[-empyre-] visualization as the new language of theory

Sean Cubitt scubitt at unimelb.edu.au
Thu Feb 4 09:20:30 EST 2010


On novel as data, see Franco Moretti¹s attempts to derive maps from large
samples of novels (eg criminalLondon as described in London-set detective
fiction: I¹m afraid I dioon¹t find it hugely convincing, but there it
is.Lexical analysis (eg Jacobson and Levi-Strauss¹s famous analysis of Les
Chats) and discourse analysis (Norman fairclough and Teun van Dijk) likewise
undertake lexical and syntactical analsyes with considerable succes,
articulating the formalist and hermeneutic/political-ethical in areas like
van Dijk¹s work on racism

David Chirot mentions Menezes wonderful work. See also  Adalaide Morris and
Thomas SWISS (eds), New Media Poetic(small plug for Leonardo Books!); and my
favourite Ian Hamilton Finlay A Visual Primer by Abrioux

On 3/02/10 8:39 PM, "Simon Biggs" <s.biggs at eca.ac.uk> wrote:

> A number of interesting threads are evident in this posting.
> The primary hypothesis seems to concern why there has been an avoidance of
> employing quantitative research methodologies in the arts and humanities.
> Following from that, the questions raised are foundational, asking whether
> this is primarily due to the epistemic and cultural histories of such research
> or the character of the data-sets encountered, or both. Indeed, can one speak
> of data-sets within the typical foci of the arts and humanities (manuscripts,
> films, artworks, music, etc). Can a novel be rendered as a data-set? Can a
> reader¹s interpretation of a text be rendered as data, accepting that a novel
> exists not only within the pages of a book but in the context of its (public
> and private) reception? Is what is the case for a novel also the case for
> other cultural artefacts, such as animation, or do different kinds of cultural
> artefacts require different analytical models? If a novel, or other artefact,
> can be rendered as data then what value might flow from that? If we were to
> visualise a data-set derived from a quantitative analysis of a text and its
> interpretation (the latter proposition would seem to require mind-reading
> technology we currently do not possess, whatever might be claimed for current
> scanning and imaging technologies) would that visualisation really be worth a
> thousand words?
> Subsequent to these questions, we might need to inquire into how and why
> conventional quantitative methods are applied within their normal contexts and
> ask whether the outcomes revealed through that analysis reveal positive or
> negative consequences for research in the arts and humanities. We might then
> seek to steer our inquiry towards addressing whether such methods are
> necessarily appropriate in the traditional quantitative sciences. We might
> ask, sympathetically, as is proposed here in the application of quantitative
> methods to traditionally qualitative subjects, whether typical subjects of
> inquiry in the physical sciences might benefit from qualitative analysis? If
> so, it is possible that these questions are already being addressed (eg:
> Latour, Law, Biagioli, etc, have all written extensively on this).
> However, whilst I think these are all interesting questions they are
> definitely not on the current topic (animation). I don¹t want to distract the
> list from the topic so we might want to tag this subject for later discussion.
> Seeking to assure the topic remains the focus I will ask whether animation,
> closely related to visualisation in some ways, might be a cultural form of
> expression with particular relevance in a world that is being progressively
> rendered instrumentalised through gradual processes of quantitative ordering.
> Best
> Simon
> Simon Biggs
> Research Professor
> edinburgh college of art
> s.biggs at eca.ac.uk
> www.eca.ac.uk
> Creative Interdisciplinary Research into CoLlaborative Environments
> CIRCLE research group
> www.eca.ac.uk/circle/
> simon at littlepig.org.uk
> www.littlepig.org.uk
> AIM/Skype: simonbiggsuk
> From: Lev Manovich <manovich.lev at gmail.com>
> Reply-To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
> Date: Tue, 2 Feb 2010 23:49:32 -0800
> To: <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
> Subject: [-empyre-] visualization as the new language of theory
> In the 20th century, intellectuals devoted lots of energy to analyzing
> lens-based narrative visuals (photography and cinema) and modern
> non-figurative art. Animation, graphic design, typography, information
> design, and other areas of visual culture were mostly ignored. in
> fact, if you are to search for books which theoretically analyze
> graphics, you will find only a single title published in France in the
> end of 1960s: Jacques Bertin, Semiology of Graphics (English edition,
> 1983).
> In the 1990s, most areas of culture industry switched to
> software-based production. As a result, graphic design (as well as as
> other areas of visual culture I listed above) assumed much more
> central position in contemporary culture. Additionally, visual culture
> became hybrid. Today, a still design or a moving image sequence now
> typically combine many previously separate media. Such hybrids are now
> the norm.
> A case in point are contemporary motion graphics (commercials, music
> videos, film and TV titles, and other short forms). They are as
> prominent today as film and TV narratives - but they cannot be
> adequately described using the concepts of film theory. Motion
> graphics typically combine multiple media and techniques (live action
> video, 2D and 3D animation, typography, effects, compositing, etc.).
> Instead of being divided into a number of discrete shots, a work often
> is a single visual flow which constantly changes over time. (For a
> more detailed analysis, see the chapter "After Effects, or How Cinema
> Became Design" in my book Software Takes Command.)
> Cultural Analytics approach can be used to analyze motion graphics -
> as well as other areas of contemporary visual culture largely ignored
> by academic theory. The algorithmic analysis and visualization of how
> different visual parameters change over time allows us to describe
> moving images in new ways.  We can graph temporal patterns across many
> visual and semantic parameters, and compare them across different
> works.
> Below are links to some results of our explorations into different
> ways of visualizing temporal changes in motion graphics.
> http://lab.softwarestudies.com/2008/09/cultural-analytics.html
> http://www.flickr.com/photos/culturevis/sets/72157622088848303/
> http://www.flickr.com/photos/culturevis/sets/72157622608431194/
> http://www.flickr.com/photos/culturevis/3180463968/in/set-72157612327742966/
> One of the most important advantageous of Cultural Analytics approach
> is the ability to analyze and graph continuos qualities such as the
> amount and type of motion. The following graph reveals the amazing
> motion patterns across a feature film by Dziga Vertov (I have not
> applied this technique to a pure "animation" work but it will be
> trivial to do):
> http://www.flickr.com/photos/culturevis/4117658480/in/set-72157622608431194/
> (legend)
> http://www.flickr.com/photos/culturevis/4117658480/sizes/o/in/set-721576226084
> 31194/
> (full-size image)
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