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May 28, 2013

Submitted by alycia on Tue, 05/28/2013 - 14:08
  • At the reference desk: "Resistance in the Materials" by Bethany Nowviske. Could not agree more:
    "Art objects, little mechanisms and technical experiments, cultural artifacts reproduced for teaching or research—cheap 3d-printing is one affirmation that words (those lines of computer code that speak each shape) always readily become things. That they kind of… want to. It’s like when I learned to set filthy lead type and push the heavy, rolling arm of a Vandercook press, when I should have been writing my dissertation."
  • On the train: "Computer Network Piecing Together a Jigsaw of Jewish Lore", and this article, catching up.

    More tidbits that I find important from the Nowviske piece, that I would have highlighted or underlined if I were reading in print:

    'You can’t have art,' Morris, the master craftsman of the Pre-Raphaelites had said, 'without resistance in the material.'
    "The very slowness with which the pen or the brush moves over the paper, or the graver goes through the wood, has its value.”

    “Morris condemned the typewriter for creative work,” Sparling tells us, saying that “anything that gets between a man’s hand and his work, you see, is more or less bad for him. There’s a pleasant feel in the paper under one’s hand and the pen between one’s fingers that has its own part in the work done.”

    Isn’t a sticky typewriter something to be worked against, or through—a defamiliarizing and salutary reminder of the material nature of every generative or transformative textual process?

    No matter the type, our tools had one thing in common: overwhelmingly, their own users had made ’em, and understood the continual and collective re-making of them, in response to various resistances encountered and discovered, as a natural part of the process of their use. In fact, this constructivist and responsive maker’s circle was so easily and unavoidably experienced as the new, collaborative hermeneutic of humanities computing, as the work itself that—within or beyond our small community—we too rarely bothered to say so.

    the massive, rapid, and inexorable conversion of our material cultural inheritance to digital forms.

    the loop from the physical to the digital to the material text and artifact again?

    The work we do is graphical and structural and interactive. It’s increasingly material and mobile, and it’s almost never made alone. Whatever it is, like any humanities theorizing it opens some doors and shuts others, but it’s a style of scholarly communication that differs sharply from the dominant, extravagantly vocal and individualist verbal expressions of the last fifty to sixty years. And like any craft it’ll always be under-articulated.

    For the most part, though, I suspect many of our colleagues just can’t tell: to them, everyone with direct access to the means of digital humanities production speaks, sometimes literally, in code.

    We’ve come to a moment of unprecedented potential for the material, embodied, and experiential digital humanities.

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