Learning To See

Learning To See: Otto Neurath’s Visual Autobiography, Intellect.
English, August 2021.

This chapter examines the modalities of seeing presented in Otto Neurath’s posthumous text From Hieroglyphics to Isotype, A Visual Autobiography. The analysis focuses on three topics set out in the Autobiography: the experiences of seeing, visual education and the democratization of knowledge. Georges Didi-Huberman’s conceptual distinction, prendre position/ prendre parti [‘taking position/taking sides’], frames the present examination, allowing the tensions in the act of seeing that the Autobiography presents to be revealed. By situating it in relation to contemporary studies on visuality and knowledge, an introductory reflection is offered on the ways in which architecture continues to activate one of Neurath’s most problematic thesis, namely, the relationship between graphic language and an aspiration to enhance democratic societies, and, lastly, Harun Farocki’s video-installation Deep Play is considered as realigning the difference between taking position and taking sides; a decisive difference when thinking about the political and the visual in architecture.