Archive for February 16, 2012

Making Information Beautiful

February 16, 2012
crit one

Infographic Showing Class crit work as a Social Network

I appreciate both the creative and critical work we were able to accomplish last Tuesday night. Please take time to review each other’s blogs and keep up-to-date with any and all updates. This responsibility is especially important if for any reason you can’t personally attend.

To the right, I thought I’d make available the same infographic I produced out of patterns made evident via your own critical surveys of each other’s work. As we discussed in class, a very clear preference for David’s and Ben’s work emerges if we organise each 390 student’s critical focus as a kind of vector leading or pointing to two other projects.

Now I know any one of us might feel inclined to interpret this image as an assessment or even evaluation of our individual work, making it clear that we all feel David’s and Ben’s respective projects in concrete or typographic poetics may somehow be more successful. But, in my humble opinion, that’s not the best way to understand this . Rather, we should keep in mind that all this diagram shows is how the works considered en masse or collectively can be interpreted as a kind of social network. Nothing can really be said about the works as objects in themselves.

In other words, what I hope to convey here is the importance of the network as its own structure or framework – and this is a quality that should extend to each of your own individual forays into infoaesthetics. The aesthetic “work” we produce is interesting not because it provides any essential or objective insight into any real event or entity. Angel, for example, produced a challenging visual comparison of the most common criminal acts perpetrated by Americans over the last two weeks. It may be tempting to interpret his graph as a comment on how a violent, physical assault compares currently to, let’s say, a robbery or car jacking. But we should refrain from heading down this path of reasoning. What’s valuable about Angel’s work is the new relationships it makes available to the eye concerning contemporary criminal activity. Angel shows us how one activity can acquire an entirely different significance when depicted graphically in relation to another activity. We see, in other words, both a new structure and a new kind of visual representation or transcriptive practice. The structure itself might be difficult to analyze, but we spent quite a bit of time talking about how the representation he ended up producing could be improved. Please continue to check each other’s works and provide more commentary in this vein. Each project should be reviewed and analyzed in terms of its visual and aesthetic effect. Any ideas why this effect is important culturally or socially? What do you think?

Also stay tuned for any updates I can provide about the Digital Creativity Lab in Cullimore. It’s my aim to get it up and running as soon as possible.

Transcribing Dubstep – Rap meets Russian Futurism

February 8, 2012

Ben and Mindsparks shows us what a transcription of Dubstep might look like: Click here.

Can this be compared to the Russian Futurist concept of “Zaum” – in the 1920s, after the Russian Revolution, various poets, notably Velimir Khlebnikov and Aleksei Kruchenykh, began exploring concepts in sound symbolism. The ideas were collected under the title: заум or zaum.

As you can see, the word “Zaum” is built phonetically from the Russian prefix “за” – which translates basically to “trans” or to go “beyond”. The second part of the word is “ум” – a noun, meaning “reason” or “sense”. So, “заум” means beyond reason or trans-reason. Can we not say заум is the practice of using language to go beyond reason…?

Most importantly, we must remember that movements like this one were in many ways prompted by the same questions we raised in class last night. To speak plainly, just how language might actually convey meaning or sense may be much more complex than we first realise. In Zaum, we see the more typical, conventional relationship between language and ideas being fitfully overturned. Rather than words, phrases or terms being employed in a standard way as modes of reference, Zaum imagines the communication of ideas to occur much more like a kind of ongoing downloading process – like imagine if a particular sound could instantly trigger or construct a concept in the brain. I say “BAQESwwwsssht” and suddenly the person who hears it understands the theory of relativity.


February 3, 2012