Reading Question – 3/6

“We look at interface as a thing, a representation of computational processes that make it convenient for us to interact with what is ‘really’ happening. But the interface is a mediated structure that supports behaviors and tasks. It is a space between human users and procedures that happen according to complicated protocols” (Drucker 139).

This excerpt reminds me a lot of writing more broadly. All sorts of people–students, non-writing instructors, administrators, and the public–often think about writing as a thing–a textual product. Yet, we know writing is a recursive, social process that is contextually and rhetorically situated. Despite all the time and research it took to inform our understanding of writing as a process, there are still people who don’t get it, who still view writing as only a product. I’m curious what the process will look like to reframe interfaces as an interactive structure that exists between human users and protocol-informed procedures, as opposed to a static thing. What will need to happen throughout this process to create a meaningful paradigm shift for composition / TPC / interface design scholars, as well as other stakeholders such as students, non-writing instructors, administrators, and the public more broadly?

Reading Question – 2/27

“The humanistic record is full of gaps and breaks, ruptures in missing documents, so that any historical reconstruction necessarily provides only partial evidence. Humanistic temporality is broken, discontinuous, partial, fragmented in its fundamental conception and model. How to find the right graphical language to communicate this knowledge in ways that are sufficiently consistent to achieve consensus while being flexible enough to inscribe the inflections that characterize subjective experience?” (Drucker 76).

This quotation is from the end of the “Timekeeping” section. There is a lot going on in the question Drucker already posed here, so let’s break it down a little. Before this quotation, Drucker explains that empirical timelines are limited because they view time as continuous; however, humanistic timelines create “alternative branchings, perspective and retrospective approaches to the understanding of events” (76). Is this question that Drucker asks even possible? If there are so many gaps in the humanistic record, then is there a graphical language that can be used to communicate this knowledge or should we use another way entirely?

Reading Question 2/27

Foss (2005) articulates a number of binaries within visual rhetoric:

Artifact | Perspective “[V]isual rhetoric now has two meanings within the discipline of rhetoric. It is used to mean both a visual object or artifact and a perspective on the study of visual data” (p. 143)
Deductive | Inductive “Some scholars deductively apply rhetorical theories and constructs to visual imagery to investigate questions about rhetoric…. A second approach involves an inductive investigation of visual images designed to highlight features of the images themselves” (p. 147)

These categorizations that I’ve labelled as binaries name collective groups of visually rhetorical work.


To what extent are these binaries here a subset of the theory-practice divide that occurs within rhetoric as a discipline? Is there ways in which the deductive | inductive binary also perpetuates this division? Are these processes fundamentally different? How neatly separated are these functions—need they be?


Along all these binarized lines seems to operate the fundamental hermeneutic assumption that visual rhetorical work is interpretive; are there ways to articulate a heuristic approach to visual rhetoric? Is the interpretive assumption linked to the artifact approach being focused on the product (p. 143)—and is there yet disciplinary understanding for the visual as process? Or a situation, giving time and space to the rhetorical elements and actors?

Reading Question (2/27)

After explaining a brief history and definition of visual rhetoric, Sonja Foss discusses what she considers three markers that qualify an image/object as visual rhetoric. She labels these markers as “symbolic action,” “human interaction,” and “presence of an audience” (Foss 144). Regarding audience, Foss states, “Even if the only audience for an image is its creator, some audience—and thus the implied act of communication—is present in visual rhetoric” (145). Since, as Foss seems to suggest, the rhetor creates an object for the purpose of communicating an idea to him/herself or others, the self can count as an audience, too.

Though this explanation seems straightforward, this particular marker seems quite broad to me, and I can’t help but wonder about the concept of an “implied act of communication” (Foss 145). Does this mean that the implied act of communication has to be intentional? What types of images/objects are created without the intention of communication? Further, how can we determine if/when a rhetor creates with the intention of communication? How does one determine the presence of an implied act of communication?

Reading Question 2/13

But there is another kind of seeing that involves a letting go. When I see this way I sway transfixed and emptied. The difference between the two ways of seeing is the difference between walking with and without a camera. When I walk with a camera I walk from shot to shot, reading the light on a calibrated meter. When I walk without a camera, my own shutter opens, and the moment’s light prints on my own silver gut. When I see this second way I am above all an unscrupulous observer” (Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek 8)

The term “gesalt” refers to groupings and our tendency to see patterns whenever possible. Human perception isn’t literal. We will close gaps, see motion, make partial shapes into whole ones in ways that are surprisingly predictable” (Johanna Drucker, Graphesis, 57)

Gesalt diagrams

Annie Dillard suggests there are two types of seeing which she  describes as walking with a camera and walking without (8).  These two ways of encountering visuals and understanding images around us makes me think of Johanna Drucker’s discussion on Gesalt diagrams and how human perception isn’t literal. She describes this further and goes on to say ” we don’t simply see what is in a mechanistic way. Instead, what is seen is what is made (57).

