Waves made by sound. Fox tracks. Events in the natural world create patterns, specific and literal. The designer works to distill meaning from events in the life of the mind. A trail of symbols and systems forms in the wake of her work. Examine first the imprint of the fox’s running foot, the coarse displacement of the snow. Then the eye encounters the structure of the individual flakes of snow, the blue shadows, the scintillating light. Design evokes the radiance of meanings in which it participates.
What is the meaning of color? Of a point, a line, or a plane? Of a vortex, a fractal, any sort of radial pattern? With no evidence other than the personal and anecdotal, I believe the human race is increasingly thinking in visual ways, and that persons of the highest visual evolution are increasingly able to recognize and describe common design patterns. We’ve seen this happen in many disciplines over the past few decades: art, architecture, urban planning, and programming being a few. Of course no one can argue that we daily absorb and act on great richness of visual information.
As human beings, we are naturally language makers. It makes sense that as we are beginning to communicate in a more global way, and that we are developing a language to do so. This language consists of universals, whether arbitrary or natural, of structure and form, which when completed will provide a vehicle for communicating and manipulating meaning. That this language is primarily visual also makes sense, for it derives from visual experience.
The syntax of visual language, when worked out, will be as deceptively simple as the rules which govern the flight of birds, or the workings of our dopamine cells which, it is theorized, increase or decrease their firing rates in response to errors in predictions about the world around us, predictions based on metaphorical information input to the brain: sensory input and memories of sensory states.
Yet because the radial reciprocity of the code is so complex, we haven’t yet drilled down to the matrix of energy states which underly visual phenomenon. Art and psychology, physics and metaphysics all have their theories; what we’re lacking is a Unified Field Theory of graphical/textual communication.