Archive for the ‘visualisation’ Category

wrestling with angels

May 8, 2010

Stuart Hall compared the theoretical work, the work of the academic or intellectual, with a struggle using the metaphor: “wrestling with the angels.” He added: “The only theory worth having is that which you have to fight off, not that which you speak with profound fluency.” Its a curious image Hall uses here. Tracing it back to Jakob’s biblical struggle with an unknown, who might have according to various interpretation been a man, an angel or God himself, shows that the meaning of the story is ambiguous. Jacob, after having wrestled with the angel all night, overcomes him, but then asks him for his blessing.

Furthermore, Satan himself was an fallen angel, who according to Milton in Paradise Lost used his abundant rhetorical abilities and persuasive powers for his own purposes, with long lasting consequences, as we all know. Was Jakob wrestling with a fallen angel, or an angel who would fall, after all? To muddle things up further William Blake later reversed the meaning of Heaven and Hell and stated that Milton “was a true Poet and of the Devil’s party without knowing it.”

So who is the theorist, according to Hall, wrestling with? Hall leaves the interpretation to the reader, “you can take as literally as you like,” he says. I think “wrestling with the angels” is a great metaphor, and I may use it to preface my PhD thesis, if I ever manage to finish it. My night of wrestling with the angels is not over yet.
Stuart Hall (1992)  Cultural Studies and its Theoretical Legacies (originally published in Cultural Studies, ed. Lawrence  Grossberg, Cary Nelson, Paula Treichler. New York and London: Routledge, 1992

word machine and poetry generator

May 1, 2010

Lovely illustrations by Tine Neubert from and lots of other educational resources such as picture stories.

digital storytelling

April 9, 2010

Parisian Love is a promotional video by Google. Made in the vein of Michael Wesch’s videos I cannot help liking it. It is is really well made.

the red book

September 23, 2009

Here the New York TImes have a fascinating report about Carl Jung’s private notebook with personal reflections as well as drawings, which has been kept from the public until now.  He worked on the Red Book for a period of 16 years, and ever since his death it has been locked away. Now, for the first time it is going to be published.

<click to enlarge>

Carl Jung said the Red Book stemmed from his “confrontation with the unconscious,” during which visions came in an “incessant stream.”

“I should advise you to put it all down as beautifully as you can — in some beautifully bound book,” Jung instructed. “It will seem as if you were making the visions banal — but then you need to do that — then you are freed from the power of them. . . . Then when these things are in some precious book you can go to the book & turn over the pages & for you it will be your church — your cathedral — the silent places of your spirit where you will find renewal. If anyone tells you that it is morbid or neurotic and you listen to them — then you will lose your soul — for in that book is your soul.”

Wow, this is intriguing. I might have mentioned before, that many years ago I researched the visonary writings of Jakob Boehme, a German mystic, who had visions, and who is thought of as the first German philosopher, e.g. by Hegel. > On my Christmas Wish List!

via Austin Kleon

structural violence

September 20, 2009

How do you visualize a concept, which implies a complex theoretical discourse and is also embodied in our experience, something such as structural violence?

Sometimes an image search will bring up a series of useful visualisations. Sometimes it is hard to find something that works, so you have to think laterally and  that search may bring up new ideas of how to think about a phenomenon.

Here is what I have come up with for structual violence related to an educational context:




I am not sure yet, if this is what I really meant to say, but it is what I found to be expressive and telling so far. For some reason the images all include writing. Now I wonder, is this a concidence? Or does it say something about how language and literacy is used in power relationsships? Note to self: Read Bourdieu’s Language and Symbolic Power and Foucault’s Diszipline and Punish.

academic writing

September 19, 2009


Graph by Dingo from

My son is in the process of applying for universities, the whole family involved in the game. I am happy that he sucessfully completed school, and that he is clever and mature for an eighteen year old.  But I cannot help worrying about his first steps into this strange world of academia. This pie chart from makes me laugh, as there is some truth in it. It could be turned into a tool for teaching students how to write essays:

You cannot brag if you don’t know something about your subject, which you can show off, so do it. Ass Kissing means that you have to know the important players in the field, who said relevant things. You should acknowledge, what you have learned from them. You don’t have to be sycophantic, though. Sometimes clever Name Dropping is enough, to show that you know what you are doing, and that should be included in the chart. And well, the slice of Relevant Content could be bigger.

