Understanding Humans

Understanding Humans is an educational set of booklets and flashcards that describe universal human concepts to nonhumans. The materials are produced by the Council on Interspecies Understanding, which facilitates interaction between mankind and emerging sentient animals on Earth. CISU presents the breadth of human life (good, bad, individual, and collective) in a visual language which a highly evolved animal could understand.

This improves upon the Golden Record and Arecibo Message, which are lopsided in their portrayal of mankind, and unlikely to be understood by their intended audience (extraterrestrials).

The universal concepts (Beauty, Sacrifice, Fire, Hero, Civilization, Deluge, Dissatisfaction, Unbelonging, and Unknown) derive from common human mythologies. The nine booklets which describe these concepts form a map of related ideas.

The colors red, black, and yellow are used by patterned animals for their high contrast, and are the first colors named when human languages develop. The wide-set eyes of the illustrated figures correspond to prey or pacifist personality, while centered triangular eyes represent predator and aggression.

Red, black, and yellow illustration represents the universal, while expressive painting and handwriting represent human individuality.

Expressive flashcards introduce human emotions, thoughts, and questions. They also demonstrate how humans associate color and meaning.

CISU Brand

The CISU brand employs a core "universal" visual language, and an expressive visual language, which is seen in the Understanding Humans. The universal language uses Work Sans and humanist Arno Pro for an authoritative, educational, but friendly and inclusive brand personality.

The CISU logo represents the institutionality united by the hand-written "IS" for interspecies.

The CISU flag symbolizes the light of education replacing animosity between predator and prey.

Below are CISU posters for an awareness campaign, featuring the slogan Education and Empathy for All. Symbolic imagery with limited copy caters to a low-literacy audience.

Political Context

This video juxtaposes images of human war, death, and animals with nonhuman vocalizations to explore the emotional climate that would exist in CISU's world.

As part of research, I created political pamphlets for the groups which support and oppose CISU, to better understand the world in which these sentient animals exist. Note that the views expressed are fictional and reflect typical nationalist and progressive thinking.