The Logo

The Media City Seoul 2010 logo deconstructed

We know a lot of people are baffled by the exhibition’s amoebic logo, which can look more like a cotton candy advertisement than one for a major media art biennial.  Understandable.  Here we’ll simplify it as best we can, revealing the method behind the mess.

Designed by Studio Lambl/Homburger in Berlin, the logo’s guiding principle takes a page from Japanese-American graphic designer and current President of RISD John Maeda‘s 2006 book, Laws of Simplicity: “Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.”

With this in mind, Studio Lambl/Homburger created a unique way to simply express the complexities associated with media art and the curatorial concept for this year’s biennial.  They began with the city of Seoul itself–drawing on the biennial’s name of Media City Seoul–as the basis for their concept.

courtesy Studio Lambl/Homburger

Taking the silhouette of the city limits, which has a dynamic and striking outline, they applied programming language “processing,” applying pixelation as a visual manifestation of the notion of media art.

courtesy Studio Lambl/Homburger

This pixelation finds a visual parallel in the QR (Quick Response) matrix barcodes, originally developed by Toyota in Japan for tracking parts in vehicle manufacturing and now ubiquitously employed throughout east Asia and other tech-equipped parts of the world for mobile tagging.  Thus, when one scans the code into a digital device, a wealth of information tagged with the code can be instantly accessed for immediate use.

QR code for Media City Seoul 2010

Taking their media art interpretation one step farther, Studio Lambl/Homburger appropriated the RGB color range based on the nineteenth century Young-Helmholtz trichromatic theory of color vision and additive color and James Clerk Maxwell’s subsequent development of the color triangle.  This approach to color, which was adopted by Scottish television pioneer John Logie Baird and resulted in the world’s first color broadcast in 1938, was patented by Werner Flechsig in his RBG shadow mask technology, one of two fundamental technologies behind production of cathode ray tube color televisions and computer monitors.

courtesy Studio Lambl/Homburger

Studio Lambl/Homburger then applied this historical quotation to their existing pixelated image of Seoul, resulting in an RGB-display representation of the “Media City.”

courtesy Studio Lambl/Homburger

The last step in arriving at a final design was to reproduce this outline five times, representing the five previous editions of the biennial, incorporating the past and the present in one cohesive image.

courtesy Studio Lambl/Homburger

So what would Mr. Maeda say about the logo?  We’re not sure … but we’re guessing that with our breakdown of the concept and execution, he would probably be a bit more receptive than without it.


One Response to “The Logo”


  1. EXPLAINED: Logo for Media City Seoul 2010 « Media City Seoul 2010 – Trust - August 25, 2010

    […] The Logo […]

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