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Writings by Will Burtin

“The visual aspects of science have become increasingly part of daily experience. Our environment has been transformed by science but the scope of this basic shift finds many people unprepared. The development of a better understanding of the changed world image has been hindered greatly by an unlimited application of technology and the one-sided commercialization of all values, especially in mass communication. A majority of designs reproduced in this brochure represent a conscious intent to convey the meaning of new knowledge which scientists have gained. I have been fortunate in finding clients who were similarly concerned about this need and who sponsored designs and structures depicted here.”
Visual Aspects of Science
. Booklet.

"Assisted by urgent needs for a better understanding of complex problems in medical science and related research, and supported by a progressive manufacturer, it became possible to select themes and to design educational models of some of the more significant structures and processes of life that had been revealed by science in recent years. The primary value of such models - as well as graphic design work preceding and following them - is that they reduce the time necessary for the study and understanding of a science problem.  The secondary value is not less important than the first. It lays in the opportunity to provide a physical and optical orientation that facilitates a better grasp of the inter-relatedness of all parts that make a basic cell - for example - so important for the various chemical functions on which life and health are based."
Design Responsibility in an Age of Science, typed manuscript pp. 12-13.

"Once this overall grasp has been achieved, a student or doctor can remember the character of the whole structure in such a way that deviations from the normal - associated with disease - or the specialization of cells - for muscles, nerves, organs, skin, etc. - are understood.  On this basis, the outcome of further specialized professional study of details which come to scientists in the often confusingly specialized forms of charts, electron micrographs, direct microscopic observations, literature, x-ray diffraction photos or genetic or chemical tables, is greatly enhanced and results in increasing precision, and in real knowledge."
Design Responsibility in an Age of Science, typed manuscript, p.13

"Human imagination is limited by what we can have an image or "model" of. Such models are not necessarily related or limited to representational images in our minds. In communicating a thought we find that we have to project almost continuously images or image-related verbal symbols in order to achieve a situation in which a listener or an audience "sees" - that is - remembers - a semblance of what we project. Thereby the meaning of what we wish to be communicated can be understood."
Design Responsibility in an Age of Science, typed manuscript, p.7

"This condensation of abstract planning into concrete imagery or projected models will have far-reaching consequences for education and for the further exploration of what we can think out, explore and explain."
Design Responsibility in an Age of Science, typed manuscript, p.8

"To convey meaning, to facilitate understanding of reality and thereby help further progress, is a wonderful and challenging task for design.  The writer, scientist, painter, philosopher and the designer of visual communication in commerce, are all partners in the task of inventing the dramatic and electrifying shortcut to a more comprehensive grasp of our time." 
Burtin essay "1920-1940-1960" typed manuscript

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