works and artists

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The Phaistos Project — forty-five symbols

Pascal Glissmann, Olivier Arcioli and Andreas Henrich.        

Καστέλια,  Αρχαιολογικό μουσείο


The Phaistos Disc, which was discovered in 1908 and is thought to date to around 1700 BC, is a circular piece of fired clay stamped with forty-five distinct symbols. This code is still unresolved. It inspires the participants of The Phaistos Project — Forty-five Symbols to translate current concerns and aspects of identity — political, economic, ecological, cultural, or social issues — into collections of forty-five unique symbols. Design methodologies are used as a mode of inquiry to develop ethnographic visual narratives that are subjective, stimulating, and reflect a critical position.

Studying a time capsule from the past has the power to spark new ways of thinking. Of course, materials and devices have evolved. Today, clay is code, interfaces are fluid (and not discs) and the access to knowledge is ubiquitous through mobile devices. However: Who’s knowledge is it? Who really has access? What are the questions that emerging designers have for humankind today and which narratives are worth being preserved for future generations?

Since 2012, The Phaistos Project — Forty-five Symbols collects research-driven and self-directed observations, experiments and speculations that provide new perspectives on the way we live through the means of visual language. This growing archive offers insights into the identities of designers around the world and gives a platform to their questions and concerns.

The Phaistos Project — Forty-five Symbols Video combines more than 3000 Symbols in about ten min. They are contributed by participants from around the world including South Africa, Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Switzerland, USA, United Kingdom — to name just a few countries.

The video (in process) can be found here: