Only since the invention of a strong enough microscope in the 1930s do we know how what viruses actually look like. But also However, before we got to knew the real appearances of viruses, there were different representations of them. Regardless of different cultures and eras, recurring images, metaphors and symbolism can be identified. Most of the representations seem to be based on two experiences: First the experience of the disease itself, which was associated with pain, death and evil. So the virus morphes into a sneaky devil who comes to take your life and has to be fought. And second, the emotionality occurring from already culturally manifested images of evil were partially used to convey the danger of a virus in a propagandistic way – which is also mirrored in typefaces of headlines. The title "Faces of Evil" can be read in two ways. On one hand, it refers to the faces seen in the illustrations. On the other hand, it refers to the "(Type)faces of Evil", the typographic form of representation in the context of the virus.
The project is a collage of the visual representations of different viruses across different cultures and in different eras. It is the result of the question of how to find a way to make scientific or historical information more approachable and therefore more accessible. It should serve as a first point of contact to get to know the „evil“ faces of viruses in an interactive way:
By cropping the illustrations and typography, the images are decontextualized and the focus is placed on the pure visualization. By juxtaposing the individual representations, they can be compared and thus parallels between the visual representations can be seen more easily. This method facilitates the understanding of the different communication strategies and narratives: Seeing what is going on behind the faces of evil.
„Typhoid Mary - The Extraordinary Predicament of Mary Mallon, a Prisoner on New York‘s Quarantine Hospital.“ New York American, June 30, 1907
„Typhoid Fever: A Disease That Can Be Prevented“ Virginia Health Bulletin vol. 1, #3, September 1908
Courtesy New York City Municipal Archives
Japanese Department of Health, Ministry of Home Affairs, 1922
Halt the Epidemic! poster, George F. Tyler poster collection, Temple University Libraries, 1918
Los Angeles Times, October 14, 1918
„Know Your Enemy. The Flea.“ (Reeve 088266-13), National Museum of Health and Medicine
From the Philadelphia Inquirer, October 7, 1918
„Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases - As Dangerous as Poison Gas Shells“. U.S. Public Health ad on dangers of Spanish Flu epidemic during World War I.
Die Karikatur „Der schwarze Tod“ von Thomas Theodor Heine erschien in der satirischen Zeitschrift „Simplizissimus“, Heft 29 vom 15. Oktober 1918. „Ich sehe es kommen: ehe ich nicht eingreife, wird die Welt von ihrem Wahnsinn nicht kuriert.“
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Animal Health Division Department Of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland, 1977
A poster displayed widely in India to promote the reward for reporting a smallpox case, depicts a hero slaying the smallpox demon with a needle | WHO, 1979
New Zealand Department of Health, 1950s