Abstract “The Phaistos Project — Forty-five Symbols”

I will introduce a cross-cultural, international project that started as a collaboration of six art & design schools in 2012 and is still ongoing: The Phaistos Project — Forty-five Symbols (www.45symbols.com).

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 — political, economic, ecological, cultural, or social challenges — 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.

We believe that 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?

Pascal Glissmann, Parsons The New School for Design

About Andreas Kohli

Andreas Kohli is an art teacher and designer and works as a lecturer and project manager at the Zurich University of the Arts. He teaches mainly in the Bachelor of Arts Education at the Department of Cultural Analysis. His teaching activities focus on the characteristics of perception of reality and its medial representation, on social issues and their effects on visual and pedagogical work, on transculturality and on methods of artistic practice. One of the main interests relates to the current processes of change in urban development and urban life. Additional topics are the development of teaching materials and e-learning content. He has led numerous cultural projects in Europe and South Africa and initiated projects in collaboration with Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong Baptist University and Aalto University, Helsinki.

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