Posts tagged ‘Symbol’

September 27, 2016


manet bass

A logo is a graphic mark, emblem, or symbol commonly used by commercial enterprises, organizations and even individuals to aid and promote instant public recognition. Logos are either purely graphic (symbols/icons) or are composed of the name of the organization (a ‘logotype’ or ‘wordmark’).

In the days of hot metal typesetting, a logotype was one word cast as a single piece of type, e.g. ‘The’ (as opposed to a ‘ligature,’ which is two or more letters joined, but not forming a word). By extension, the term was also used for a uniquely set and arranged typeface or colophon (a brief description of the manuscript or book to which it is attached). At the level of mass communication and in common usage, a company’s logo is today often synonymous with its trademark or brand.

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August 4, 2015


sefer raziel hamalakh

lesser key of solomon

A sigil [sij-il] is a symbol used in magic. The term has usually referred to a type of pictorial signature of a demon or other supernatural entity; in modern usage, especially in the context of chaos magic (a postmodern magical tradition which emphasizes the pragmatic use of belief systems), it refers to a symbolic representation of the magician’s desired outcome.

The term derives from the Latin ‘sigillum,’ meaning ‘seal,’ though it may also be related to the Hebrew word ‘segula’ meaning ‘word, action, or item of spiritual effect, talisman.’ The current use of the term is derived from Renaissance magic (a resurgence in hermeticism and Neo-Platonic varieties of ceremonial magic in the 15th and 16th centuries), which was in turn inspired by the magical traditions of antiquity.

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April 2, 2014


Ichthys [ik-thees], from the Koine Greek word for fish, is a symbol consisting of two intersecting arcs, the ends of the right side extending beyond the meeting point so as to resemble the profile of a fish, used by early Christians as a secret Christian symbol and now known colloquially as the ‘sign of the fish’ or the ‘Jesus fish.’

It is sometimes a subject of satire, especially when adorning the bumpers or trunks of automobiles. The most notable is the ‘Darwin Fish,’ an ichthys symbol with ‘evolved’ legs and feet attached. Rhetorical scholar Thomas Lessl conducted a survey of users of the Darwin fish emblem. Based on their responses, he interprets the symbol as scientific ‘blackface,’ a parody that is one part mockery and one part imitation. While users frequently explain the symbol as a rebuke against Creationism, Lessl suggests that the emblem represents a metaphor for cultural progress.

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March 5, 2014


Book from the Ground

Laundry symbols

Pictograms [pik-tuh-gram] are small images that convey their meaning through a pictorial resemblance to a physical object. Early written symbols were based on pictograms (pictures which resemble what they signify) and ideograms (symbols which represent ideas). Ancient Sumerian, Egyptian, and Chinese civilizations developed them into logographic (word-based) writing systems including cuneiform and hieroglyphics, which also uses drawings as phonetic letters or determinative rhymes.

Pictograms are still in use as the main medium of written communication in some non-literate cultures in Africa, the Americas, and Oceania. In certain modern use, pictograms participate to a formal language (e.g. hazards pictograms such as the skull and crossbones, a common warning for poison). Pictograms have also been popularized in use on the web and in software, better known as ‘icons’ displayed on a computer screen in order to help user navigate a computer system or mobile device.

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August 18, 2013

Yellow Arrow

Yellow Arrow is a public art project that was active from 2004-2006 and was created by Christopher Allen, Brian House, and Jesse Shapins, collectively known as Counts Media. The project was an important example of locative media and mobile phone art and draws concepts from psychogeography (emphasizing playfulness and ‘drifting’ around urban environments).

Yellow Arrow stickers were obtained from the project website and placed anywhere in the public realm. When encountering a sticker on the street, individuals could send the unique code printed on it as a text message to the project phone number. Moments later a message would be received that was left by the person who placed the sticker.

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December 7, 2011



Blissymbols or Blissymbolics was conceived as an ideographic writing system called Semantography consisting of several hundred basic symbols, each representing a concept, which can be composed together to generate new symbols that represent new concepts. Blissymbols differ from most of the world’s major writing systems in that the characters do not correspond at all to the sounds of any spoken language.

Blissymbols were invented by Charles K. Bliss (1897–1985), born Karl Kasiel Blitz in the Austro-Hungarian city of Czernowitz (in what is now Ukraine), which had a mixture of different nationalities that ‘hated each other, mainly because they spoke and thought in different languages.’ Bliss graduated as a chemical engineer at the Vienna University of Technology, and joined an electronics company as a research chemist. When the German Army invaded Austria in 1938, he was sent to the concentration camps of Dachau and Buchenbald. His German wife Claire managed to get him released, and they finally became exiles in Shanghai, where Bliss had relatives.

