The Olympic Rings as a Point of Reflection

Monday, July 30, 2012 - 9:00 am

The Olympic Rings as a Point of Reflection

The five interlaced rings of the Olympic flag — blue, yellow, black, green, and red — Pierre De Coubertin said in 1931, represent “the five inhabited continents of the world, united by Olympism.” No continent (now region) is assigned a specific color. Perhaps that’s why graphic designer Gustavo Sousa intentionally chose not to provide a legend or key for the illustrations above.
In his illustrations, Mr. Sousa assigns each color of the Olympic rings to a specific continent and then pairs it with a variety of data sets: obesity, gun ownership, McDonald’s outlets, population, homicides, people living with HIV, military expenditures, Facebook users, number of Catholic priests, percentage of homes with televisions, to name a few. He requires the viewer to ponder, to reflect, to think, to make sense of the information.
As Mr. Sousa explained to Fast Company, “The rings represent healthy competition and union, but we know the world isn’t perfect. Maybe understanding the differences is the first step to try to make things more equal.”
Child Mortality Paired with the Olympic Rings

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is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as chief content officer and executive editor. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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