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Luftwerk & Normal, Color Code 2020, 2020.3 artist designed flags, each 5’ x 3’, woven polyester, double sided. Courtesy of the artists.

Luftwerk & Normal, SOS Color Code 2020, 2020. 3 artist designed flags, each 5’ x 3’, woven polyester, double sided. Courtesy of the artists.

SOS Color Code 2020 // Luftwerk & Normal

September 15 – November 3, 2020
USF Contemporary Art Museum façade



09/15/2020 - International Day of Democracy at USF CAM - By David Warner, DuPont Registry Tampa Bay



SOS Color Code 2020 Panel Discussion. October 1, 2020.

On September 15th, International Democracy Day, USFCAM presents SOS Color Code 2020, an exterior installation of three artist designed flags created by Chicago-based artists and designers Luftwerk and Normal. Using the universal language of Morse code and color theory, SOS Color Code 2020 transforms the international symbol of distress–S (three dots) O (three dashes) S (three dots)–into a sign of solidarity and connectedness for humanity. In partnership with other participating sites in Chicago and around the US, SOS Color Code 2020 will remain on view through Election Day, November 3, reminding us of US Representative John Lewis’ call to action: “Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we call the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.” 

Accompanying the flags, the project’s free print at home poster, available as a color or do-it-yourself black & white download, includes a QR code that directs viewers to HowtoVote, a non-partisan voter registration guide. 

The international distress signal SOS, adopted in 1908, provided an easily recognizable and unique code of aural unity, a sense of consistency in life or death situations. As the world faces the global challenges of the COVID-19 health pandemic, climate crisis, economic depression and disparity, and the systemic racism and violence against Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), which is exacerbated by the aforementioned, SOS Color Code 2020 offers a reimagining of how visual language, objects, symbols and color can provide a measure of stability and safety. With vivid pairings of complementary colors, inspired by Goethe’s theory of how different hues impact our perception and emotions, the flags seek to capture and heighten our awareness. SOS Color Code 2020, an ambigram that can be read from either direction, serves as a calming signal for humanity and a call to help one another in a world turned upside down. 

SOS Color Code 2020 is curated by Sarah Howard and organized by USF Contemporary Art Museum.

SOS Color Code 2020 at USFCAM made possible by Major Sponsor the Stanton Storer Embrace the Arts Foundation, a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and by CAM’s Art for Community Engagement (ACE) funders.

Follow the project on social media: Luftwerk (@luftwerk) and Normal (@thenormalstudio) #SOSColorCode  


Luftwerk is the artist collaboration of Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero. With space as their canvas, they transform environments into immersive experiences. Since founding in 2007, Luftwerk has amassed a significant body of work ranging from site-specific installations to experimental projects that interpret data. In each project they are interested in the abilities of how light and color can be utilized to shift perception and enhance experience.  

Normal is a multi-disciplinary graphic design practice based in Chicago. Normal believes thoughtful design and collaboration strengthens our collective knowledge and defines new ways of seeing, communicating and experiencing the world. Normal is Renata Graw, Tim Curley & Noël Morical.


Cleve Carney Museum of Art, CNL Projects & Art-In-PlaceComfort StationElmhurst Art MuseumH&R Block Artspace at the Kansas City Art InstituteLuftwerk, Mattress Factory, Minnesota Museum of American Art, The National Public Housing Museum, Normal Studio, Sarah Skaggs Independent Curatorial Projects, University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum