Ze Frank

Performance Artist, Humorist, Web Designer

Pop!Tech 2005
30 minutes, 14mb, recorded 2005-10-20
Ze Frank

In every seatback on every airliner from every country throughout the world, there it is: the laminated safety card. Yes, these colorful works of universal illustration all answer the same basic questions – Where’s that life vest? How does the oxygen mask work? Where’s the closest exit? – but every plane and every airline has its own unique system of graphic shorthand to communicate quickly and across language barriers.

With origins in the nautical safety, the art and craft of designing infographics for airline passengers had to swiftly evolve to cover new territory – namely, potential death in a fiery crash after severe aeronautical trauma.

Ze Frank kicks off day two of Pop!Tech with his unique style and in-depth exploration of the mysterious culture surrounding of airline safety cards.

By tapping into an underground network of people who collect these cards, he analyzes examples from the early days of air travel to the extremely graphic graphics on Azerbijani Air.

Ze makes sure you'll never look at your personal floatation device the same way again! He walks us through the logic and logistics of communicating such a complex and unnerving scenario, giving us a glimpse at the awkward design decisions and harrowing storyboards confronting passengers around the world.

One topic not covered in the safety card: What to do after the life raft drifts off to sea, into the sunset, into this mad, mad world we live in.

Ze Frank is a brilliant performance artist, humorist, filmmaker, and web designer. He generally defies description - but check out www.zefrank.com to get a sense of his extraordinary talents.


This free podcast is from our Pop!Tech series.

For The Conversations Network:

  • Post-production audio engineer: Paul Figgiani
  • Website editor: Peter Durand