Jim Andrews, Morph and Metaphor

Jim Andrews posted this on Empyre a couple of weeks back, and I emailed him to ask his permission to reproduce it, which he kindly granted. Just particularly liked the relation of morph as metaphor, sort of “yeah, ok” but if you spend some time thinking about it properly, which I guess means seriously, then it is a powerful idea. I’m thinking of Ricoeur’s work on metaphor in particular and how this might give a hook into a visual register.

Jim Andrews jim at vispo.com
Mon Oct 20 04:07:06 EST 2003

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morph as figure of code.morph as metaphor.i made a java applet in 96 to display morphs called ‘Morph Tea’ (anagram for’metaphor’).morph as in transformation.most of the morphs currently on my homepage at http://vispo.com are of people. but also of the egg word of ur etc. language. transformation of the word.in the digital, word, image, and sound are transformed to information, pliable, binary, transformable, electric, discrete liquid.the morph is a kind of digital alternative to metaphor. related to metaphor. metaphor is this is that. is. morphing is also concerned with the transformation, with the coming to be, process.i once had the pleasure of hearing minsky the great artificial intelligencer lecture. he said he felt that the computer’s big contribution to knowledge was in how it furthers our understanding of processes.

MPEG 2 and QuickTime

There’s a MPEG-2 playback component that you can get that allows QuickTime to read MPEG 2. You have buy the thing, I think because of the licensing arrangements around MPEG 2.

More on QuickTime 6.4

Just found the real documentation for what is new in QuickTime 6.4 The list is detailed and orientated towards developers. I have noticed though that some of my recent vogs are now broken. Where I had a text track scrolling in and out and a script that allowed the font size to be altered, it now appears to just make the text track not visible. I’ve done some testing and by not having the text track scroll the problem goes away. But for the time being I have works that don’t work!

Image and Narrative

Found the journal Image and Narrative via GrandTextAuto (thanks), it is dedicated to visual narrative, under the editorship of Jan Baetens. Seriously good and valuable work and very relevant to the research and fiddling I do these days.

Paying for Kung Log

Have finally made a donation paypals payment for Kung Log, which really is a fantastic blog publishing tool. A lot of my peers are often surprised at how regularly I pay for share and donation ware. Seems to me to be pretty straight forward, someone worked to make the tool, if it is good enough for me to keep using, then it seems reasonable to pay a reasonable amount. I’ve been online for a fair number of years and very much have adopted the early net culture of co-operation and peer support, and well remember that virtually all the tools I first used, no, all the tools, were for free and developed by the university sector. I particularly like the shareware model for Kung Log since its model of trust includes identifying yourself as a student or unemployed (so the software is free) or what you can afford in terms of what you think it is worth.

The Iowa Guide

The Iowa Guide. This is a great site. It lists various media and communication publications and you can find out about publication requirements, acceptance rates and the like. Had no idea any one had collected this sort of information. Delivered out of FileMaker too.

Peer Review, Academic Labor, and Publishing

Picking up from many of the discussions about academic publishing that have occurred in the sciences, I recently made this suggestion on the (primarily) Australian Fibreculture email list:

Imagine a database which publishes peer reviewed work via http. The system is designed to offer structured feedback and mentoring not only of those receiving reviews, but also those doing the reviewing.

  1. I submit a paper and nominate the fields and/or discplines (from set choices) that I
  2. think it fits into
  3. as a possible author I agree to also be a reviewer (this is a requirement)
  4. where I also nominate a series of fields and/or disciplines that I have expertise in
  5. these fields which represent the disciplines would be derived from an existing metadata standard,
  6. and if one doesn’t exist then the project would develop one
  7. the system automatically allocates 3 anonymous reviewers based on the preferences made by each contributor
  8. my paper is anonymously reviewed by 3 others
  9. these reviews are well structured (template and process driven)
  10. and the author gets access to these reviews and
  11. the author is able to rate these reviews (template and process driven)
  12. during this process, which would support resubmission, the paper must meet miminum requirements for publication
  13. this minimum number would be determined by averaging the reviews received, measured against the reviewers ranks as reviewers
  14. if accepted the paper is published and identified as peer reviewed
  15. probably only after you have completed your 3 reviews (quid pro quo)
  16. since reviewers are rated by authors and authors are rated by reviewers
  17. over time an expert peer driven system is built which can then weight participants so that
  18. reviewer A is known as high quality and receives a high review rank, while
  19. reviewer B who is not much chop receives a low review rank

The benefits of this are multiple.

First of all the academic labour that constitutes a great deal of scholarly publishing is made visible, not only in the requirements of becoming a reviewer to publish, but by the use of straight forward and standardised feedback protocols to structure feedback. This models good practice, so provides professional development for new academics, and may also improve the quality of feedback generally (which in the humanities can be abysmal).

