Archive for July, 2008

people take pictures of each other

July 26, 2008

I like this new advert for a Sony Ericson camera phone with the old Kinks song from 1968

People take pictures of the Summer,
Just in case someone thought they had missed it,
And to prove that it really existed.
Fathers take pictures of the mothers,
And the sisters take pictures of brothers,
Just to show that they love one another.

You can’t picture love that you took from me,
When we were young and the world was free.
Pictures of things as they used to be,
Don’t show me no more, please.

People take pictures of each other,
Just to prove that they really existed,
Just to prove that they really existed.
People take pictures of each other,
And the moment to last them for ever,
Of the time when they mattered to someone.

People take pictures of the Summer,
Just in case someone thought they had missed it,
Just to prove that it really existed.
People take pictures of each other,
And the moment to last them for ever,
Of the time when they mattered to someone.
Picture of me when I was just three,
Sucking my thumb by the old oak tree.
Oh how I love things as they used to be,
Don’t show me no more, please.

It is fun to compare this with this older advert by Kodak. The meaning of “instant” certainly is different – where earlier it related to the ease of taking pictures anytime, now it relates to the ease of taking and transmitting them anywhere, to share with others.

I have posted about this already here – a slightly different model, the Kodak Instamatic 33 camera was the first camera I owned, given to me when I was a girl, just about the time when the Kinks song was made. I was pleased to see it exhibited at the London Design Museum some years ago. 

sound and music and image

July 25, 2008

my album cover shot (it would have to be a very different album), originally uploaded by beavers abroad.

Come Fly With Me, originally uploaded by DreamValley.

The hills are definitely alive, originally uploaded by HorsesItch.

The words “the sound of music” in my mind are irreversibly linked to an image, the image of Julie Andrews spreading her arms, dancing and singing “the hills are alive …” from the film “The Sound of Music”. Most Non-Austrians usually associate certain things with, Austria – the mountains, and this film rank on top. However, “The Sound of Music” is or at least it used to be not that well known in Austria. I personally had never heard of it until I was in my twenties, went to the US and heard people talking about it. Now apparently every year some 300.000 tourists visit the film locations in Salzburg, so I guess that has changed. As far as musicals go, it is one of my favorites. “One of my favorite things” is one of my favorite things, and of course I like the title song, but not so much for the song but for the images and feelings associated. Maybe it is just because I am born near Salzburg among those mountains. But it is not only me who has the urge to stretch her arms and start singing, when I hit a mountain meadow. I know there are others, and I have proof of it. I have been checking on Flickr for the appearance of a “sound of music” or “the hills are alive” meme – pics like these are still quite rare but they are getting more! The real Maria van Trapp is still alive too, she is 93 and was actually born in the same town as me. I read this today in the newspaper and this random bit of trivia prompted my posting today!


July 24, 2008

“I met the girl in the paper dress on Manchester airport.” by Sigrid Jones

“Collage – the transformation and combination of image fragments to yield new images – has traditionally been regarded as a subversion of the photograph because it destroys the normal photograph’s strict, Aristotelian unities of place and time. A photograph shows what can be seen from a single fixed viewpoint, but a collage can combine multiple viewpoints or aspects of quite different scenes in a single image. Furthermore, a photograph shows things as they were at the precise moment of exposure, but a collage can combine things that took place at different moments into a single event. (…) It undermines our mental geography and chronology – our conceptions of where things are and when they happened. (…)
But physical collage of photographic fragments – by cutting and pasting, masking, airbrushing, rephotographing, multiple exposure, printing from multiple negatives, and the like – is usually technically difficult, time consuming and fairly easily detectable. So although it has had sucessful exponents, is has until now remained marginal to the practice of photography. The situation has changed dramatically with the emergence of the digital image: the tools for electronic collage of digital image fragments have become widely available, they are quick and easy to use and their application can be almost impossible to detect. (…) Just as execution of a brush stroke is a fundamental painting operation and exposure is a fundamental photographic operation, so selection, transformation, and assemblage of captured, synthesized, and drawn fragments to reconstitute the mise-en-image are fundamental operations on the digital image.”

