Manovich, "Data Visualization as New Abstraction and as Anti-Sublime"

 Manovich, Lev. "Data Visualization as New Abstraction and as Anti-Sublime."
Small Tech: The Culture of Digital Tools. Eds. Byron Hawk, David Reider,
and Ollie Oviedo. Electronic Mediations Ser. 22. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P,

Why render data visually? Lev Manovich, in "Data Visualization as New
Abstraction and as Anti-sublime," the opening chapter in Small Tech
(reprinted from ArtPhoto, 2003),
responds to this with an answer that, in spirit, moves beyond the "data
epistemology" of a cumbersome, old (perhaps even mythical) scientism. Why render
data visually? "[T]o show us the other realities embedded in our own, to show us
the ambiguity always present in our perception and experience, to show us what
we normally don’t notice or pay attention to" (9). By the end of this brief
article, Manovich begins to get round to the idea of a rhetoric of data
visualization, even if he never calls it this. Despite being caught up in a
representationalist framework as he accounts for what data visualization does,
Manovich eventually keys on "daily interaction with volumes of data and numerous
messages" as the "more important challenge" facing us. That is, we are
steeped now in a new "data-subjectivity."

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Speculative Instruments

I’ve taken lately to thinking about the thinspreaden feeling of dissertating
like this: the writing moves in a forward direction, advancing ideas and
discussions, attempting claims, suggesting reasons for limiting the discussion
to these few pages. The reading, on the other hand, moves in a backward
direction, filing through influences before influences before
influences–something like tracking the (non-)origin of the Missouri River.
Writing and reading in this way at once leads to the thinspreaden feeling–it is
a stretch.

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How Far Can We Drift?

I’ve been re-reading Cynthia Haynes’
"Writing Offshore: The Disappearing
Coastline of Composition"
over the past two days. I’d read it this spring, even
referred to it in my CCCC paper and in my dissertation prospectus. But
this time I wanted to work at it more slowly, soak in it.

This time around, I kept finding floating crumbs that made me think this is
the 50-page scholarly article version of China Mieville’s The Scar. I
probably can’t do justice to this in the time I have right now, but I will try.
Considering that The Scar is an adventure on the high seas about a
hybrid, hodge-podge floating city (Armada, as dappled and remade as composition
studies) and the fetishistic Lovers who command the peculiar conglomeration,
there are surprising tie-ins. [Spoiler alert.]

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Did Bitzer Draw?

Did Lloyd Bitzer ever draw his situational model? Or are all of the
visually rendered triangles drawn from his textual account?

If he didn’t draw it (I can’t find evidence that he did), are responses to
the model’s viability fueled instead by its proliferation as an abstraction
pulled (like a rabbit from a hat) out of Bitzer’s textual account? How did the
textual model evolve into a disciplinary fixture, a visual commonplace?
How was it translated from text to geometric figure? Should we enjoy free license
to convert anything with three points into a triangle?

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