1. tracy October 17th, 2009 10:23 am Reply

    I keep meaning to come back and comment on this but I forget. You don’t have many comments eh? I think that is because your image is a mindfuck. (sorry about the language but I can’t think of another word – and maybe my use of edgy language will draw more commentators :D ) When I first came to it, I tried clicking on the image thinking it was going to play a video – then I realised that it didn’t have an arrow in the centre. But that is what it looked like, when You Tube captures the thumbnail during a transition.

    Then I started looking into it. Like it was a crystal ball. Thinking “what is he trying to capture? a browsing moment?” I thought maybe you had layered screen shots of all the windows you have open at a given moment. (If I did that it would be incomprehensible… tabbed browsing made my world complete.)

    Anyway then I decided it was all parts of the same screen shot, or rather all from Wesche’s You Tube page. Why? No idea… like I said, mindfuck – maybe you just “heart” Wesch (I do too). However although I don’t ‘get’ your artifact I am digging the mental journey it took me on. ;-)

  2. Tony McNeill October 17th, 2009 12:00 pm Reply

    Hi Tracy, no, I don’t have many comments at all – except from you which is why you are my current favourite fellow student. This could change though if the comments dry up ;-) !

    I’m afraid my image is quite crude really. Firstly, it’s a screenshot of the Wesch video which is already very textual. Then, overlaid on top of it are a number of screen shots of other bits of the YouTube page the video is sitting in: comments, description, tags etc.. These were added as layers in Photoshop and their opacity lowered to 25% to allow the ‘bottom’ layer – i.e the original screenshot of the Wesch video – to show through.

    I had 10 mins spare and I wanted to make the point that although Kress may argue for the growing importance of the visual in digital culture as part of the move from ‘page to screen’, I still think text is king. Visual media sites like YouTube and Flickr are incredibly textual – titles, descriptions, comments, tags, sets, favourites, groups etc.. The visual is usually filtered through the prism of the textual or, if you prefer, we often apprehend the visual only once it has been mediated by text, shaping our expectations and interpretations.

    Sorry to disappoint: no mindfuck, just a crude image making (badly) a simple point.

  3. sian October 17th, 2009 12:55 pm Reply

    Ah, now I get it! Thanks Tony and Tracy. But isn’t Kress’s point not so much that the written text is dead, but that contemporary (digital) texts are designed according to the ‘logic of the image’. In other words, even if they are mainly textual, there are multiple ‘entry points’, user-defined reading paths and many ways in, in terms of where we start with making meaning. And this would apply to the YouTube screen, to the hypertext or to the new visually-informed print textbook design equally?

  4. Tony McNeill October 17th, 2009 5:12 pm Reply

    Thanks Sian, great comments meriting their own blog post.

  5. Sarah Payne October 17th, 2009 5:14 pm Reply

    Surely a collection of images still rely on an entry point if they are intended to tell a story? It is no good showing the images in a disjointed manner so we see the end before the beginning…

  6. Pingback October 17th, 2009 7:12 pm

    [...] comments on one of my visual artefacts has got me thinking about the arguments of Gunther Kress. In this [...]

  7. tracy October 18th, 2009 3:10 am Reply

    No disappointment at all, it made me think – and that is always a good thing ;-)

  8. Nicola Osborne October 18th, 2009 4:33 pm Reply

    OK firstly I agree with Tracy – Mindfuck is the word ;)

    Having read your blog post I’m not sure I’m entirely in agreement re Kress and visual vs. textual. Everything about the digital text is mediated by format, placement and other visual elements. Even in the physical world I will choose which care to sit in, which magazine or book to buy, which CD to listen to partly on the basis of font. Yes, it does sound ridiculous but I know it has super high impact for me.

    One of the interesting things about web 2.0 (which I agree puts text in rude health) is how similar the design and layout of sites tends to be as these visual shortcuts lead you in a way that text cannot replace. Layout and visual shortcuts lead behaviour and in an attention deprived space you need you users to be able to work out the function and usage of your site as quickly as possible. Icons become ubiquitous (smilies, mini avatars, calendar, link, logout icons all appear in the tiny corner of this page that I am now looking at or instance) and globally recognized icons are crucial to navigate the space – RSS icons, blank facial boxes to indicate an incomplete profile, stars for favourite pages, brand logos. Indeed strong but similarly formatted (the square is king) logos really matter in a web 2.0 world where social services appear across many sites and must flag up their inclusion in a tiny amount of screen estate.

    The new Windows Mobile ad* is perhaps the biggest recent endorsement of the value of digital brand logos – they are attempting to sell handsets with the new OS almost entirely on the basis of logos and, key to this, Facebook and Twitter despite neither of these being Windows owned icons. You also see an enormous number of cameras with YouTube logos which help sell the camera on the basis of compatibility as the logo is shortcut to understanding what is possible (even though just about all cameras that take video would be compatible with/without the logo). I think this is the same thinking that saw the “intel inside” logo proliferate on computers in the ’90s. The brand is just as powerful as it ever was and on the small screen of a computer (or a smaller mobile screen) that brand logo must concisely communicate coherent values and link to core functionality carrying much more weight than was ever expected in a print world.

    *I could only find a link to the French dub which seems to include Twitter but exclude Facebook: http://www.strimoo.com/video/17497099/Pub-Windows-phone-Ad-Dailymotion.html

  9. silvanad October 18th, 2009 11:51 pm Reply

    Hi Tony,

    Like Tracy, I didn’t get that it wasn’t a video. I just thought something was the matter that it didn’t work. (Thanks Tracy for figuring it out!) And with your explanation Tony, I understand what you are doing. But in this case, the dominant image was the YouTube video and when the video didn’t work most of us thought there was an error (except for the brilliant Tracy). So this visual needed textual support – which is your point – so it worked!

  10. Tony McNeill October 19th, 2009 10:40 am Reply

    @Nicola Osborne
    Hi Nicola,
    Great comments – I wasn’t sure you were disagreeing with Kress or with my take on Kress. I think the latter but I thought your arguments could be read as opposing Kress’s distinction too. I like your key point that “Everything about the digital text is mediated by format, placement and other visual elements”, underlining the point that most digital texts are designed spaces that, as you put it “lead behaviour” (i.e. what element users should to attend to first, where to go next). But I think this argument is in opposition to Kress who claims that digital texts, often informed by the logic of the image, have multiple entry points and reading paths. Your argument, if I interpret it correctly, is that readers/viewers’ attention is directed to a single entry point and a generally single reading path. Finally, you mention the unitentionally funny microsoft phone ad as exemplifying the power of the logo and the brand it stands in for. I sort of agree about their power but hasn’t it always been thus (i.e. not a characteristic of a presumed ‘new media age’) – e.g, coca-cola, Mercedes? Strange things now is that ‘cool’ brands are, more often than not, techie (Apple, Google etc.).

  11. Pingback December 14th, 2009 12:07 am

    [...] 1 than perhaps any of the other blocks. I took another stab at creating more visual artefacts (still and moving images) and got into an interesting discussion with Sian about Kress (who I find [...]

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