from William J Mitchell (1992) The Reconfigured Eye. Visual Truth in the Post-Photographic Era. Cambrdge, MA. MIT Press

multimodal environment

July 24, 2008

I cannot help it, I love playing with little online gadgets like Adletters’ Restaurant Sign Generator I used some words from an essay by Elise Seip Tønnessen’s on “Learning how to read and write in a multimodal environment.” Here is the full quote:

“In his book Introducing social semiotics Theo van Leeuwen (2005) presents concepts for describing multimodal cohesion in terms of rhythm unfolding in time, composition unfolded in space, information linking and dialogue. The concept of information linking is particularly useful for dealing with the relations between words and images. Inspired by Roland Barthes classical distinction between anchorage and relay (Barthes, 1980), van Leeuwen applies concepts from M.A.K. Halliday’s text linguistics when he states that the relationship between images and words may take two basic forms: elaboration or extension. In the case of elaboration we find two kinds of specification: The image may make the words more specific by illustrating them, or the words may make the interpretation of the image more specific by anchoring it. Another form of elaboration is the explanation, where the words paraphrase the image or vice versa. The information linking characterized as an extension may also take three forms: If the content of words and image is similar, we have a similarity (and in reality no extension, but rather an increased emphasis on the same content). Furthermore the content of words and image may contrast or complement each other. In the latter case, we find what Roland Barthes characterized as “relay”.”

Elise Seip Tønnessen (2008) Learning how to read and write in a multimodal environment. Paper for the conference Designs for learning, Stockholm March 2008, Department of Nordic and Media Studies University of Agder Kristiansand, Norway

tree diagrams by david byrne

July 24, 2008

History of Mark-making, 2002

David Byrne from Talking Heads fame has an interesting website. He not only broadcasts a MP3 radio stream, there is also a lot of other stuff to find. E.E.E.I. (Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information) is a project where Byrne used nerdy old Microsoft Powerpoint to create art. There is also a page of drawings, in his own words: “drawing/diagrams (mostly) in the form of trees, which both elucidate and obsfucate the roots of contemporary phenomena and terminology. Sort of like borrowing the evolutionary tree format and applying it to other, often incompatible, things.” more here: Arboretum. Heck, the guy even designs bike racks. see the video here

David Byrne, Space-Time Reflexivity, 2002

Postscriptum: Note that superheroes, archetypes, mythical creatures and wild animals  all featured in the case study of children’s drawings my recent presentation held at the UKLA. I’d love to know hat was going on in David Byrne’s mind.

reading images

July 23, 2008

Unidentified Group of Three Young Women, originally uploaded by George Eastman HouseDate: ca. 1856

The Flickr Blog announced today that the apparently oldest photography museum in the world, has joined Flickr and is releasing some of their collection via the Flickr Commons. This is such a great idea, and I look forward to searching through some of those collections, a virtual gold mine for visual researchers. I love this image of three young women, one holding a book on her lap (strangely she is holding it the wrong way around, or is she presenting the ornate book cover to an imagined audience?)- it reminds me of the real Bronte sisters and the fictional Little Women. And then, of course Vermeer’s various paintings of women receiving, reading and writing letters back in the 17th century. What is this fascination with women and reading? It is hard to imagine young men being portrayed the same way as these three girls. 

show and tell

July 20, 2008


Continuing the theme of vintage technology here an image of the Show’n Tell Picturesound Machine, which was fed with records and film strips. more here

computer literacy

July 19, 2008

So there we have it, a little girl and Superman in competition. It is Shanna from the  TRS-80 Computer Whiz Kids promoting the computer for Radio Shack. Interestingly the featured computer, the TRS-80 very likely was the first computer I have used, in about 1982, in a brief episode of working as a translator in New York. I loved the text processing capabilities instantly. I wished I had known about the Superman connection and THE COMPUTERS THAT SAVED METROPOLIS!  back then. via the Speculist.


