15.623 decentring and imaging

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty (w.mccarty@btinternet.com)
Date: Wed May 01 2002 - 01:53:21 EDT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 623.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

       [1] From: lachance@chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance) (43)
             Subject: decentring

       [2] From: Willard McCarty <w.mccarty@btinternet.com> (41)
             Subject: more questions on imaging

             Date: Wed, 01 May 2002 06:47:53 +0100
             From: lachance@chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance)
             Subject: decentring


    I like some others have not yet traversed the circumference of McGann's
    _Radiant Textuality_ to enter into the radius of its argument.

    At present I've no remote access to an electronic edition of McGann's
    treatise. And neither do I have at hand a copy of the print to peruse and
    check if the term "implementation" is his or yours:

    > implementations of the theoretical designs in our current online archives
    > are anything but decentred. He says that "a major part of our future work
    > with these new electronic environments will be to search for ways to
    > implement, at the interface level, the full dynamic -- and decentering --
    > capabilities of these new tools" (p. 74). How are images being used toward
    > this end?

    I raise the question of terminology because an "implementation" is
    techno-centred. It driven by the framing of the technology. An
    "application" has perhaps more user-centred connotations. Many
    applications can run on the same implementation of an operating system.

    Many an online teacher can relate annecdotes where content housed on
    different servers can be displayed in a WWW browser and a group can
    exchange messages in one application in one window and either cycle through
    material in another window or have several other windows open. The fun
    part is orienting a group when some have set the windows in a cascade,
    others have tiled them, some have split the screen space in a top-bottom
    orientation and others have used east-west orientations... No need to wait
    for the next implementation to enjoy decentring ... we had it with Unix

    Why is it that the word/image debate brings on critical amnesia? Anyone
    familiar with the history of the book will understand features that are
    connected with the framework and anyone who has cropped a photograph or
    mounted a print behind a matte will be sensitive to the question of
    framing images.

    I am beginning to suspect that a certain "naughty" tone to the word/image
    discourse stems from a certain tropism in matters of worship invoked to
    warn against the dangers of idolatry or to entice one to its pleasures,
    as if the WORD could not be a fetish.

    A true decentring will acknowledge that life worlds are shifted with
    regards to universal time: what one group of us needs to do in the future
    some of us have already accomplished in the past.

    Fromthecentre of thesideline

            as ever

    Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large
    per Interactivity ad Virtuality via Textuality

    --[2]------------------------------------------------------------------ Date: Wed, 01 May 2002 06:48:13 +0100 From: Willard McCarty <w.mccarty@btinternet.com> Subject: more questions on imaging

    Two interrelated questions following from Matt Kirschenbaum's reply to mine in Humanist 15.620:

    (1) How are images, photographic or simply graphic, being used in electronic resources as visual or visualized means for organizing and/or providing access to other material? Can we begin to see some principles emerging from what has or even can be done?

    Let me give two examples.

    (a) George Sandys' translation and commentary on Ovid's Metamorphoses, Ovid's Metamorphosis Englished Mythologized and Represented in Figures (1632 &c.). At the head of every book of the poem in Sandys' work is an engraving that depicts the stories in that book. (See the digital archive of these images at http://www.uvm.edu/~hag/ovid/sandys1640/sandys1640.html; may the maker of this archive be praised.) It would be a trivial matter to image-map each of these images such that clicking on the graphical depiction of a story would take the user to that part of the text where the story is told. The result would in effect model what the designer had in mind -- which in turn models what the poet wrote. Furthermore one could argue -- allow me to be quick about it, as the real argument would be quite complex -- that the technology of engraving did not allow this early 17C designer to do a job we could now do, namely to produce a single image of all the poem's action; having done that, we could then image-map the entire thing and get even closer in our modelling to how an attentive and memorious reader might have the poem in mind.

    (b) The homepage of the Third Stream Computing programme at Oberlin College (Flash plugin version 5) at http://www-ts.cs.oberlin.edu/new/splash.html. There are many such things these days, of course. Do we have a theory about how they work? Is there anything interesting here? (The programme itself is *very* interesting, of course, but this is not meant as a plug for it :-).

    (2) The above, in addition to ideas that have been floating around in my head about how to make e.g. digital ms. editions better, raise the question of how in broader or just different terms imaging might be used in analytically powerful ways -- and what these other ways show us in theoretical terms. An image can of course be a powerful stimulus to the mind. But (to borrow a term from Ian Hacking) how can we use computing to *intervene* through imaging into the material we study?

    Yours, WM

    Dr Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS, U.K., +44 (0)20 7848-2784, ilex.cc.kcl.ac.uk/wlm/, willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk, w.mccarty@btinternet.com

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