If you thought infographics were a new thing, think again. A highlight of the new exhibit at the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) is an infographic from 1869 that has been called the greatest infographic of all time. This one graphic alone, for my money, is worth the price of admission to this entertaining exhibit.
Drawn by French civil engineer Charles Joseph Minard, the graph shows, in fascinating detail, Napoleon’s ill-fated march to Moscow in 1812. At the outset, 422,000 men began the trek to Russia. At journey’s end, when the troops arrived back to where they had started, there were but 10,000 men.
In addition to the number of troops, Minard's graphic also illustrates, among several factors, the distance the troops traveled and the temperature at varying times on the journey,
The new exhibit, “Text Me: How We Live in Language,” on view through Feb. 4, 2018, uses the works of a number of different graphic designers to illustrate the pervasive use of language in our culture. A few highlights:
“Talking shower curtain.” OK, the curtain doesn’t talk, but the words, which cover the entire shower curtain, are addressed to the person taking a shower. “I am your shower curtain. I like you. I like to see you think your thoughts with your eyes closed.” And so it goes. Exhibit curator Debbie Millman read the entire shower curtain to a group touring the exhibit. It’s pretty funny. And, BTW, the shower curtain hangs in the women’s restroom.
Shoulda. My next favorite piece, after the aforementioned infographic, is a drawing of a sign post designed by Elle Luna. Hanging on one side of the post is the word “should,” drawn over and over again. The opposite side carries only one word, “must.” The artist explains that the “shoulds” are all the things in life that we’re told we should do. “You should never.” “You should always.” When we start living our life that way, Luna says, “we can feel it in our stomachs.” We are doing what we should rather than what we want to do. For those of us lucky enough to strike out on the “must” path – the path that our hearts and souls tell us we must do – it’s a move we must make over and over because the shoulds never go away. “You just have to keep going through it,” Luna says, and it is very rewarding when you do go down your “must” path.
Funny piece of art. To the right of some simplistic drawings in this painting is this message: “Paris bookseller looking for outdoor girl to build cabin in Northwoods. If she will cook him trout for breakfast every morning, he will tell her dog stories every night.” Doesn't that make you laugh, or at least, smile?
MODA is located in the heart of Midtown, directly across the street from the High Museum of Art. So, while you are nearby, you might want to see the exhibit opening at the High on Nov. 4. Called “’A Fire That No Water Could Put Out’: Civil Rights Photography," the exhibit takes its title from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s final speech before his assassination in 1968. The exhibition will reflect on the 50th anniversary of that tumultuous year in American history and honor the enduring legacy of Dr. King and the civil rights movement.
The more than 40 prints to be featured include iconic historical images presented alongside works by contemporary photographers.
Before or after your museum visits, consider having brunch in Midtown. And here's an idea: The next time you are looking for something fun and interesting to do on a date, visit a museum. You can talk to each other as your tour, and, afterward, out for brunch or drinks or dinner, you can discuss what you just saw. Say goodbye to awkward date conversation; say hello to interesting chit-chat.
Carol Carter writes and edits for Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.