iconography to the icon
a computer icon is a pictogram displayed on a computer screen in order to help the user navigate a computer system or mobile device. the icon itself is a small picture or symbol serving as a quick, intuitive representation of a software tool, function or a data file accessible on the system. it functions as an electronic hyperlink or file shortcut to access the program or data. icons, in conjunction with computer windows, menus and a pointing device form the graphical user interface of the computer system and enable the user to easily and intuitively navigate the system. they belong to the much larger topic of the history of the graphical user interface that has largely supplanted the text-based interface for casual use. the user can activate them using a mouse, pointer, finger, or recently voice commands. icons may also be cast in metal, carved in stone, embroidered on cloth, painted on wood, done in mosaic or fresco work, printed on paper or metal, etc. icons are often illuminated with a candle or jar of oil with a wick. beeswax for candles and olive oil for oil lamps are preferred because they burn very cleanly, although other materials are sometimes used. the illumination of religious images with lamps or candles is an ancient practice pre-dating christianity. although common in translated works from greek or russian, in english iconography does not mean icon painting, and iconographer does not mean an artist of icons, which are painted or carved, not written, as they are in those languages. in the icons of eastern orthodoxy, and of the early medieval west, very little room is made for artistic license. almost everything within the image has a symbolic aspect. christ, the saints, and the angels all have halos. angels and often john the baptist have wings because they are messengers. figures have consistent facial appearances, hold attributes personal to them, and use a few conventional poses.