- Oct 2017
smooth/rough shiny/dull hot/cold soft/hard light/dark transparent/opaque up/down in/out sta bility/insta bili ty torwa rd/backwanl vertical/horizontal straight/curved or crooked light/heavy chin/thick dean/dirty
The process of characterizing physical attributes is a very straightforward and seemingly uncreative, which may be unconventional for writers. Interestingly enough, computers thrive on performing logical tasks. In a TED talk in 2015, Fei-Fei Li talks about making computers able to understand images. Similar techniques have even been used to read people's dreams, where electrical signals are logged and arranged as an image, and a computer attempts to characterize what the person was "seeing". Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign took it a step further and wrote the paper "Describing Objects by their Attributes". In it they discussed how they were able to "develop computer vision algorithms that go beyond naming and infer the properties or attributes of objects".
In the video, Fei-Fei Li explains the process her research team used to teach a computer how to recognize objects in images. This process was started by showing the computer gigantic amounts of processed images to allow it to train. At 7:35, SHEEEE mentions that thousands of employees worked together to organize and label over a billion images. This process reminded me of the metadata mentioned by Morna Gerrard in our visit to the Archives. Much like categorizing archives helps us identify the information we want, the categorization of images aids a computer to find what it is looking at.
I think it would be interesting to have technology contributing in the first steps of Prowian Analysis, since their logical approach to solving problems might allow us to have more detailed and thorough descriptions. Perhaps one day, technology will be able to take it a step further and make assumptions about the meaning of physical attributes, allowing material culture to be partly automated.
they cover over 150 years of American history,
This text was written by two professors who specialize in American art and culture. Material culture is obviously not limited to studying American history, it can be applied anywhere. For example, Marianne Hulsbosch, Elizabeth Bedford, and Martha Chaiklin analyze the culture of different regions in Asia in their book called "Asian Material Culture" (link provided bellow). I would actually argue that material culture is not quite as useful for American history as it would be for others, since the history is relatively "new" and well-documented (if we exclude the limited artifacts that exist of Native American culutres). Material culture analysis is a very useful tool for studying ancient civilizations, which might not have documented every aspect of their lives and history, but have left behind relics and artifacts that showcase what their societies used and valued. By analyzing aspects of ancient objects, such as attention to detail in decoration or their physical condition, we can make conclusions about what life was like thousands of years ago.
This image could be a prime example of history being discovered through material culture rather than the studying of texts. These dice could have been a very common recreational game in the lower classes of a civilization. Since the game was fairly known and popular only among the poor, the upper class scholars might have considered it unimportant to document this activity. Even though no text evidence would reference the dice, we would be able to utilize material culture to analyze the role of these artifacts in the ancient society. By noticing how frequently they appeared, the cheap materials used to make them, and the crude design work, historians could conclude that these artifacts were not a luxury product and were used by the common people.
Sources: http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.gsu.edu/ehost/detail/detail?vid=0&sid=290b1925-1046-44ec-9edc-49e64a048b24%40sessionmgr103&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#AN=297832&db=nlebk , http://www.reed.edu/humanities/110Tech/MaterialCulture.html
We can u-;e this mode to communicate representations of how something look~
What counts as a visual mode of communication can become a bit confusing in certain cases.
For example, authors of fantasy fiction these days rely heavily on the reader to imagine visuals. They carefully describe physical objects and scenes, much like in Prownian Analysis or our descriptions of the AIDS Quilt panels, to cause the reader to "see" things that they might have never seen or imagined before. I realize that using writing would technically fall under the category of the linguistic mode of communication, but this descriptive writing exists to evoke our visual senses. These authors depend on us visualizing the worlds that they create to tell their story. If this communication uses our "visual-spatial intelligence" according to the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, should it not be considered a mix of the visual and linguistic modes?
The visual mode refers to the use of images and other characteris-tics that readers see
I think that the importance that "other characteristics" can have as a visual mode is commonly overlooked. The layout of a webpage can communicate to the reader what to emphasize on, the color of an "Open/Closed" sign can communicate the status of a restaurant from beyond a legible distance, and the size of a specific visual object on a billboard can communicate what exact product is being advertised.
A good example of the utilization of visual modes of communication without the direct use of an image is visual poetry. This type of poetry is known for having dominant visual elements. A common technique of achieving this is using the words of the poem to create the perception of a shape or image.
This is a good example of a simple visual poem. The topic of the poem is coffee, hence the writer adjusted the layout of the text to create a shape. This shape is perceived by our minds as a coffee mug, even though there is no actual picture of one.
On an interesting side note: the reason we are able to perceive this image is due to the Gestalt psychology. This is a philosophy of mind of the Berlin School of experimental psychology which studies the self-organizing tendencies of the human brain (especially with images). According to this psychological phenomenon, our mind is always trying to find patterns in the data it receives and many times organizes sets of randomness in order to perceive them as a whole. This is why the seemingly random positions of the words in the poem cause our mind to try to find a pattern in the darker areas of the poem's white background, eventually leading us to seeing a coffee mug.
modes of communication
Interestingly, these five modes of communication correlate to Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences. In 1983 he published the book "Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences," which outlined a model in which people's intelligence was not determined solely by their general ability (also known as IQ or the g factor). Gardner believed believed that types of intelligence were required to fulfill eight criteria:
1) the potential for brain isolation by brain damage
2) its place in evolutionary history
3) the presence of core operations
4) susceptibility to encoding
5) a distinct developmental progression
6) the existence of idiot-savants, prodigies and other exceptional people
7) support from experimental psychology
8) support from psychometric findings.
He then proposed nine types of intelligence that would satisfy these criteria: musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, and existential (The last one was added after the initial eight). The chart bellow shows the types of intelligence with visual queues and a simpler wordings.
It is interesting that these modes of communication can associate to what Gardner would consider different functions of the brain (Linguistic mode of communication with verbal-linguistic intelligence, visual and spatial modes of communication with visual-spatial intelligence, aural communication with musical-rhythmic intelligence, and gestural communication with bodily-kinesthetic intelligence). Perhaps this indicated that by including multiple modes of communication in our writing for this class (or in any writing), we are able to target more parts of the brain and keep the audience more engaged. This would also mean that according to the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, a multimodal text would have a broader appeal since people lacking on a certain type of intelligence would be able to understand the text through whichever mode of communication suits their strength and preference more. For example, a heavy text with many visuals would be more easy for "picture smart" people (as the graphic above would indicate) to connect with.
Sources: Gardner, H. (1999). Intelligence reframed: Multiple intelligences for the 21st century. New York: Basic Books.
Image source: Linkedin Blog - https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/theory-multiple-intelligences-potential-applications-silva-fca-
Katie Couric is an American journalist and author who is mostly known for her television news roles. She has a been a host on all of the "Big Three" television networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC). She has also worked as a daytime talk show host. such as being a "Today" co-host. She is also famous for becoming the first woman to anchor "CBS Evening News" alone in 2006 and being a "60 Minutes" correspondent. Some of her distinctions include being inducted to the Television Hall of Fame in 2004 and having a New York TImes best-selling book. She recently worked as the Yahoo! Global News Anchor.
The gestural mode, along with the visual mode, is another mode of communication that is deeply engraved in humans instincts. Scientific evidence even proves that the recognition of basic human expressions is universal regardless of cultural background. Scientific research has proven that there generally are seven emotions that all humans recognize through facial expressions: "anger, contempt, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise" (Matsumoto, 2008).
The image above shows sample images of emotions in a study done by Dr. Matsumoto which proved the universality of their recognition.
It may take too many pictures to convey the same idea quickly
I think the author is ignoring a key aspect of the advantages of multimodal communication. Using multiple modes allows an audience that does not have access to every type of mode (ex: a user with a muted device) or can not comprehend every mode (ex: a dyslexic person who has difficulty reading) to still receive the information being communicated. For example, in our Primary Source Descriptions we included images, which were by far the most effective way of communicating the description of the Quilt panel, but still included detailed text descriptions. This would aid people who can not load the images in our posts or are blind (therefore using the text through text-to-speech or Braille to receive the information). In conclusion, people should not choose a mode simply due to its advantage for a communication, they should also consider the audience reach that their mode would have. For example, in the 1930s an animated cartoon (without sound) would have done a better job at communicating a story, but a comic book (without speech bubbles) would have been easier to access.
The information is organized in map form (the spatial mode),
I find the use spatial modes to be extremely helpful when trying to comprehend things, especially data. If we go by the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, I might be considered a person who relies on their "spatial intelligence" frequently.
For example, when analyzing historical events in a class, I appreciate having an accurate timeline that is spaced out to scale. This way I can put important time periods or the long lasting effects of an event in perspective. I believe that people can not appreciate the length of the dynastic rule in China until they see how long (for physical timelines "long" is in the literal sense) it was and how many well-known events of the Western world took place during its existence. Additionally, people seem to forget how long the planet Earth has existed until shown the tiny portion of its timeline that the entire course of human history occupies.
Even just recently I remember using spatial modes of displaying information to help my research colleagues understand an issue. Since some data from a research paper we were referencing had data that was not consistently sampled, we could not accurately replicate their experiment to test their results and input data into deep learning programs. I decided to represent the data using spaced out visuals to explain my suggested method for predicting information within those data gaps.
The visual mode might be the most universal form of communication. Psychology and biology studies have proven that humans are hard-wired to react in certain ways depending on visuals. For example, the color red instinctively draws a human's attention since it is a sign of danger. That is why stop signs and traffic lights are red, they cause drivers to instantly be alert in order to avoid accidents. I think that because the visual mode is so universal, it could be used to solve the problem presented by James Conca in his article "Talking to the Future -- Hey, There's Nuclear Waste Buried Here!". Initially I considered a red sign with the classic skull and crossbones to signify a deadly threat. However the truth is that within human history the symbolism for death has been very different for each culture. For example, the Ancient Greeks never portrayed Death as a menacing or evil character, since they knew death was inevitable and sometimes even considered it the path to an honorable sacrifice or a peaceful end of suffering. Since we do not know if future generations will use a dark hooded figure, or a dirty old woman, or a skeleton wielding a scythe as their symbol for Death, we should probably stick to simpler design. I think red should be a main color (since it will evoke the human instinct for danger) along with black (since it has proved to be a basic color to represent evil in most cultures throughout time). Perhaps the simplest solution would be a depiction that would use the human empathy to communicate the hazard of nuclear waste, such as an exaggerated illustration of a suffering human.
Sources: Conca, James. "Talking to the Future -- Hey, There's Nuclear Waste Buried Here!" Forbes, 17 Apr. 2015, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2015/04/17/talking-to-the-future-hey-theres-nuclear-waste-buried-here. Accessed 2 October 2017.
One of my favorite sound effects in movies is called the "Shepard's Tone" and I consider it's impact as an aural mode to be surprisingly effective.
This video explains how Hans Zimmer composed the soundtrack of the movie "Dunkirk" using the Shepard's Tone and shows examples of it in other movies directed by Christopher Nolan or soundtracks composed by Hans Zimmer. In the video, the musical mechanics behind the Shepard's Tone are explained. From 0:41 to 1:28 the video analyzes the process of using "several tones separated by an octave layered on top of each other" to create an illusion of a constant ascending tone that never ends. This effect causes viewers of the movies the soundtracks are featured in to feel a rising sensation of suspense. I consider this to be one of the most powerful aural modes for communicating intensity and suspense in a soundtrack or movie.
volume of sound
The volume of a sound plays a big role on the importance we give to it over other sounds, and tha amplitude of the mood created by it. In the real world a sound that is constantly increasing causes us to instinctively focus our attention on it because it indicates that an object is getting closer. An example of this is our instinct to look in the direction of an increasing volume of engine sound when crossing the road, as a way of avoiding collision with approaching cars. Volume can also play an affect on how we perceive it. For example, the volume of a happy comment could indicate the level of excitement the person saying it is experiencing. Another example is the volume of dark music during a horror film. The viewer is able to recognize how eminent a threat is to the character simply through the increase or decrease of the music's volume. This communication of a "threat-level" can greatly impact the fear a viewer feels even when lowering the volume, by creating a sense of safety and then suddenly switching to a "jump-scare."
- Sep 2017
These more emotional deductions serve as a bridge to speculation about meaning.
The connection between the physical matter and emotions most easily noticed in art. When viewing a sculpture, a painting, a film, or a photograph, the physical aspects of the art are meant to evoke an emotional response or to showcase the emotions of the artist. A sculpture made of a rough materials and with harsh surfaces might be meant to display feelings of aggression or danger. A film or photograph with dark lighting might be trying to portray a scene in a more dramatic and sorrowful context. As the South African composer Kevin Volans stated, art should be treated "not as an object in this world but as a window into another world."
Having addressed an object intellectually, and experienced it actually or empathetically with our senses, one turns, generally not without a cer-tain pleasure and relief, to matters more subjective. How does the object make one feel?
This reminds me of our class discussion about the "rhetorical triangle". The text seems to indicate that our though process and analysis should move from a "logos" point-of-view to a "pathos" one. This makes sense, since the student can use their more factual descriptions of an object as a starting point to analyze what they mean through emotion.
Srudents engaged in this process also confront their own point-of-view as discrete, distinguishable, and con-structed.
As this text mentions, John Maguire also believes that approaching writing with a more physical aspect in minf can lead to the "discrete, distinguishable, and con-structed" point-of-view that Prowian Analysis aims to teach the student. He mentions that adding physical objects in their reasoning leads to the inclusion of examples, and that eventually the student's "thinking on paper is clearer" .
Kenneth Haltman is a Professor of Art History at the University of Oklahoma. He has a B.A. from Wesleyan University in Comparative Literature, Creative Writing, and Translation and a Ph.D. from Yale University in American Studies. He has many important publications, such "American Artifacts: Essays in Material Culture" (this text) and a translation of René Brimo's classic study of American patronage and art collecting. He mainly deals with historical American art and its relation to the culture of the United States.
The definition of "anthology" is "a collection of selected literary pieces or passages or works of art or music". Interestingly enough however, the Ancient Greek words of this word are "ἄνθος" (anthos), which means "flower", and "λέγειν" (legein), which means "to pick" or "to say". This formed the word "ἀνθολογία" (anthologia), which initially meant "the gathering of flowers". It eventually evolved in Greek to also mean its current definition because of Meléagros of Gadara comparing anthologized poets to flowers in one of the first anthologies ever, "The Garland". This is why the New Latin meaning of the word became "a collection of epigrams" and got was adopted by romance languages.
Sources: https://el.wiktionary.org/wiki/%CE%B1%CE%BD%CE%B8%CE%BF%CE%BB%CE%BF%CE%B3%CE%AF%CE%B1 , http://perseus.uchicago.edu/perseus-cgi/morph.pl?id=905329&prev=true&lang=greek , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthology , https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anthology , my knowledge of Ancient and Modern Greek.
we do not analyze objects; we analyze our descriptions of objects
This concept was mentioned earlier in the text, when Kenneth Haltman quoted Michael Baxandall idea that "We do not explain pictures: we explain remarks about pictures" (page 4). I believe this means that by focusing on certain aspects of an object, we show which topics and aspects of the object we care about. We "analyze" our descriptions because we choose to comment on the physical descriptions we find worth discussing. As the next point states, we truly "do not really see with clarity what we have not said" about the object.
You may very rea-sonably be interested in learning what previous historians have made of your object or others like it,
A good historical comparison would be with the way the Ancient Greek astronomers interpreted star constellations. They not only noticed patterns which they used for navigation and science, they also assigned the constellations certain meanings and characteristics, usually relating to mythology. For example, Plato called the universe the "Spindle of Necessity" and Aristotle saw the planets as "heavenly bodies."
The method works because of the deceptively straightforward simplicity of freely choosing an object and describing it.
In the article "The Secret to Good Writing: It's About Objects, Not Ideas", John Maguire also mentions the simplicity of dealing with objects. His advice for becoming more specific was to simply "put physical objects in" essays. Additionally, much like the "deceptively straightforward" style is mentioned here, Maquire states that the concept of including physical object in written works is "hard to get the idea across" since it disobeys the modern writing conventions.
- Aug 2017
that particular individual to uncover some significant meaning in that particular object.
Objects can have "significant meaning" in different ways depending on the individual's point of view, their historical context, and their current everyday use. For example, in the article "What Is a Machete, Anyway?", John Cline outlines the variations in the interpretation of a machete. A child views it as a weapon, "a real sword", the authorities view it as a dangerous weapon, and the Illinois farmers view it as a "corn knife" tool. The object can even have political and cultural significance. It was a symbol for the Cuban rebels who used machetes in sugar plantation and the mistreated workers of the banana industry in Jamaica who used it for harvesting fruit.
The fruits of one's research are not co he presented as some-how self-explanatory, but rather as evidence introduced in support of claims. The object, in other words, must not be seen as a good illustration of something outside of itself-an historical milieu, for instance, or maker's intent-but rather such contextual phenomena be introduced into evidence as illuminating some aspect of the object's own intrinsic interest or mean-ing.
Providing proof to support claims is an important aspect of writing well. According to John Maguire, many of today's students are missing "the skill of giving specific concrete examples in an essay.' He also argues that being specific can be achieved by writing "with physical objects" since "abstract ideas derive from objects."
Professor Emeritus in the History of Art at Yale (retired in 1999). He has a special interest in early American culture and founded the Yale Center for British Art. He has received many honors and scholarships for his famous teaching skills and books.
Matenal culture begins with a world of objects bur takes place in a world of words. While we work 14With" material objects, i.e. refer "to" rhem, the medium in which we work as cultural historians is language.
Material culture completely depends on its physical aspect. It relies on the feelings that people derive from actually having objects or the uses we have for them, not the conversations we have about them. Simply mentioning objects with words does not mean material culture "takes place in a world of words."