Revolution Lullabye

June 3, 2009

Kirschenbaum, Machine Visions

Kirschenbaum, Matthew. “Machine Visions: Toward a Poetics of Artificial Intelligence.” electronic book review 6 (November 1997)http://www.altx.com/ebr/ebr6/6kirschenbaum/6kirsch.htm

In this hypertext, Kirschenbaum reviews three non-canonical webtexts: Throwing Apples at the Sun, which is an interactive CD-ROM by Elliott Peter Earls, Johanna Drucker’s artists’ book Simulant Portrait, and Darick Chamberlin’s artists’ book Cigarette Boy. Kirschenbaum argues through his analysis of these three digital texts that they are poststructural examples of new digital media, media that is self-reflexive and aware of its materiality, dependent on a dialogue between the human and the computer (“artificial intelligence”), and cannot be read outside of the digital form. He advocates for 1. a broader understanding and appreciation of the possibilities of digital texts – to move beyond things hailed in Wired and to push for experimental work in post-alphabetic graphic and digital design – and 2. a realization that the computer is more than a word processor; it has multiple design tools and options that can be used by writers and designers to create texts that push the limits of their audiences. This integration of the visual and the verbal is in the tradition of William Morris, William Blake, and the Book of Kells.

Quotable Quotes

on the computer: “It is an instrument for crafting writing environments.”

“The poetics of artificial intelligence are aestheticized instances of the digital wor(l)d and its virtual subjectivities, realized in the form of an incarnate and embodied text – whether than text be codex or electronic in form.” – its more than just computer-generated text

These complex, embedded, multi-vocal texts cannot be “read abstracted from [their] presentation”

March 9, 2009

Wysocki, The Sticky Embrace of Beauty

Wysocki, Anne Frances. “The Sticky Embrace of Beauty: On Some Formal Problems in Teaching about the Visual Aspects of Texts.” In Writing New Media. Eds. Anne Frances Wysocki, et al. Logan, UT: Utah State UP, 2004. 147-198.

Wyscoki argues for an alternative understanding of beauty, aesthetic, and form that is grounded in the local and the particular rather than universal generalities and maxims that visual designers use for composing images and texts, universal rules that were developed first through Kant’s philosophy. Kant believed that the judgment of beauty is inherent and universal, happening when a person sees and appreciates its structure in terms of its formal relations. This allows the object (or body) deemed beautiful to be made abstract and distanced, a dangerous ethical situation. Wysocki, seeing this tension, argues that composition teachers, instead of just teaching students about design by instructing them in general, accepted rules for visual arrangment, should question the social and cultural practices that deem something efficient, pleasing, or visual, analyzing and creating to make what we take for granted unfamiliar to us so that we might appreciate and understand its particularities. In this way, she shows how form is rhetorical, informed and mediated by choices grounded in history and cultural context.

Quotable Quotes

How can we teach visual communication in such a way “That form does not override content, so that form is, in fact, understood as itself part of content, so that, finally, I better understand how to support students (and myself) be generously and questioningly recipricoal in our designings” (144)

“Form is itself always a set of structuring principles, with different forms growing out of and reproducing different but specific values” (159).

“If we believe that to be human is to be tied to place and time and messiness and complexity, then, by so abstracting us, this desire dehumanizes us and our work and how we see each other. This is dangerous.” (169)

“The web of social and cultural practices in which we move give us the words and concepts, as well as the tastes, for understanding what we sense” (171).

Notable Notes

Kant Critique of Judgment

The New Yorker Peek advertisement – woman’s body

design elements aren’t neutral – design values can’t just be looked at analytically….ours are grounded in industrializaiton, standardization, linear, order, efficiency (Nazi memos)

assignments ask students to learn design principles deductively by gathering designs. Also, redesigning web sites and textbooks

reciprocal relationship – we need “approaches that see form as this kind of recognition, tying us to others and to our times and places” (170)

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.