The Language of Legos

Rachel Lovinger   September 20, 2010

A New York moment. (Image via Niemann)

Yesterday I was looking at a book by Christoph Niemann called “I Lego N. Y.,” which I had seen in digital form in this New York Times blog post of the same name. It’s a very short book – only 32 pages, with an image on each page, most of which are taken directly from that post. As I flipped back and forth through the pages, I grew increasingly delighted at the whimsical and uber-efficient messages communicated by each photograph.

With a nod to Melissa Rach, who recently encouraged people to practice content strategy by observing it everywhere, I marveled at the things Niemann managed to convey using this elegant and artful approach. Choosing the blunt palette of Legos gives him a pretty limited set of shapes and colors to work with. Even within the available spectrum, he keeps the constructed pieces extremely minimal. He brings these vague objects into sharp relief by roughly sketching words or phrases onto the images, and sometimes by juxtaposing several pieces to create a meaningful relationship.

There’s no reason that a blue block with an orange bit should read as a Mets cap, but when placed with a similar black block with a white bit, under the scrawled heading “Subway Series,” the tiny shapes clearly become two baseball caps from nearby rival teams. By adding a little bit of verbal and spatial context, Niemann amplifies our natural pattern recognition abilities in ways that surprise and amuse us. The resulting images can be charming, hilarious, or even gross (see the one that starts “Stepped in bubble gum”). It’s a great lesson in saying more with less, and doing it with humor.


One Response

  1. Anna Cook says:

    Great analogy. Reminds me of the artist that illustrates celebrities using only a few pixels. It’s amazing how fast you can recognise the character with only a few clues

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