no.27 vol.7 spring 1998

The following list was originally drawn up in 1964 for a seminar at the Hochschule für Gestaltung, Ulm, based on the semiotic work of Thomas Maldonado.
Gui Bonsiepe

List of visual/verbal figures:

A verbal comparison is transferred to the visual sphere with equivalent semantic signs.

A meaning indicated verbally is related to another meaning, based on a thematic connection; e.g. cause instead of effect, instrument instead of result, producer instead of product.

Synecdote (pars pro toto)
A part indicating the whole.

A visual sign is accompanied by a minimum of text, in order to make it clear and narrow it down semanticaly. Often a firm name is used to indicate the product.

A visual sign is incorporated in a 'Supersign' by virtue of its formal qualities. The syntactic linking suggests a semantic link.

Visual and verbal signs relate to the same meaning.

Associative transfer (link) or mediation
From a number of verbal signs, one is selected to illustrate the ideas it is associated with (associative context).

Metaphoric reversal
The tension between primary and secundary meaning is utilized so that the visual signs show the original meaning, taking it literally, so to speak.

The meaning of typographic signs is illustrated by these signs. The text is quasi short-circuited with the typographical signs.

A verbal understatement is made visual.

Meaning is visualised through signs, the contents of which exceed the usual measure.

Visual-verbal negation
The meaning of a sequence of words is illustrated by its visual opposite.

Visual-verbal comparison
Two meanings are compared visually through verbal mediation.

Meaning indicated verbally is illustrated visually.

(from:Gui Bonsiepe, 'Interface - an approach to design', Jan van Eyck, 1997)

max bruinsma