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Week 7.         Other Media & Hypertext


Images & Text -  the tradition of ekphrasis, collage, montage – (William Blake, Eisenstein, John Cage, Picasso, Schwitters, Ezra Pound).

In an illuminated manuscript, the complexity of the decoration was intended to mirror the complexity of the biblical passages. The printing press separated words from images. Words were easily reproduced whereas engraving is a highly skilled and time consuming craft. Can hypertext re-associate words and images in a creative way?

‘On the screen, as on medieval parchment, verbal text and image interpenetrate to such a degree that the writer and reader can no longer say where the pictorial space ends and the verbal space begins.’ Bolter (Writing Space, p74).

‘True electronic writing is not limited to verbal text: the writeable elements may be words, images, sounds, or even actions that the computer is directed to perform.’ (Bolter, Writing Space, p26).

Texts: Jay David Bolter, ‘Ekphrasis, Virtual Reality, and the Future of Writing’, in Geoffrey Nunberg and Patrizia Violi, Eds. The Future of the Book, University of California Press, 1996. (Special Reserve but not Electronic)

Exercise: How do texts and images work together? Write a hypertext piece that works with an image/s.
(
Web texts are becoming more like visual art works)


William Blake when conceiving his "Song of Innocence" or his "Prophetic Books," 'strongly desired to accompany and complete them with images. Words, in his view, had to be continued and integrated by visual forms, as of old, when writing consisted in grasping and visualizing ideas, before the "dangerous" phonetic alphabet arrived.' 
Have a look at
http://www.blakearchive.org/ e.g. Songs of Innocence

Minor White
Exercise

http://www.masters-of-photography.com/W/white/white_warehouse.html

Suggested Sites:

An Exchange of Graphics Karl Young and Reid Wood at Light and Dust. It uses text and graphics – (but is not hypertextual).  

"Chicken Wire Mother" Levi Asher and Mark Napier at Enterzone. How are the images being used?

We have mentioned Walter Benjamin - IF you have time read some, especially the essay, 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.' (He was a Marxist and saw the new media technologies such as phonographs, epic theatre, and especially film and photography, not only as destroying art's aura' but demystify the process of creating art.  He praised their liberating, democratizing influences, with new access and roles for art in mass culture. The spectator becomes a participant, joins the author in the production; a collaborator - ( not unlike procedural authorship which we have discussed).

Tim Mclaughlin's 25 Ways To Close a Photograph'
uses bland images -- old school photos to set off McLaughlin's miniature character sketches http://www.nwhq.net/tim/tim_25.html

 

On the Inversion of Ekphrasis (the description in prose or poetry of an artistic object or striking visual scene)

As Bolter puts it, 'Rather than defining a new orality, as McLuhan and Ong predicted, electronic technology seems to me to be moving us toward an increasing dependence upon and interest in the visual.' (Ekphrasis, Virtual Reality, and the Future of Writing in The Future of the Book, Geoffrey Nunberg, Ed., p270).

'Thus, the renegotiation of the word and image that is taking place in our traditional and new media is leading to a crisis in rhetoric. For both ancient and modern rhetoric have depended upon subordinating images to words. In ancient rhetoric it was the spoken word that controlled the image; in modern rhetoric it has been the written or printed word. Now when neither the written nor the spoken word can exert effective control, the result is an inversion of traditional rhetorical practice. In particular, the effect of turning a newspaper into a multimedia screen can be seen as an inversion of the classical device of ekphrasis. Ekphrasis is the description in prose or poetry of an artistic object or striking visual scene; it is the attempt to capture the visual in words. Today, as the visual and the sensual are emerging out of verbal communication, images are given the task...of explaining words, rather than the reverse.' (Ekphrasis, p264).

There is criticism of Bolter: Bolter's lack of convincing examples is most damaging to his assessment of hypertext's visual dimension. Using the history of pictographic writing as an entry point for his discussion of visual communication, Bolter has somehow overlooked an entire century's discourse in art, photography, film, media studies and design.