Re: [-empyre-] Tactics and Strategies

(Apologies for surfacing late in the conversation...)

Tracey, your remark a few days ago that "your webby accessibility police hat went on" when Renee told you our Anxiety Monitor used frames, stuck with me for completely the wrong reasons -- I'll try to come back to this at the end of this post.

<quote>i guess my question isn't whether continuously going back to the drawing board is an option, but what information/desires/needs we use to decide when to reassess/redesign/rework. i think you're right, that notions of "success" and "failure" are too elusive and problematic to be tactically useful. Can we discuss what the stakes are in non-zero-sum terms...</quote>

I don't know whether this is useful, but I am working on a talk about Otto Neurath - a Viennese philosopher well known in graphic design circles for his ISOTYPE / International System Of TYpographic Picture Education ( ).

It's been interesting to spend time with his work, finding out that Neurath who I'd always associated with ultra-modernist ideas such as the desire to standardize visual communication (in a way ISOTYPE formed the basis for those pictograms helping to make airports navigable by always looking the same), was in fact developing quite radical ideas about 'processes of constant reworking'.

"We are like sailors who must reconstruct their ship on the open sea but are never able to start afresh from the bottom. Where a beam is taken away a new one must be at once put there, and for this the rest of the ship is used as support. In this way, by using old beams and driftwood, the ship can be shaped entirely anew, but only by gradual reconstruction". (Otto Neurath in: Anti-Spengler, 1921)

The 'we' he refers to are Neurath himself and his fellow-scientists, but I imagine this metaphor could work for other domains too. If I understand his position well (I am still far from an expert on his work), he felt that each statement is provisional and that 'auxiliary motives' or 'provisional rules' are a way to put things in motion, to be able to act. Does this relate to your thoughts about the sub-rational, Ryan?

Neurath worked on systems for the display of scientific information allowing 'the public' to understand those results, so that they could make decisions based on knowledge, not on sentiments. He seems not that far from Bruno Latour when he motivates ISOTYPE (he is using Basic English!) as follows: " give simple and clear accounts of everything as a solid base for our thoughts and acts, and to make us fully conscious of conditions in which we are living" (Latour: "do we now have to reveal the real objective and incontrovertible facts hidden behind the illusion of prejudices")

Neuraths' energy seems relevant still: working against Nazi populism and rejecting foundationalism - he felt that *because* scientific methods are fragile and replaceable, practice is necessary.

What is at stake... is difficult to answer, especially in general terms. I think that to be able to critically engage with the world around, it is important not to lose contact and that works both ways. "It seems to involve a kind of opening up of "space" that allows for politics to slip into our experience, and vice versa, where it always already exists" you said, Ryan, and this kind of slippage never happens automatically, however 'natural' it sounds. You need to set yourself up for it, and I think much of our work is an attempt to make that happen.

So, back to the webby accessibility police ;-):
Strangely enough, is far from 'accessible' -- even when the lightest of all criteria are applied to it. Google image results are omitting the required ALT tags for thumbnails, so that visually impaired users (search-robots for example ;-)) will have no idea what images are in fact displayed.

On the web text ends up being the most accessible form of data (both technically and conceptually... no salvation for those with dyslexia!), it functions as dominant *content*: sorting, searching and archiving mechanisms all depend on words when it comes to images.

The connection between accessibility and visibility links to a red thread running through De Geuzen practice since long; many projects mentioned earlier look at tags and labels in relation to images; playing with naming and re-naming as a way to (re)appropriate representation ("queering the language - thanks Tracey!).

Images end up on the same page, contexts are mixed; as Renee said: "unfamiliar territories find itself viewed in unconventional registers". Google image search explodes (or implodes?) this effect in always taking images literally. The Anxiety Monitor and the Image Tracer both start from the fact that networked images can not be visible without the help of text; the php script putting the Anxiety Monitor in motion is both a summoning of images and an attempt to exorcise.



This archive was generated by a fusion of Pipermail 0.09 (Mailman edition) and MHonArc 2.6.8.