What we ask each PhD reseacher to present and prepare (and upload on the blogpost) – for the editorial meetings on Thursday and Friday – is a visual/textual diagram of the conceptual structure (plot) of your PhD research as a whole. This – for example A3 format model/diagram – presents how the different chapters and its contents are related to the other parts, what sequences, layers of information and connections their could exist, what kind of visual/textual editing is needed, etc.

In other words this PhD visual/textual diagram/model shows how the content unfolds through its chosen structure (communicative strategy, visual, textual and other media (narrative) plot) – that structures and communicates the PhD research. It is this diagram of your whole PhD we like to further develop and discuss during our two days of editorial meetings.

Each individual PhD researcher prepares a 10-minute (powerpoint, keynote or PDF) presentation explaining their PhD diagram/model– and have uploaded a more extensive format.


The Adrian Forty reading is nice because it’s very analytical. Forty is very good at interpreting images in a politically sensitive way. The Laura Kurgan text should open up questions about visual communication as they relate to data mapping. The Jan Tschichold book (and Nader Vossoughian’s book for that matter) offers a panorama view of “modernist” approaches to visuality/visua¬lization, particularly where the city is concerned. The text on propaganda by Roemer van Toorn could be really useful for how it fleshes out the “agenda” for the course.

The additional readings, by Otto Neurath in particular, might make for nice background use. The Gesellschaft und Wirtschaft link to PDF resource includes amazing diagrams from Neurath 30-ties research. A must see!

Mandatory readings

PDF’s of your mandatory reading material are found on the password protected page; https://communicationsresarc.net/pdfs/

Adrian Forty. Objects of Desire: Design and Society 1750-1980. London: Thames and Hudson, 1986. 222-245.

Laura Kurgan. Close up at a Distance: Mapping, Technology and Politics. New York: Zone Books, 2013. 8-54; 187-206.

Jan Tschichold. The New Typography. Tr., Ruari McLean, with an Introduction by Robin Kinross. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. 52-106.

Nader Vossoughian. Otto Neurath: The Language of the Global Polis. Rotterdam: NAi, 2011. 10-87.

Roemer van Toorn. “Critique=Propaganda. The Role of Critics in the Netherlands”

Franco Moretti, Network Theory, Plot Analysis, New left Review, nr 68, 2011.

Additional readings

History I

On Neurath:
Gesellschaft und Wirtschaft (1930)

International Picture Language (1936)

Kinross and Neurath: Principles of Making ISOTYPE Charts

On Neufert:
Bauentwurfslehre (comparison of 1936, 1944, 1950, 1959 editions) Š. Weckherlin, Ernst Neuferts Bauentwurfslehre.

Architects Data: Anxiety, Creativity and Authorial Abdication, in Tim Anstey, et. al., eds., Architecture and Authorship, London: Black Dog Publishing, 2007.

Measurement systems (norms) as form of Aesthetisation:
El Lissitzky critique on Le Corbusier’s Modulor, … ?

History II

History of Sexuality, Volume 1, Michel Foucault

New Critique of Political Economy, Bernard Stiegler.

George Canguilhem, The Normal and the Pathological (2nd edition)

Noopolitics, Sven Olov Wallenstein, 2013.


Module 02

November 13, 14 and 15, 2013, UMA School of Architecture, Umeå

From Umeå airport to hotel by taxi (when you like to take a taxi book in advance), or go by bus (for map and transport see also the website)

Maps: How to get to UMA from airport, Map of facilitiesMap to restaurantsMap to/from hotel

Address faculty:
UMA School of Architecture, Arts Campus
Östra Strandgatan 30 C
903 33 Umeå

Hotel address:
Hotell Aveny: (10 rooms)
Rådhusesplanaden 14
903 28 Umeå
090-13 41 00
Map to/from hotel

Restaurant addresses:
Rex Bar & Grill
Rådhustorget, 903 26 Umeå

Vasagatan 1, 90329 Umeå
Map to restaurants

More information at:

Contact persons:
Roemer van Toorn: roemer.vantoorn@arch.umu.se
Hanna Ivansson: haiv0002@student.umu.se


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