Writing technology as a visual theme: An historical perspective

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

Abstract

To talk about Writing Technology instead of just Writing is tantamount to turning one's attention towards the material circumstances of Writing and Printing - the materiality of the textual Signifier. Defined very broadly, technology is everything that is an extension of the human body. In this sense, Writing Technology is the technology that makes it possible to make external representations of Thinking and Speech, these representations being Extensions outside of the body in which the thinking and speaking takes place. To talk about different kinds of writing technology is to talk about different degrees of separation between Body and Writing, and between Word and Image. According to Marshall McLuhan, this separation culminates in the Gutenberg technology of printing and the appearance of a totally new human type - the Typographical Man. Using, in a characteristically selective manner, the scientific findings and speculations of others, McLuhan states that the age of typography is an age in which Sight dominates over the other senses. However often regarded as one of the forerunners of postmodernism, McLuhan is a highly ambiguous writer. Texts like The Gutenberg Galaxy may as well count as typical examples of modernist art theory. From a McLuhanesque point of view, the idea of audio-visual unity in both Italian and Russian futurism may represent the final perversion and alienation of writing technology and textual culture - a stage in which not only letters but also sounds are regarded as visual, material objects in space. Like Walter J Ong, one may ask whether visual or concrete poetry could even exist without the dominance of sight.
Translated title of the contributionWriting technology as a visual theme: An historical perspective
Original languageSwedish
Title of host publicationPerspektiv på samtiden - Samtida perspektiv
PublisherStockholms universitet
Pages56-62
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)91-974100-1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book
EventPerspektiv på samtiden: Stockholm University, 16-18 March 2001 - Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 16 Mar 200118 Mar 2001

Publication series

NameEidos
PublisherStockholm University
ISSN (Print)1650-5298

Conference

ConferencePerspektiv på samtiden
Country/TerritorySweden
CityStockholm
Period16/03/0118/03/01

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