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"Image factories" // Exhibition of the German Museum of Books and Writing on tour at Potsdam University of Applied Sciences // 19 October to 14 December 2018

The conference focuses on interdisciplinary practices in information design and data visualisation. In this highly topical context, the exhibition helps shed light on the historical derivations of infographics and economies of perception. It presents solutions developed at the beginning of the 20th century – in the face of a hitherto unknown flood of information and globalisation of knowledge – to disseminate information by means of images.

The touring exhibition can be viewed on the campus of Potsdam University of Applied Sciences until 14 December. It is an extract from the exhibition that was on display at the German Museum of Books and Writing earlier this year.

About the exhibition

Emerging from different traditions, the Austrian economist Otto Neurath, who became a museum director in Leipzig in 1918, and the physician Fritz Kahn, born in Halle, almost simultaneously developed abstract imageries based on a formal stylisation of the human body.

While Neurath's concept of the "isotype" (International System of Typographic Picture Education) developed pictogram-like graphics as tokens of social realities, Kahn's "factories of the human body" yielded mechanistic process diagrams in which man becomes an "industrial palace".
Following Otto Neurath's motto of "words divide, images unite", infographics as non-linguistic pictographs are still transporting complex information concisely in eye-catching forms and colours. In this respect, the exhibition is contributing to the current debate on new forms of information economy by focussing on the historical positions of Otto Neurath and Fritz Kahn.

Its exhibits include not only publications from the rich holdings of the German National Library, but also unique objects from the German Museum of Books and Writing of the German National Library and from US and British archives. (Photo: tecton/Julia Nitsche)

The exhibition was organised in cooperation with the University of Erfurt and received financial support from the German Federal Cultural Foundation.

Information and contact

Opening hours

Monday to Friday 11:00–16:00


Free admission


Potsdam University of Applied Sciences, Main Building
Kiepenheuerallee 5
14469 Potsdam

Last update: 26.10.2018

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