15:00 - 16:40
Session: S47
[Behaviour and Cognition] + Design
From pictorial statistics to pictographic animation: Philip Ragan’s investigation of pictographic animation to dramatize facts (1934-1946)
Isotype; Pictograms; Animation; Philip Ragan; Design History
Hisayasu IHARA

In the 1930s, Isotype became popular as a unique method of using pictograms for pictorial statistics, prompting many similar efforts. Among the influences of Isotype before, during and after World War II, this study highlights the use of pictograms inanimation, specifically the work of architect Philip Ragan, to elucidate a previously unknown aspect of pictogram animation history. In around 1934, Ragan, inspired by Isotype, began creating pictorial statistics but later endeavoured to animate pictographic diagrams. From 1941, he produced about 30 propaganda movies—mainly short films—for the National Film Board of Canada; nevertheless, he began to make longer ones as the war ended. For this purpose, he used not only pictograms but also live-action images, a style that would become the hallmark of his post-war work, which significantly differs from the Isotype animation, which was almost exclusively produced as a form inserted into documentary film. Ragan’s work was a unique development of the ‘dramatization of facts’, combining pictogram-based graphic techniques inspired by Isotype, a product of the European Modernism, with the North American culture of entertainment animation. Its historical position can also be that of a notable experiment in the possibilities and limitations of pictogram-based animation, which was developed amidst several socio-political events such as the New Deal, war propaganda, the scientists’ campaign to control the atomic bomb and the anti-communist propaganda of the Cold War