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Comments (1) Posted 12.15.11 | PERMALINK | PRINT

Rob Walker

Anonymous Identity (Seen and Heard)


Occupy Hope, Shepard Fairey

In the most recent Radiolab podcast, Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich chat with Roman Mars about his  99% Invisible podcast. The episodes shared and discussed are about sound design for gadgetry; an interesting street artist; and the work of Nicholas Felton. It's a good introduction to this "tiny radio show about design," which I like quite a bit. (Perhaps you've noticed the link to 99% Invisible in my blogroll at right?)

At one point in the Radiolab conversation, Mars summarizes his mission as simply to get listeners "to notice more things." That sounds modest, but obviously it's a mission I endorse, because my own goals are often similar. Previously I've written here about the Google Maps pin and the waveform as "stealth icongraphy," for instance. Another example might be the visual identity of Anonymous: Despite being a kind of non-organization, its logo and its hijacking of the Guy Fawkes mask from V for Vendetta have established a familiarity-through-symbols that many multimillion-dollar brands and richly funded political campaigns would kill for.

For instance, it's a real tribute to the power of the Fawkes mask to see it adapted by Shepard Fairey (who knows a thing or two about iconic power), above. I wonder how many people these days associate the Fawkes mask exclusively with Occupy Wall Street, and don't realize its Anonymous roots? And below: An image of the Anonymous logo evidently left for a time on a Syrian government Web site. I was already interested in the logo when this happened, but I found it pretty astounding, and it's part of what motivated me to find out what I could about how this set of images came together to represent Anonymous.



Anonymous logo on (hacked) Syrian government website, via The Next Web

I wrote about this subject recently on Slate, but I bring it up here because I also had the highly interesting experience of converting that reporting/observation into an audio piece — for an  episode of 99% Invisible.

So if you've never checked the show out, here is your chance:

99% Invisible-42- Recognizably Anonymous by Roman Mars






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Shepard must be a remarkably naive designer, as iconic as his work is, first we have the Obama poster for a man who was never going to bring about any real 'change' and now we have the pathetic tagline 'Mr.President we hope you're on our side', I mean come on, as if the president on the richest Capitalist nation on Earth is ever going to be on the side of the peopleā€¦
noel douglas
12.25.11 at 08:00



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Rob Walker is a technology/culture columnist for Yahoo News. He is the former Consumed columnist for The New York Times Magazine, and has contributed to many publications. He is co-editor (with Joshua Glenn) of the book Significant Objects: 100 Extraordinary Stories About Ordinary Things, and author of Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are
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