Of course there is also the other side, the bitter truth about the essays you get from students. No comment on this chart, it speaks for itself:


Graph by: cheez_masta via Graph Jam Builder

To round it all off here is a Calvin & Hobbs cartoon:


garden and cosmos

September 12, 2009

Spirit and Matter From the Shiva Purana

The exhibition “Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur” was a real treat, although I came quite late and therefore did not have enough time to see it all. I bought the catalogue though. Many of the paintings are really stunning. I love the tryptichs like the one above “The Emergence of Spirit and Matter from the Shiva Purana.” The first panel – the world before creation is just a square of gold – pure abstraction, predating Western abstract art by several centuries. Another one showed the “Cosmic Oceans” – just abstract silver swirls. I like this one too: “The Equivalence of Self and Universe”.

subtle body

why do we need media to communicate?

June 10, 2009


I also like this simple explanation. I  would like to put that in my PhD thesis, instead of some complex definition! It seems to come from Scott McCloud, whose book “Unterstanding Comics” is on my shopping list.

via Austin Kleon, from his post on “our sad inablity to communicate mind to mind”.

is it art or communication?

June 10, 2009

kleon art & communication

Illustration: COMICS & INFORMATION DESIGN, BUT IS IT ART? by Austin Kleon and much more interesting stuff on his website.

It is apparently based  on this quote:

“What is art not? Well, as I’ve described it, Art is not about communication. Art is not a way of conveying information. It’s a way of understanding information. That is, creating a work of art is a means we have of making sense of the world, focusing to make it clearer, not a way of communicating some understanding of the world that we already hold. If you already hold a clear understanding of whatever then there’s no reason to create the work of art. So you don’t. In fact, you can’t. If you are trying to demonstrate some fact pictorially this is called illustration. Illustration is superficial, no matter how skilled, because it is secondary. The idea comes first and the illustration explicates it.”

James Kochalka, “The Horrible Truth About Comics,” in The Cute Manifesto

Acceptance speech word cloud

November 5, 2008

y e s w e c a n, originally uploaded by js wright.

“word cloud” of barack obama’s presidential election acceptance speech on 11/4/08 created with wordle

teaching practices

August 9, 2008

I made some visuals for an upcoming class/ presentation. It is ridiculous how much time I spend sometimes just for creating one slide. But I guess it is all worth it, at least for those students, who are like me and really like well made visual pesentations.

superheroes for literacy

August 6, 2008
Batman - Lukas Jones

Batman - Lukas Jones

I have uploaded here my draft essay on Superheroes for Literacy, which I am going to submit for publication.


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

psychedelic flow of information

June 26, 2008

The Falling Times is a visualisation of the flow of headlines and frequent key words from news, which are translated into pictograms. Mostly quite bleak, but strangely hynotizing.


While Falling Times leaves me slightly depressed the new Orange promotional site cheers me up: it is a never-ending website one can scroll down seemingly forever. I did not have the child’s patience or curiosity to go to the very bottom of it all. But I really quite like the pop art grunge graphics, the psychedelic rainbow river.

breaking the magic circle

April 9, 2008

Playing with Flickr - Breaking the Magic Circle

I have been getting more and more absorbed with Flickr. For the next few days I will be at a digital games seminar called Breaking the Magic Circle in Tampere, Finland and I will give a presentation about my research with Flickr called “Playing with Flickr”. This is, by the way also the title a larger research project, which might turn into my PhD. In any case my prof is very happy with the proposal I wrote up. While I am researching as ‘participant observer’ I am also a fan of Flickr – here is my hommage to Flickr and its ‘squared circle’ group – an arrangement of images tagged with ‘magic circle’.

Superheroes and Children’s Culture

March 21, 2008

dissertation snipshot

I am very pleased to say that my dissertation ‘Superheroes and Children’s Culture’ has been recognised by United Kongdom Literacy Association as an “outstanding piece of work” and the UKLA therefore decided to give the 2008 UKLA Student Research Award (Postgraduate) to me, which will be presented at the UKLA International conference dinner on Saturday July 12th in Liverpool. My husband Steve got very excited about this, and I had to remind him that this was not quite the Oscars, but nevertheless I would like to thank him for his encouragement, and David Buckingham, my supervisor for his support, and Guy Merchant and everybody else from the UKLA for awarding this price to my work, and most of all my son Lukas, for providing much of the inspiration and the fantastic data for this paper!

I made a tag cloud about the dissertation last year with the help of TagCrowd, which looks like this. Interesting, how the largest tags signifying the most frequent keyword in the paper correspond with the title of the paper.

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