This Google Designer Thinks in Circles

Manuel Lima chronicles humanity’s interest in all things round.

If there is a universal building block, it’s probably round. In The Book of Circles: Visualizing Spheres of Knowledge (Princeton Architectural Press), out this month, data visualization designer Manuel Lima shows how the circle has influenced human cognition. The book depicts hundreds of drawings, renderings, and other spherical imagery conceived over thousands of years, and the selection is, to say the least, wide-ranging. Transcending chronology, subject matter, and historical context in general, Lima categorizes the evidence according to a broader graphic typology (e.g., “Rings & Spirals;” “Wheels & Pies”). Prehistoric petroglyphs are presented alongside renaissance maps and computer-generated images. Through these juxtapositions Lima positions circles as the fundamental vessels for human knowledge. One would think that the Large Hadron Collider and the Basilica of Superga couldn’t be further apart—before seeing the bigger picture.

Photo courtesy Princeton Architectural Press
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