Media Magazine

Twitter, Graphics and the Search for a Universal Language

Posted on the 20 November 2012 by Themarioblog @garciainteract

Twitter, graphics and the search for a universal language
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TAKEAWAY: Mario Tascón does not let those 140 characters Twitter limits us to intimidate him: the Spanish designer and media strategist is creating a new form of art via what he calls Twittergrafia Take a look here.

Meet Mario Tascón : the man behiind the Twittergrafias

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Lines: Mario Tascón tells me that these are an intepretation from the Latin: “Nulla dies sine linea”—“we must do something eveyrday; we must train; we must write. Even in a crisis like we have in Spain, we must not let despair stop us.  Sometimes I put the lines there as if in a lined notebook, to inspire people to write what they want on the lines….“

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Use of italics

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Soup of letters

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Sea of facts

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Spain is the new Greek tragedy

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You’ve Got Mail

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Think Twitter and we see those very limited 140 characters dancing on the screen, with the speed and precision of the Rockettes, and often reminding us that we are over -8 characters or -18, which means it is time to rethink that sentence, to rewrite the message and to edit those surplus words.

Enter Mario Tascón , one of Spain’s most gifted and best known media designers, and his concept of what he calls Twittergrafia, the art of graphic storytelling within the confines of Twitter’s precise and limited canvas.

Mario is well known for his innovative and goundbreaking work in the field of media design, especially his work with Spain’s innovativeEl Mundo newspaper.  His work has won international and national awards and has appeared as examples in a variety of magazines, textbooks, and, of course, in lectures and seminars.

But, today, Mario Tascón seems to having fun with this new medium.

I try to tell stories in every way I can,“he says. “But everything I do in Twitter is , in a sense, experimental because, as you well know, it is quite difficult to take advantage of what one can do with only 140 characters, without multi media, without typography.“

Yet, Mario manages to tell little stories, as we see in the illustrations here.

A few years ago it occurred to me that I should investigate this new medium called Twitter and its expressive possibilities, so I began to experiment, limiting myself to what I know Twitter can do within the unicode international standards.

So, I began to create messages modifying letters, adding icons (the few that Unicode allows), or approximating Twitter Art or Art 140, although I do fewer of those,“he said.

Primarily, says Mario, he is interested in the culture of the remix and of modification.

We have a selection of Mario’s Twittergrafias here, some of which are based on specific news events, so they may appear a bit out of context, but they do give you an idea of what can be done if one thinks beyond the 140 characters of Twitter as mere letters.

Three questions for Mario Tascón

Mario Garcia:

What inspires you? I notice that Spain is a constant muse in your Twittergrafias?

I am inspired by all that takes place around me, like the situation for the people of Spain today, as well as other countries, and the historical changes we see around us, but I also want to make people think for a few seconds.

Mario Garcia:

I see a future for this type of graphic thinking on Tweeter. Why should we limit ourselves to just letters in those 140 characters, when we can tell visual stories? You pave the way for us, Mario. What is the biggest challenge to do this?

Mario Tascón

What I do is much inspired by Neurath and his dream of a universal language (like all designers, right?), also by the visual poetry of Joan Brossa.  The idea is to get the most from limited resources and to try to make communication universal.

Mario Garcia:

How frequently do you post these Twittergrafias?

Mario Tascón

I have been doing them for about two years now. What I do is to sprinkle them among my more normal and professional Tweets.

About Mario Tascón

Ask Mario Tascón what he does today and his answer is typical of someone who lives in Spain:

I do what I can

He is a partner/principal in Prodigioso Volcan (Prodigious Volcano), a consulting firm devoted to strategic planning, information architecture and new media design. Mario has been a director for digital media for the Prisa Group, but it was his long and successful career from 1989 to 2000 at El Mundo, one of Spain’s leading dailies, that made him a well known name and frequent speaker at conferences worldwide. The author of two books: Twittergrafia and Ciberactivismo, Mario is an associate professor at the University of Navarra, in Pamplona.

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27 November
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29 November
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