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Lizard Dreams

Playing with Peter Stoyko's SystemViz Iconography


I have been playing with Peter Stoyko's SystemViz iconography.

SystemViz is a research project by Peter Stoyko exploring how visuals can enhance systems thinking, especially as it relates to inter-disciplinary, collaborative design. Findings are expressed as visual codexes and other applied tools.

It has six types of icons. The type is signified by the outer shape of the icon.






The specifics are defined by what is inside the shape. There are about a hundred and seventy-something icons in total. It is a very useful visual vocabulary, but it has a bit of a learning curve.

I have been experimenting with cutting stencils of the images for spray paint, making a cardboard quilt with the blocks. Here is a selection of some of the most aspirational icons:

  • Cross-Pollination, "aspects of two or more objects are combined to create a hybrid."
  • Liminality, "moving into space between domain boundaries."
  • Feed-Forward, "information about an impending action is sent out ahead of time in time to cause a response."
  • Support Structure, "constructed supports ... that enable activity."
  • Complementarity, "different actors or objects are able to do more together."
  • Anticipation, "an imagined future or scenario."
  • Criticality, "the threshold beyond which a dynamic becomes self-sustaining."
  • Symmathesy, "simultaneous contextual learning or influence between entities through mutual exposure" and
  • Emergence, "a characteristic or function that comes into being without direction; multiple objects have qualities the parts alone do not have."

I am using a Cricut Maker to cut these stencils. Symmathesy is a term coined by Norah Bateson.

The blocks are Montana Cans spray paint on pizza boxes. (We ate a lot of pizza during quarantine.)



I was looking through the extensive collection of Boundaries and realized I couldn't find one for gender discrimination, which is definitely a systemic kind of boundary. So I made one in Illustrator. There should probably be one or more for racism. I'm not sure how to signify that within the constraints of the black-and-white icon design.


Glass Ceiling 3-Rev

I'll probably paint it today.  Here it is painted.