July 19, 2008

SPLONK, originally uploaded by el estratografico.


July 19, 2008

SPLASH! SPLASH! SPLASH!, originally uploaded by el estratografico.

Great set of comic book sound effects  collected in this Flickr set retronomatopeya

google maps extreme

July 17, 2008
IT everywhere #18, originally uploaded by Paul The Wine Guy

The IT everywhere series by Paul_The_WIne_Guy on Flickr has plenty more great mashups of graffiti, street art and digital icons. And here is another take on Google Maps, sent by Axinia, which made me laugh: Google Maps Extreme.

I could not embed it so you have to follow the link.


July 17, 2008

This neat little online application may in come handy for the visualizations for ideas. I have used tagcrowd instead of abstracts, and as an introduction to a presentation, and I will experiment with wordle next. Here is a visualization of the abstract of the research project, which I am about to start in October.

concrete pot

July 17, 2008

At the UKLA conference in Liverpool somebody asked me about my favourite Austrian poet. I have never been asked this question before; I think this is something only a British scholar would ask. My answer was Ernst Jandl, who of course is not really known outside the German speaking world, as poems, and especially his poems are virtually impossible to translate, although this book “Reft and Light” might provide a start. His work includes everything that has been called ‘experimental poetry’ exploring the limits of language though visual poetry, sound poetry, concrete poetry and more. Born in 1925, as a young man, even though he tried to avoid it, he was drafted to fight in the Second World war as soon as he left school, and eventually ended as a prisoner of war in Britain, from where he returned in 1946. He remained radically anti-war and anti-fascist all his life. After the war he completed his studies and worked as a teacher for German and English. He meticulously planned and choreographed his readings, which were very popular, sometimes including music. He loved Jazz, but also was an early fan of Rap and Hip Hop, as he liked to draw on the language of the ordinary, the people. Many of my favourite Jandl poems are deceptively simple, you could say minimalist, and often they are absurdly funny. Some poems, as this one, were written in English :

i love concrete 
i love pottery  
but i’m not 
a concrete pot.

In the seventies he started to write poems in what he called “heruntergekommenen Sprachen” – in a “deranged” or “degenerate language” – grammatically incorrect, or simplified language, as foreign workers and speakers of German might speak. I remembered his ‘deranged language’ when I was thinking about lolcat language, and I am hoping to find the time to write something about Jandl and Lolcats in the future. In a way his deliberate attempt to deconstruct, to dismantle language was a bit like lolspeak. I bet he would have enjoyed lolcats. Somewhere I read, that attempts to write lolspek in German have failed. They should just have a look at Jandl’s poetry – he’s invented it, before lolcats were born.

become your own superhero

July 15, 2008
become your own  superhero - keri smith

become your own superhero - keri smith


I have just returned from the UKLA conference in Liverpool, to receive the award for my research on superheroes and children’s culture. The conference was a great experience. And I am not saying that because I won the award, which of course, is fantastic, but because I have been really amazed by the friendly, lively, open and generous atmosphere at this conference, which came as a real surprise. I never ever thought I would experience anything like that in the world of academia. As I said in my “acceptance speech”, trying to articulate what all that means to me, actually, I have never won an award in my whole life, except once, many decades ago, when I was about six years old, in first grade, and the awarding body was an organization, which could may be described a sister organization to UKLA, supporting reading and literacy in Austria, although much smaller in scale. I won a big pile of early reading books, which was great, and I became passionate, if not obsessive reader. I had read all the books in the school library and in the local church library, by the time I finished primary school. So you have to be careful, who you give awards to, you never know what this will do to them!

The image above was taken from illustrator Keri Smith, who writes a wonderfully inspiring blog, including creative ideas, which may be picked up in a classroom such as this project: exercise #75 found photos

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