Orwell fans may be familiar with the term “Newspeak,” a sort of simplified English that the totalitarian government used to constrict freedom. “Newspeak” works by removing words associated with freedom & rebellion entirely from the language. Graphic artist Mark McGinnis has aimed to remove as many words as possible from his imagery for another reason: to express what our own government often obscures from us through icons. This art book is the first in a series of artist profiles from Front Forty Press.
McGinnis’s icons seek to “demystify a public discourse” on topics ranging from our politics to energy and obesity in America. Much of his commentary targets the Bush administration, during which George W. “attempted to conceal certain facts and sugarcoat others by way of euphemisms and rigid classifications”. Through images, McGinnis sought to encourage discussion of the topics that were often circumvented by government officials and the president, to reevaluate our views. And in order to prevent his graphics from falling into that same trap of oversimplification, McGinnis plays with their forms, reinventing and subverting older images to keep his work fresh and relevant.