Saturday, June 23, 2012

Rethinking Arrangement

I have started my reading for my new media independent study, and I will be reflecting on each text here.  So, let me get started with my first text, Susan Delagrange's Technologies of Wonder.

A Wunderkammer of Rosaries
I have wanted to read this book ever since I learned last semester about Delagrange's use of the Wunderkammer as a visual metaphor for the arrangement possibilities of digital media. I have been so taken by this very tangible example of what digital media, which can be so intangible, can do.  When I met Delagrange at DMAC a few weeks ago, I learned that her husband is an antiques dealer and she too used to work in antiques.  I am assuming her academic connections to the Wunderkammer drew at least in part out of this work, and it makes even more sense to me now why I have been so drawn to the analogy.  I live in a house from 1883 filled with many antiques in historic downtown Fredericksburg. Mr. Delagrange even knew Fredericksburg's Caroline Street because it is so full of antique shops.

As I read Technologies of Wonder, I found myself most struck by her constant refrain of process over product and inquiry and discovery over proof (19). She says we should not be afraid of some secret power of visuals but instead embrace and use their meaning (28) like people used to do as they explored new parts of the world, new scientific studies, and new animals (44). She speaks then directly to an arrangement assumption in academia that I have struggled with for many years and am actually considering pursuing in my dissertation: the strictures of academic writing that demand certain arrangement ultimately for the purpose of believing this arrangement to become transparent. "I would argue that we have favored the organizational over the inventional and the abstract over the material in recent practice, even as our scholarly performances have shifted from analog to digital forms ... Furthermore, arrangement is not often put to use in a robust way as a method of discovery or inquiry in college writing texts or in scholarly articles" (107-108).  Delagrange is asking the question: can arrangement become a tool for helping us make digital media into "hypermediated thinking space[s] that would allow us and our reader to explore, to move things about, to seek out curious and unexpected connections, and to defer closure and certainty while we consider the possibilities for rhetorical action that different arrangements of our evidence might suggest" (108).  I think the answer to this is YES, and I am inspired by Delagrange to try to apply this rhetorical concept of arrangement to my Wordpress site I am creating as the practical side of my independent study.  I am now thinking through this very specific recommendation she has for digital arrangement: "add cognitive weight to the link" (137).  What do you think this means for rethinking hyperlinks?

"Comparative Mammalian Anatomy." BibliOdyssey. N.p., 12 Feb. 2006. Web. 23 June 2012.

Curious Expeditions. Cabinet of Rosaries. 2007. Photograph. Dommuseum, Salzburg, Austria. Flickr. 22 Oct. 2007. Web. 23 June 2012.

Delagrange, Susan. Technologies of Wonder: Rhetorical Practices in a Digital World. November 2011. June 23, 2012 .

1 comment:

  1. I love that last question, both in terms of what does it mean as well as what is the technical functionality of "cognitive" weight. Does she define it (dang I've got to go read it)? Does she provide examples of what/how/why that might look/function in a hypertext or other form of multimedia?
    Now your image citations (can you tell I'm very interested in this issue?! LOL), why not make the word "Web" in each citation a link to the actual source? You are in a digital text, do you really think MLA would mind? (And don't get me started on MLA and contemporary citation issues.)