Work from Wikileaks design proposals.

“What image comes to mind when you think of Wiki­Leaks? Some see it as heroic, others as destructive. Either way, the release of formerly classified documents and diplomatic cables over the last six months have helped transform the site and its founder, Julian Assange, into known entities. But while thinking of Apple or Facebook or even the 2008 Obama campaign calls up certain aesthetic associations or shorthand imagery, WikiLeaks mostly brings to mind the image of Assange’s wan face and silver hair. Perhaps, as Daniel van der Velden of the design studio Metahaven argues, WikiLeaks ought to re-evaluate its “visual identity.” “Does it matter what it looks like?” he asked in a talk sponsored by the Graphic Design Museum in the Netherlands. “Maybe it does.”…

The designers have put forth a range of possible visuals. These include a drip shape, representing a leaked bit of information. They’ve explored WikiLeaks as a Petri dish, where reactions are created. They’ve created a visual map of its information-distribution “architecture” and also considered the ways that the current globe logo might be extended. More tangibly, the designers have begun releasing (or “leaking”) a series of 193 pro-WikiLeaks posters on its site, in a plain and stark style, one for every country, pushing the idea that you can support WikiLeaks from anywhere in the world.

As the publication Design Observer noted, this thinking-out-loud approach can be frustrating. But it makes a certain amount of sense that this particular visual identity should be explored in an unusually transparent way. Perhaps it will result in constructive, far-flung feedback. Besides, Metahaven’s relationship to WikiLeaks is, to put it mildly, unusual. The designers approached WikiLeaks in June with an offer to update its graphic identity, via e-mail. “Absolutely. Go for it!” came the reply, according to Metahaven. “We have a shortage of such things. . . . J. A.” As WikiLeaks controversies have ratcheted up since then, simply keeping the site operational has become a serious challenge, as have further e-mail discussions. So as van der Velden points out, WikiLeaks isn’t really a “client,” but rather something like the subject of a public, and wholly voluntary, research project.” – Branding Transparency, Rob Walker, New York Times


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