A New Alphabet (2004)

Abstract: A New Alphabet: Language, Embodiment and Digital Literacy

A New Alphabet: Language, Embodiment and Digital Literacy is a monograph of approximately sixty-five pages, organized as an alphabet primer on the subject of embodiment in an experimental essay employing pictographic language, poetry and commentary. The divergent format engages theoretical lexicons of meaning, literally, literately and figuratively in an ever-widening circle of discourse.

Taking the premise that iconographic language reconfigures standardized treatments of printed matter; the visually complex and sometimes stunning alphabet pages evoke new contexts of reading.

Hovering on the border between digital and analog modes of reading (viewing) and writing (text/content production), A New Alphabet experiments with formats in page design and assemblage of image and text to constitute new lexicographical relations. The thirty alphabet pages are displayed on the right page (recto) with commentary on the left page (verso). The divergent left and right page format ...

Full Description

Abstract: A New Alphabet: Language, Embodiment and Digital Literacy

A New Alphabet: Language, Embodiment and Digital Literacy is a monograph of approximately sixty-five pages, organized as an alphabet primer on the subject of embodiment in an experimental essay employing pictographic language, poetry and commentary. The divergent format engages theoretical lexicons of meaning, literally, literately and figuratively in an ever-widening circle of discourse.

Taking the premise that iconographic language reconfigures standardized treatments of printed matter; the visually complex and sometimes stunning alphabet pages evoke new contexts of reading.

Hovering on the border between digital and analog modes of reading (viewing) and writing (text/content production), A New Alphabet experiments with formats in page design and assemblage of image and text to constitute new lexicographical relations. The thirty alphabet pages are displayed on the right page (recto) with commentary on the left page (verso). The divergent left and right page format may suggest the dichotomy of brain hemispheres.

Eschewing rational understanding the alphabet pages cast doubt on conventions of academic discourse, inviting intuitive reading/viewing of the subject within the mindscape of the viewer. This work is interested in the evolution of consciousness and how changes in the mechanics of the recording, and reading of collective cultural material, interact with the mechanics of perception, thought apprehension and concept recognition

As an exploration of an evolution in process, A New Alphabet is both experiential and theoretical in its presentation emphasizing how visual images become encoded characters in a new alphabet of collective reference, as an effect of postmodern and digital culture.

Theories of embodiment have now become the locus of post-post-structuralism discourse mitigated by the eluvium of new media. A historical parallel between the current technological revolution and the enlightenment with the invention of the printing press, is observed. In both periods a heightened interest in embodiment occurs and this may be a marker of cultural transition.

This work traces the current interest in the body back to the 1960s beat and avant-garde movements. The academy articulates cultural movements. A New Alphabet observes how the term embodiment becomes a buzzword or metaphor in postmodern discourse and
catalogues several facets of embodiment theory including: Charles Peirce's philosophy of the mechanics of mind and the works of Charles Lakoff with Mark Johnson (The Body in the Mind).

New theory on cognition and perception such as Mary Barry?s Visual Intelligence that explore relationships between language and cognition, inform this new alphabet. The work also reviews editorial studies of how text is embodied on the page with the research of Jerome McCann (The Rossetti Archive online), Johanna Drucker (The Visible Word) and George Bornstein and Theresa Tinkle (The Iconic Page).

The metaphor of the body is a unifying graphic feature of the alphabet. Images from fine art are transposed into icons of the human body to make a visual skin for the page text. The western tradition of iconography and portraiture are noted.

On the matter of language and alphabets this work briefly follows the archeology of linguistic migration to discover the present distillation of languages into a global standard using English. As this standard is formalized, the simultaneous emergence of iconography indicates the instability of trends in language migration.

Gender studies fostered several theories about embodiment. The Cyborg theory of Donna Haraway (The Cyborg Manifesto), Katherine Hayles? (How We Become Posthuman) and Informatics theory are contrasted with the body-centered approach of Nicole Brossard (Picture Theory) and Luce Irigaray (Speculum).

Several discussions of digital culture are followed including Richard Grusin's and Jay Bolter's Remediation. Lev Manovich's aesthetics of database and the anonymous Digital Manifesto claim the aesthetics of software logic is the signifying theoretical feature of digital culture.

The representation of text in moving formats or cinetypography is introduced. Situated in the flux of new media this work demonstrates and reflects emerging modes without the limitations of specialization. This long view scans the many nuances and facets of the prototypic digital culture as it evolves.

A New Alphabet Language Embodiment and Digital Literacy

Contents

Introduction - A note on Method front piece - Gallery The Letters A is Avant - abstract signs Codify Literal Bodies of text a Beginning Em-bodied in Textual Usage I-con cyborg Coherence dear 2D digital Dimension eye see fauna Skins engine of Language how Hi I Imagine All l malleable meaning nude Nature paper Printing - William Blake poetry Quarles? Worm Recursive Script?s skin typography visible Venus Uncovered X Www.wireless Why Zed List of Figures Works Cited Acknowledgments Epilogue

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