16.142 visualizing and knowing

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty (w.mccarty@btinternet.com)
Date: Mon Aug 05 2002 - 04:36:27 EDT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 16, No. 142.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Mon, 05 Aug 2002 09:29:38 +0100
             From: Willard McCarty <w.mccarty@btinternet.com>
             Subject: visualizing and knowing

    Recently I had the good fortune of attending the Congress of the Deutsche
    Gesellschaft fuer Semiotik (German Society for Semiotics) in Kassel and so
    also Documenta11 <http://www.documenta.de/>, the international contemporary
    art exhibition held there every few years since its founding in 1955.
    Subsequently I attended the ALLC/ACH in Tuebingen. Among the memorabilia
    uniting these three events, allow me to report on the following.

    First a book that all those who are interested in visualization will be
    glad for (esp those who read German): Bettina Heinz und Joerg Huber,
    Hgg. Mit dem Auge denken: Strategien der Sichbarmachung in
    wissenschaftlichen und virtuellen Weiten. ith Institut fuer Theorie der
    Gestaltung und Kunst. Zuerich: Edition Voldemeer; Wien und New York:
    Springer Verlag, 2001. (For more about ith see

    Second a remark made by one of my fellow contributors to a session at the
    Congress, Peter Stokerson (Illinois Institute of Technology), who expressed
    profound unease with the phrase "visual language" -- because it commits us
    to a distorting analogy when used to think about the semiotics of visual
    objects. This in turn brought back to mind the problem of tacit knowing,
    since it raises the question of whether by "tacit" (L. taceo, be silent) we
    mean not expressible/expressed at all or not expressible/expressed in
    words. Both are problems for us: the latter because we craft objects, i.e.
    software, the former because these become what they are in use, in a
    performative social context.

    The communication of software objects is, of course, greatly aided by the
    online medium, though how we as computing humanists publish and evaluate
    these in the scholarly sense isn't clear (anyhow, not to me). The use of
    the word "object" here suggests slippage toward the visual. Would it be
    profitable to look to the ways and means of visual artists for help with
    this problem? The performative dimension, of knowing-in-engagement,
    suggests the possibility of alliance with work in multimedia, not in its
    application e.g. to teaching but as a means of thinking.

    Third, along those lines, allow me finally to direct your attention to a
    very interesting paper by John Zuern (Hawaii-Manoa), "Interpreting
    Animation and Vice Versa: Can We Philosophize in Flash?", which he gave at
    the ALLC/ACH conference in Tuebingen, 27 July. The abstract is online, at



    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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