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 <email@example.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/,
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