Drucker 2014

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Drucker, Johanna. Graphesis: Visual Forms of Knowledge Production. Camridge: Harvard University Press, 2014.

Kircher image "produces the knowledge it draws"; visualization of web traffic "only displays information" -- "It is a representation of knowledge, not a knowledge generator"

Info graphics come from fields like statistics and the empirical sciences; "Can these graphic languages serve humanistic fields where interpretation, ambiguity, inference, and qualitative judgment take priority over quantitative statements and presentations of 'facts'?"

Information graphics: "visualizations based on abstractions of statistical data. All information visualizations are metrics expressed as graphics."

Graphical user interface: "the dominant feature of screens in all shapes and sizes. No single innovation has transformed communication as radically in the last half century as the GUI."

Visual epistemology: "ways of knowing that are presented and processed visually"

"Language of form": "a systematic approach to graphic expression as a means as well as an object of study"

"With these concepts in play, our task is three-fold. First, to study information graphics and begin to understand how they operate; to de-naturalize the increasingly familiar interface that has become so habitual in daily use; and finally, to consider how to serve a humanistic agenda by thinking about ways to visualize interpretation."

"Most information visualizations are acts of interpretation masquerading as presentation. In other words, they are images that act as if they are just showing us what is, but in actuality, they are arguments made in graphical form."

Image, Interpretation, and Interface

"the systematic articulation of a graphic method only started to appear in the 19th century." -- same time you get grammars (28)

1856, The Grammar of Ornament

19c, Eugene Guillaume, sculptor and educator who emphasized creating a grammar of forms that were "machine readable" -- easy to be die-cut -- separate from history of fine arts ---

Interface and Interpretation

Interface is "a mediating structure that supports behaviors and tasks" -- "a space between human users and procedures that happen according to complicated protocols" -- "disciplines, constrains, and determines what can be done in any digital environment" (138-9)

Only considered interfaces in last 50 years, with HCI field

Software industry promotes idea of "user" not humanistic "subject"

Interface can express content or provide a set of instructions for actions (142); Garrett: web as information space vs. task-supporting environment -- "interface is the space between these two -- it is neither the transparent and self-evident map of content elements and their relations, nor is it simply a way to organize tasks. The two are as intimately related as the reading of a text in a book is governed by its graphical organization and the specific individual reading experience produced as a 'performance' of that environment." (143)

"A full theory of interface goes beyond the design of information structures and tasks into the realization that those are only the armature -- not the essence -- of that space of provocation in which the performative event takes place. And yet, we know that the structure of an interface is information, not merely a means of access to it." (143)

"We need to theorize interface and its relation to reading as an environment in which varied behaviors of embodied and situated persons will be enabled differently according to its many affordances. This shifts us away from the HCI world, and the interface, into fields closer to graphic design and media theory, an important move in reading and designing interface." (146)

Need to apply theories of subject formation to screens/interfaces

"Like any other component of computational systems, it [interface] is an artifact of complex processes and protocols, a zone in which our behaviors and actions take place, but it is also a symbolic space in which we constitute ourselves through the experience of its particular structures and features. Interafce is what we read and how. We read combined through engagement, it is a provocation to cognitive experience, but it is also an enunciative apparatus." (147)

"The crucial definition of human subjectivity is that it can register a trace of itself in a reprsetnational system, and that self-recognition and self-consetitution depend on that trace, that capacity to make and register difference. The encounter between a subject and an interface need not be understood mechanistically. We can think beyond representational models to understand interface as an ecology, a border zone between cultural systems and human subjects." (148)

"An interface launches a probabilistic missive in the direction of a user/reader, but the reading is always an act of self-production and of textual deformation." (149)

Standard theory of interface is "reductively mechanistic" -- "its goal is to design an environment to maximize efficient accomplishment of tasks" (151)

Film and books at least have unifying ground, unfold via sequence -- but jumping around links, opening windows, pop-ups, this seems to be of a different order; "the points of connection are perhaps best described in terms of mathematical figures and architectural spaces: as nodes, edges, tangents, trajectories, hinges, bends, pipelines, portals. These are not the language of old media transferred to new, not a language that derives from theories of montage or cuts, editing or pastiche, allegory or appropriation. Instead, these are structuring principles that refer to the constitutive nature of interface experiences of reading." (154)

Nothing a priori -- world and is reading are co-constitutive; web-based reading is "not another order of thing, a representation already made and structured, but a set of possibilities we encounter and from which we constitute the tissue of experience" (155)

Erving Goffman, frame analysis -- dissolution of text/paratext distinction; "In a digital environment, those relations are loosened from their condition of fixity and can be reorganized and rearranged according to shifting hierarchies of authority and priority." (157)

Vocabulary for describing relations rather than entities

Mise en page to mise en scene

"Interface is not a thing, but a zone of affordances organized to support and provoke activities and behaviors probabilistically, rather than mechanically." (157-8)

Malcolm Parkes, scholarly book assumed familiar form between 12th and 15th centuries; shift from monactic lectio (reading aloud) to scholastic cross-referencing

Graphic information as "structuring regimes" -- "An interface is a space in which a subject, not a user, is invoked. Interface is an enunciative system." (177)