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December 7, 2011


the road not taken

iConji is a free pictographic communication system based on an open, visual vocabulary of characters with built-in translations for most major languages. The app debuted with 1183 unique characters, known as the lexiConji (vocabulary), culled from base words used in common daily communications, word frequency lists, often-used mathematical and logical symbols, punctuation symbols, and the flags of all nations.

The process of assembling a message from iConji characters is called iConjisation. Since most characters represent an entire word or concept, rather than a single letter or character, iConji has the potential to be a more efficient communication system than SMS (texting). The usual jumble of text and confusing abbreviations can often be replaced by a short string of colorful icons that convey the identical meaning.

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December 7, 2011


poop emoji

Emoji [ih-moh-jee] is the Japanese term for the picture characters or emoticons used in Japanese electronic messages and webpages. Originally meaning pictograph, the word literally means ‘e’ (‘picture) ‘moji’ (‘letter’). The characters are used much like emoticons elsewhere, but a wider range is provided, and the icons are standardized and built into mobile devices. Some emoji are very specific to Japanese culture, such as a bowing (apologizing) businessman, a face wearing a face mask, or a group of emoji representing popular foods (e.g. ramen noodles, rice balls). The three main Japanese phone operators, NTT DoCoMo, au, and SoftBank Mobile (formerly Vodafone), have each defined their own variants of emoji.

Although typically only available in Japan, the characters and code required to use emoji are, thanks to the nature of software development, often present in many phones’ software. As a result, some phones, such as the Apple iPhone, allow access to the symbols without requiring a Japanese operator. Emoji have also started appearing in emailing services such as Gmail (accessed via Google Labs) in 2009.

August 15, 2011



A smiley, or happy face, is a stylized representation of a smiling human face. It is commonly represented as a yellow circle with two black dots representing eyes and a black arc representing the mouth. ‘Smiley’ is also sometimes used as a generic term for any emoticon (a facial expression pictorially represented by punctuation and letters, usually to express a writer’s mood).

The first unhappy face recorded on film can be seen in Ingmar Bergman’s 1948 film ‘Hamnstad.’ Later on, in 1953 and 1958, the happy face was used in promotional campaigns for motion pictures ‘Lili’ and ‘Gigi’, respectively.

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March 22, 2011

Biker Cross

The Biker Cross is a derivative of the Iron Cross (a Prussian, and later German, military decoration). Bikers started to display the Iron Cross in the mid 1960’s with the advent of outlaw biker gangs. Originally bikers displayed the Iron Cross as a symbol of rebellion to society in general.

Today it is also worn to signify honor, valor, strength and ‘standing up for what you believe.’ Hot rodders (American car customizers) and others also use it as a provocative gesture to offend the public, or as a symbol of rebellion or non-conformity.

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March 10, 2011

Arm & Hammer

arm and hammer


Arm & Hammer is a registered trademark of Church and Dwight, an American manufacturer of household products. The logo of this brand is a muscular arm holding a hammer. Originally associated only with baking soda and washing soda, beginning in the 1970s the company began to expand the brand to other products using baking soda as a deodorizing ingredient, including toothpaste, laundry detergent, underarm deodorant, and cat litter. The Arm & Hammer brand is one of the longest-running and most recognized U.S. trademarks.

The Arm & Hammer logo dates back to the 1860s. James A. Church ran a spice business known as Vulcan Spice Mills. According to the company, the Arm and Hammer logo represents Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and metalworking. Originally a stylized representation of the Greek god of fire and forge, the muscular male arm with hammer in fist was used prior to the American Civil War as a symbol of the labor movement.

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March 6, 2011


Warchalking is the drawing of symbols in public places to advertise an open Wi-Fi wireless network. Inspired by hobo symbols, the warchalking marks were conceived by a group of friends in June 2002 and publicized by Matt Jones who designed the set of icons and produced a downloadable document containing them. Having found a Wi-Fi node, the warchalker draws a special symbol on a nearby object, such as a wall, the pavement, or a lamp post. Those offering Wi-Fi service might also draw such a symbol to advertise the availability of their Wi-Fi location, whether commercial or personal.

The word is formed by analogy to wardriving, the practice of driving around an area in a car to detect open Wi-Fi nodes. That term in turn is based on wardialing, the practice of dialing many phone numbers hoping to find a modem.