Visual Grammar for the Pattern Illustrations

The following visual grammar was developed by Mercè M. Tarrés (Guerrilla Media Collective), from an initial graphic proposal suggested by Frederica Di Pietri and Chiara Rovescala.

  • Each illustration contains two layers of information.
  • The first layer is the sphere around which the dots and squares move,
    representing the context of commoning.
  • The dynamic layer contains the dots and squares that wrap around
    or move through the sphere, representing the subject/agent and

Layer 1: Sphere

Action takes place inside, between, and around one or more semitrans- parent spheres.

Visual Grammar / Layer 1: SphereOur sphere is the commons, shaped and represented by a dynamic texture of dots and squares: a diversity of realities, commoners par- ticipating in interdependent relationships with the world outside the commons.


  • “They are COMPLEX, ADAPTIVE, LIVING PROCESSES that gen- erate wealth and meet people’s needs.”
  • In contrast, the capitalist system (or its elements) is represented by squares without hue, gradient or texture.

Visual Grammar / Commons


Visual Grammar / Commoning - Inside / Outside


  • People devising and enacting situation- specific systems of PROVISIONING and PEER GOVERNANCE
  • Within a single commons
  • Local


  • People, things, or ideas inter- acting with the outside (e.g., the market system)
  • Among various commons
  • Global / network / federation

The sphere and the dot are abstract representations of the individual and the commons. Both are dynamic (non-static) and represented as circular. Both exist in (relational) singularity and plurality.

’I am because we are and, since we are, therefore I am.’
The individual is part of a ‘we’ — and in fact, of many ‘we’s’. The two are deeply intertwined.”

FREE, FAIR & ALIVE — Visual Grammar / Layer 1: Commoning

Layer 2: Dots and Squares, Flows and Areas


“An identity and social role that people acquire as they practice COMMONING.”


“The process through which COMMONERS participate in interdepen- dent relationships with the more than human world.”

Visual Grammar / Layer2: Communion - Individuals / Commoners

Dots and squares come together as flows and areas, suggesting spaces inside and outside the spheres.

Visual Grammar / Layer2

Flows of dots and squares represent connections, relations, directions, concrete actions, and spaces. Flows diffuse into wider areas.

Visual Grammar / Layer2

Areas of dots and squares wrap around or move through the sphere, creating dynamic shapes.

Visual Grammar — Size = diverse realities

Size = diverse realities

The size of the elements expresses different realities. Dots and squares, flows and areas behave in different manners.

Visual Grammar — Density = power

Density = power

Density is achieved by increasing the volume of the elements, overlap- ping and reducing the space between them.

Visual Grammar — Movement/shift = aliveness

Movement/shift = aliveness

“Comets” = direction. Direction is achieved through flows of dots pro- gressively decreasing in size. The “head” of the “comet” is formed by larger dots and higher density.

Visual Grammar — Organic vs. ordered configurations = Free vs. ruled activities/relations

Organic vs. ordered configurations = Free vs. ruled activities/relations

All of these elements graphically depict relational dynamics.

“Since each is constantly evolving and affected by multiple influences, the world has no singular definition or representation … It [is] a pluriverse — a diversity of living, dynamic social organisms that are conjoined by our common humanity and interdependence on other life-forms and the Earth.”

Visual Grammar — Relational Dynamics


Types of relational dynamics expressed by patterns and their graphic

Visual Grammar — Relational Dynamics

Convergent dynamics are expressed through spiral configurations.

Visual Grammar — Relational Dynamics

Analysis/reflection dynamics are expressed through concentric circles/ eye configurations.

Visual Grammar — Relational Dynamics

Making together and provisioning dynamics are expressed through braided configurations.

Visual Grammar — Relational Dynamics

Sharing/dividing-up dynamics are expressed through wave configura- tions.

Visual Grammar — Relational Dynamics

Dynamics related to love (trust, care …) are expressed through concave configurations (as a nesting/nurturing reference).



Mercè M. Tarrés, from an initial graphic proposal suggested by Frederica Di Pietri and Chiara Rovescala
Barcelona, Spain January 2019
N.B. All images © Mercè M. Tarrés, 2019, licensed under a Peer Production License ( License).