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

Simon Biggs s.biggs at eca.ac.uk
Thu Feb 4 20:00:46 EST 2010

Hi Sean

I am aware of the examples you give ­ but that was not the sort of thing I
meant when suggesting some form of data analysis of a text. I was thinking
more about how you could mash-up discourse analysis, corpus linguistics and
reader reception theory, on the one hand, and empirical linguistics and
statistical semantic modelling, on the other. I imagine it would be a mess
so was entertained by what a possible visualisation might resemble (a car
crash?). If you look at
http://hosted.simonbiggs.easynet.co.uk/installations/utter/index.htm you
might see something like this. The point I was seeking to make is that it
seems ambitious to apply quantitative analytical methods to the
understanding of something as subjective, fugitive and motile as a text (or
other cultural artefact).

I work a little bit with the Centre for Speech Technology Research here in
Edinburgh ( http://www.cstr.ed.ac.uk/ ) and some of their most interesting
work is in the multi-modal modelling of affect in speech, looking at
automatic recognition of socio-linguistic interaction between humans in
tightly constrained and controlled situations (eg: meetings). Speaking with
the people leading this research is enlightening as they recognise how
complex and difficult this area of research is. They are very humble about
their outcomes to date and what they imagine might be possible in the medium
(eg: 5-10 years) term, which is very modest (perhaps slightly better
automatic phone answering systems or improved data-tagging). This is
profoundly different to what is required to analyse the existence of a text
³in reading².

Sorry to be off-topic again.



Simon Biggs

Research Professor
edinburgh college of art
s.biggs at eca.ac.uk

Creative Interdisciplinary Research into CoLlaborative Environments
CIRCLE research group

simon at littlepig.org.uk
AIM/Skype: simonbiggsuk

From: Sean Cubitt <scubitt at unimelb.edu.au>
Reply-To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
Date: Thu, 04 Feb 2010 09:20:30 +1100
To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] visualization as the new language of theory


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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