Wednesday, September 24, 2014

You're Doing It Wrong - and It's Working!

Jockeys Before the Race by Edgar Degas
 Public domain image: Wikimedia Commons
I considered titling this entry, "A Pole through the Horse's Head."

Recently, WIRED Magazine ran an article about design that was autobiographical in nature, and theoretically provocative in implications. The article, "Why Getting It Wrong Is the Future of Design" began with a discussion of Degas' painting, Jockeys Before the Race - which you see to the right.

The most obvious element is pole, which is jarringly juxtaposed over the horse's face in a location that is neither centered, nor adhering to the rule-of-thirds.In Degas' day, social media was ablaze with cries of "You're Doing It Wrong!" (Keep in mind that social media, at that time, consisted of letters and reviews and conversations.) But after a while, it became as obvious as the pole in your face that this gesture opened up a new way of artistic seeing and showing.

The article's author, Scott Dadich, recounts a design decision he made regarding WIRED's cover - a decision that he knew to be "wrong" according to the established professional protocol, a decision he came to regret after the cover went to press, (read about the decision in the article, I'm not telling you everything,) but a decision that opened up a new way of seeing and executing design in the magazine. Of this event, Dadich says:
We have figured out the rules of creating sleek sophistication. We know, more or less, how to get it right. Now, we need a shift in perspective that allows us to move forward. We need a pole right through a horse's head.
Maybe those of us who work in new media, digital literacies and related fields could learn something from this example about how we can do more than simply theorize about randomization, aleatory methods, and non sens as necessary post-modern catalysts for invention. And, as I ponder these issues, I might offer two words for those composing in these new media:
  1. Caution: It's not a wise thing to break the rules until you know you can execute your work according to the rules. The old adage, "Rules were made to be broken," doesn't seem so attractive when you meet someone on the interstate who has fully embraced that motto.
  2. Throw Caution to the Wind: When you have mastered the rules, break them. Turn off the guidelines, Edit the "Master Slide," violate the template, spin the convention around, and experiment. New media doesn't yet know what they want to do/be/do, so give knock down some fences and give them some room to run.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Your Accent Gives You Away

After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” Then he began to curse... - Matthew 26:73
One thing this story makes clear: if you want to maintain anonymity and not be seen as an outsider from a dominant group, (an Other,) then you might wanna keep quiet in their company.

For those of us who study issues related to discourse communities and language groups, neglecting the impact of "accent" can leave a lot of meat on the research bone. You might appreciate this clip from the BBC's Channel 4. (It might be considered a companion piece to my blog entry on the ESPN commercial on Manchester slang.)

This could enhance discussions of language as an instrument of: power, segregation, ethnic identification, character assessment, etc. It may even tie-in to teaching about RP (received pronunciation), conformity and globalization, etc.

And, no, I am not a Southerner. Why do Y'all ask?
DOH! Dadgum it! *&^%#!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Beauty is in the (infected) Eye of the Beholder

from the Bleacher Report website
Just how important are the cosmetic factors in the rhetorical formula of television vanity? I'm not sure, but the recent and unfortunate challenges faced by Olympic Broadcaster Bob Costas surely makes us ponder such issues. While Costas and NBC attributed the removal of the red-eyed Costas to his limited vision, one wonders if there were other considerations, like the "ewww" factor of the discomfort of viewers. Bob's eyes even have their own Twitter account(s).

This could surely be an opportunity to discuss the rhetorical composition of television news:

Interesting and provocative questions, to be sure. But... for a moment of levity, cue up your karaoke track of "Bette Davis Eyes" and sing along to the new hit - "Bob Costas Eyes."

His hair is Clairol brown
His lips the games reprise
He’ll never let you down
He’s got Bob Costas eyes
He'll talk about the half-pipe
and about Hockey on ice
He’s pure as Sochi snow
He got Bob Costas eyes

And he'll tease you
just to seize you
coz he know the triple-lutz will please you
He’s precocious and he knows just
How cold it gets in Belarus
He got the Biathalon in his sights
He’s got Bob Costas eyes

He talks about the luge
He breaks down the freestyle
His eyes are getting huge
He’s got Bob Costas eyes
And they’re a little red now
about grapefruit size
as he recaps cross-country
He got Bob Costas eyes

All the boys think it's a sty -
He's got Bob Costas eyes.

When I see him, I just start to cry - 
He's got Bob Costas eyes.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Confession About The Vocabulary of Rhetoricians and Theoreticians

You may well note that our (rhetoricians and theoreticians) language is often obscure, opaque, deconstructive, and even violently iconoclastic against the status quo of the imperialistic structures of languages/grammars that serve to reify the hegemonic/genderist/specist/racist semantic constructs of power. That our words are non-sens, should bot be conflated with "nonsense," which still operates under the socially constructed paradigm it mocks, but should be seen as an alternate set of  mythopoetic rhizomes of ab/ob-tuseness of the gaze/void of the uncanny.

That is why our vocabulary is gibberish to outsiders. Or, maybe we use our specialized vocabulary for other reasons...