Eloquent Images II

Wysocki – "Seriously Visible," 37-59
First, hypertexts, in their affordances of choice, are inherently engaging, and
these engaging properties (engagementalities?) extend to civic and democratic
practices (freedom, liberty, etc.).  Second, predominantly visual documents
are unserious; they are the stuff of children’s books–lite, silly and
non-rigorous. Wysocki opens with these old feints, and offers "responsive
counterexamples" elaborated through analyses of
Scrutiny in the
Great Round
and
Throwing Apples
at the Sun
, two visualmedia pieces.  Before introducing the
counterexamples, Wysocki thickens the air with surveys of the critical tensions
invested in the opening positions.  To set up the idea of hypertext reader
as civic agent, she cites Lanham, Bolter, Edward Barrett (cognitive science),
Woodland, Nielsen, then extends to Mill, Habermas and Virilio to explain the
correlation between hypertext as choice and the dependence of public sphere on
divergent opinions.  Importantly, Wysocki includes a section in the essay
(40-41) to acknowledge the "quickness of [her] preceding arguments" before
imparting a second survey of positions suggesting that the visual is elementary,
again from Habermas and Virilio.  Included here are a series of scholars who
have called for renewed attention to the complexity and dimension of images
(42-43).  Before shifting into the analysis of the visualmedia pieces,
Wysocki explains,

The assumption behind the critique of the visual is that we take
in what we see, automatically and immediately, in the exact same way as everyone
else, so that the visual requires no interpretation and in fact functions as
though we have no power before it[…]; the assumption behind the celebrations
of hypertext is that any text that presents us with choice of movement through
it necessarily requires interpretation (43).

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