Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hayles- Writing Machines

In an effort to emulate Hayles' writing style, I'm going to make this post as interactive as I possibly can. Be prepared though, as my 'HTML-foo' and my Java-te are not strong.

Hayles - the Good Stuff

Hayles' interpretation of Material Media as a message unto itself was a fantastic, and accurate recognition of an element used in communication not often realized. Hayles' assessment that previously, written text was considered a 'transparent' element that needed to be rethought was a real treat to hear.

I propose though, that all creation by people is strictly subject to its material creation and delivery. Not unlike McLuhan's mantra, 'The Medium is the Message' all things in our lives are strictly influenced by their delivery.

Example 1 is an .OGG file of a full harmonic orchestral rendition of 'Ode to Joy' musically arranged by Beethoven.

Example 2 is the same piece, but now performed on a simple keyboard- not unlike a MIDI format that was used on older, lower processing power computers that could not handle the complexities of fuller sounds.

Though the 'message', the actual piece of music, is performed the same- both are interpretations. The former, being more inline with the original performance as conducted by Beethoven, the later a more simplistic rendition. Each person must decide which is more pleasing their own tastes- and neither is more correct than the other. However, it is irrefutable that despite similar content, the packaging surrounding each package differs so greatly as to influence the content to be less like twin messages and more like an object as displayed in a fun house mirror; recognizable as related to the original, but with a new twist that could not have been conceived previously.

This concept, as first illustrated musically, and prior to that as illustrated by Hayles' textually, converts into the visual world as well.

here we have the original Mona Lisa- as painted by Da Vinci

here we have the artistic interpretation of the Mona Lisa by Duchamp

at first glance, the Duchamp interpretation appears to be the original with the addition of facial hair, however a closer analysis brings the viewer into the Lore of the Mona Lisa- questioning if it was in fact a self portrait of Da Vinci in drag, Duchamp actually has inserted himself into the work just as Da Vinci may or may not have inserted himself into the original.

article 1 supporting theory

article 2 supporting theory

Hayles - The Bad Stuff

Not all that Hayles writes is golden. Her 'quasi- autobiographical' stylized approach comes off as pompous and holier-than-thou. It seems like she's giving herself all the compliments about being intelligent she didn't receive enough as a child.

The one stylized impression she did make in the work was on page 121-122- where she inserted text as though it were written on a clear window. flipping the page showed the same text, but totally reversed, as if you were standing behind a translucent piece of paper. I thought this illustrated her point well about the interpretation of some of the artists' books she mentioned previously that have multiple reading paths. Probably one of her more subtle, and effective ploys throughout the entire work.

So what do I think of Hayles?

I found Hayles work to be very reminiscent of her scientific background. It was obvious of the influences that she had absorbed throughout her life, and her interpretation of text as a mutli-layer approach could not help but remind me of this:

to see the whole video go here: CLICKY CLICK

The whole idea of multiple layers of meaning trapped within the confines of one work just drips of inter-dimensional interpretation, which obviously brings into play the limitations of the reader.

This is my biggest gripe with Hayles- which is why I saved it for my knock out punch here (some knock out. . .not)

Hayles is so focused on the medium and sensory perception of the works she is trying to interpret as having deeper meaning she is totally overlooking the fact that all senses are not created equal to all viewers.

Her statement saying that Literature analysts must create deeper meaning as not to run out of finite resources hinges on the thought that all literary critics have the same pool of perceptions to draw from. She does nothing with the interpretations of literary works for the blind, the deaf, or any of a multitude of other perception distorters.

How do these great literary works translate in braille? do they have the same impact? Does Moby Dick offer the same insight when felt, rather then seen?

This was a topic left completely untouched by Hayles, and for a person who tooted her own horn so loudly, it would appear to me so overlooked a huge part of perception on the whole. How can we begin to understand anything in its entirety without first understanding the tools that may or may not be available to the viewer for use?

thats my rant folks.


*apologies for the format- if the font is going screwy at the end its because blogger is giving me fits*


mike's spot said...

PS- so I tried logging into the main google account so I could modify and spruce up this page a bit with a blog roll and other random stuff but couldn't get in.

anyone else having drama?

Lance Strate said...

Thanks for the video about dimensionality, I remember that one and it is very effective indeed, although not necessarily convincing. But it is important to at least understand the connection between a hypercube and hypertext. The point about braille, etc., makes sense, and I am certain it is a different experience, even more so when we listen to audiobooks. And while you are right to point out that individuals with certain disabilities will have different experiences, that is more the exception than the rule I'd think, and does not detract from the main argument about the experience of reading that most of us encounter.

Lance Strate said...

I should also add that I applaud you for all you put into this post!