Once established, there is virtually zero cost involved, apart from bandwidth (which could admittedly be considerable), as the system is more or less self organising and self sustaining.

The engine could be entirely scalable so that new discipline groups could be easily added.

It moves scholarly publication into a quite different temporal model because rather than being volume based articles would appear whenever sufficient reviews had been completed and appropriate ‘criteria’ met. This would mean that in some cases publication would in fact be issue based, though in the more usual sense of timely interest, as a spate of papers may appear dealing with a specific theme because of interest or debate.

Finally, the criteria used throughout this system would be explicit, and though qualitative would have some quantitative index (a rank) so not only the papers but the values that constitute ‘good’ work would also then be subject to peer review and discussion. In the same manner reviewing as a professional practice would be subject to review. Of course all indicators would be anonymous, so that my reviewer identity would be some sort of number, for instance, which only I would know.

This would, of course, be just the beginning. Complex visualisation strategies could be employed to represent content and the emergent clusters that developed through such a system, generating in itself a whole series of new research problems and programs. For example the system could easily build and represent citational frequency clusters, visualise link patterns, and so forth. It might even help some parts of the humanities catch up to the sciences in reimagining what constitutes knowledge production, expression, and dissemination.

Text and Image

The result of a Google search for ‘xml schema emotion’. I’ve no idea what it says but I enjoy the graphic commentary courtesy of the character.

Affective Computing

Well, a busy day researching online and I find MIT’s affective computing project. This is really intriguing stuff, particularly since I met someone called Floyd the other day, formerly at MIT, who has worked on video capture metadata systems that capture and record affect as metadata while the video is being shot. That suggests all sorts of very interesting projects and possible archival systems… Not to mention delivery engines (imagine setting a slider so you only viewed content that met specified emotional or affective criteria.)

Thank You, Timo Arnall

While doing some research about XML, metadata and affect I found the elasticspace experience design reading page. A seriously good annotated book list about interaction design, info architecture et al.

Blogging Futures

This article over at The Feature on blogging discusses moblogging, photoblogging, audioblogging and suggests that video blogging might have a future. The business model for Audblog is interesting, and could be useful for getting a vog application up and running. Of course it might not be that different to what Apple’s originally free .Mac service offered in terms of ease of publishing of those iMovie hits, but with the provision of blog style tools there may be a market to develop this. From my point of view a business model makes getting funding much, much, easier.

Dan Winckler

Dan has been doing a video blog since June 2003. His practice, to date, is very specific, with each work more or less of the same length and generally concentrating on a series of abstractions derived from footage shot and what I assume are postproduction effects. The work, according to the page, is inspired by the work of William Gibson, and I’m assuming his most recent book, Pattern Recognition.

This would suggest that the individual video entries are part of a larger whole, and so it is definitely a serialised work in a way that most blogs, and video blogs, while assuming regularlity of publication, don’t quite accept, as in the general blog aesthetic explicit serialisation is rare. It also indicates that the individual pieces are intentionally abstract, so that while they offer an exploration of a particular video aesthetic they are also as much about the series. It is unclear if the individual pieces do form a specific and ‘closed’ whole, if and when the series ends, though given the first works are specifically collage experiments some idea of an alternative collage practice is probably indicated.

The abstraction at work is quite specifically video, not only because of its use of digital effects but also in the regular fascination with phosphorescent light and its avatars. Video as an electronic image (as opposed to film’s chemical and projected luminosity) is drawn to such light, the sort of electric click click of the contemporary street, and in Winckler’s work this forms the primary subject matter. This is most obvious in “5” which is the most referential of these pieces. Here the camera finds a flickering pulsing fluorescent tube and moves towards it, eventually moving in to an almost extreme close up of a X marked on the tube (in tape?). There is a glimpse of the street behind but its stuttering glow is what draws us, much like moths, and gives this video a found object everyday sort of quality.

As far as vogs go, there is no interactivity at work in the video, it is pretty much click and play, but their abstraction and the consistency of the idea and material shifts this work into something that is not just a dull documenting, nor a use of video online that is struggling with its own material conditions. It knows what it is about, why it is online, and it is not pretending to be television – all major plusses. What it appears to be is an experiment in treating low bit rate video as an experimental creative practice which wants to build or develop depth through regularity and constancy of its serialised form, which means no individual work stands out, but neither ought individual works be ignored.

I think it is this quality that offers a lot for thinking about vogging, since I suspect succesful vogs, as a genre, will need to combine the acuity of a well observed or crafted observational event (narrative, fiction or nonfiction, or perhaps a more experimental practice) with consistency. This is what good blog writing already does, it is just easier to write to the moment than it might to be shoot and publish to the moment. For now, anyway.