Is this type of seeing Drucker talks about “walking with a camera or walking without?” How do we make sense of the two types of seeing both Dillard and Drucker describe?

Reading Question – 2/13

The workings of power, the force of ideology, the transmission of values, and other abstract ideas have no specific visual form, even if they work through a material social world (22).”

“An eye looking at a line drawing a round shape that nearly closes on itself will tend to see a circle under many circumstances, just not all (48).”

“For a humanistic approach, these have to be designed as rhetorical arguments produced as a result of making, a poetics of graphical form, not in the reductive or abstract logics of Boolean algebra (54).”

The interpretation of visual forms will likely vary from person to person and culture to culture. We do recognize that many of these forms will be seen in common ways though. Knowing the commonality of visual forms has led to the desire to find a formal system of interpretation. We have found that this quickly breaks down. For one group a swastika can denote “well-being,” while for another “genocide.” Despite this, Johanna Drucker goes on to say that “the systematic analysis of ‘graphical language’ remains crucial,” though it cannot be the final focus (53).

How does a novice of “graphical language” begin their understanding of how these forms create knowledge? Is it useful to approach any language in the abstract as a beginner? Do we require building blocks, phonemes and coloremes, to lay a foundation for “nuanced solutions” to interpretation? Or does this miss the reality of how we become fluent in language altogether?

Reading Question for 2/6

Barry struck me with her observance of point of view in the house fire pictures. She says, “There is also the matter of where the viewer is standing: point of view. All of these things show up without effort–they are already in us” (104). I continuously noticed how she incorporated point of view into all of her students’ assignments (letters, fiction, house fire sketches). Barry recognizes that she cannot necessarily instruct them to view their work in a certain way because viewpoint is innate.

If it is constructed, how does one construct their viewpoint? Is it different between drawing and writing? [GMK]

Reading Questions 2/6

In her article, Wysocki refers to different types of materials that can be used in building communication and one of them is using space, “The Spaces of pages can also articulate with our larger sense of the spaces within which we read” (57). “We speaks of the various kinds of space we can use shape alphabetic text, then we speak of the tops and bottoms of pages, and of the left and right, and the placement of textual elements” (57). She emphasizes on the arrangement of alphabetic text in sending powerful messages by relying on the logic of space. She also called the SPACE between words as “Potentially Powerful Spaces”. The question is what should be categorized as powerful spaces and Not powerful spaces?  “In this social and cultural environment, with these demands for communication of these materials, for that audience, with these resources, and given these interests of mine, what is the design which best meets these requirements?” (56).  Is the best design to encourage rhetorical focus in our teaching rooted to the culture of our society?

I saw this poster at work and was wondering if the artist has used any potential powerful spaces to send his/her message!

Reading Questions: 2/6

“By focusing on the human shaping of material, and on the ties of material to human practices, we might be in better positions to ask after the consequences not only of how we use water but also of how we use paper, ink, and pixels to shape—for better or worse—the actions of others.” (Wysocki 59)

 (Barry 180)

Wysocki discusses the ways in which humans shape materials, and how we are often confined by the cultural implications of certain technologies. Barry, on the other hand, often discusses how materials and words shape us, and she gives several examples of poems, images, and colors that create and shape our memories and dreams.

Where, then, is the true intersection of modality, materiality, and our own imagination? Do the materials we use shape us? Or do we shape the modes and materials we use? [LW]

Reading Question

“This ancient ‘it’ is something I call ‘an image.’ By image I don’t mean a visual representation, I mean something that is more like a ghost than a picture; something which feels somehow alive, has no fixed meaning and is contained and transported by something that is not alive- a book, a son, a painting–anything we call an ‘art form’” (15).

–Lynda Barry, Syllabus


Barthes writes in Camera Lucida that punctum makes a photo more than a visual representation. In this passage, Barry seems to be referring to a similar phenomenon, but with an image. Since the referent of a drawing is not the same as the referent of a photograph, how would you describe its transference? What makes an image an image, and not merely a visual representation?