Course Basics


Altshuler, Bruce. Salon to Biennial: Exhibitions That Made Art History, Volume 1: 1863-1959. London: Phaidon, 2007. “The development of modern art, shown through all of the most influential group exhibitions in history. The only book available that charts these groundbreaking events in such detail and scope. Includes a wealth of rare documentary material and ephemera, such as installation photographs, publications and reviews of the period.” Volume 2 has yet to be published.

Art Metropole Collection at the National Gallery of Canada. As noted here, this trove of more than 12,000 items includes a great deal of Fluxus and conceptual art from the 1960s forward, in such formats as “artists' books, multiples, video and audio works, mail art, posters, postcards and stamps. [...]  The strength of the collections begins, chronologically, with the 1960s, although earlier materials were acquired, such as key works by the Dadaists, Surrealists, Russian Constructivists, Futurists and Vorticists.” You can search the database here.

Aspen: The Magazine in a Box. New York, N.Y.: Aspen Communications Inc., 1965-1971. A fascinating and rare publication, each issue comprising a box of mini-publications in various formats including audio and video. See here for a thorough examination of the contents. There’s a fairly complete run in the library at the National Gallery.

Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. London: British Broadcasting Corp, 1972. “A BBC four-part television series (here) of 30-minute films created chiefly by writer John Berger and producer Mike Dibb. Berger's scripts were adapted into a book of the same name. The book was made by Berger and Dibb, along with Sven Blomberg, Chris Fox, and Richard Hollis. The book consists of seven numbered essays: four using words and images; and three essays using only images.” The Ways of Seeing book is a prime example of the experimental paperback examined in Schnapp & Michaels 2012 (below).

Blackbeard, Bill, and Martin T. Williams. The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics. Washington, D.C: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1977. A lavish and remarkably thorough sampling of the greatest American comics.

Bredehoft, Thomas A. "Comics Architecture, Multidimensionality, and Time: Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth." MFS Modern Fiction Studies. 52.4 (2007): 869-890. A consideration of the advantages of fixed, two-dimensional image/text narratives. Available via Project MUSE. Using the Google images search it is easy to find colour versions of the images discussed (here and here and here) as well as related images that will give you a fuller sense of Ware’s formidable bag of tricks.

Brunetti, Ivan. An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, & True Stories. New Haven: Yale University Press,, vol. 1 (2006) and vol. 2 (2008). An excellent and affordable survey of the vital and varied world of contemporary North American “art comics.” Although some graphic fiction is wordless, most is inherently bimodal by virtue of thoroughgoing text-image integration--or what Chris Ware (quoted in vol. 1 p. 7) calls “a convergence of seeing and reading.”

Burdick, Anne, Peter Lunenfeld, Johanna Drucker, Todd Presner, and Jeffrey Schnapp, Digital Humanities. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012. PDF. “Digital Humanities is a compact, game-changing report on the state of contemporary knowledge production. Answering the question, "What is digital humanities?," it provides an in-depth examination of an emerging field. This collaboratively authored and visually compelling volume explores methodologies and techniques unfamiliar to traditional modes of humanistic inquiry--including geospatial analysis, data mining, corpus linguistics, visualization, and simulation--to show their relevance for contemporary culture.” See also this review.
Burke, Peter. A Social History of Knowledge: From Gutenberg to Diderot. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2000. Chapter 5 (Classifying Knowledge: Curricula, Libraries, and Encyclopaedias., pp. 81-115) is an excellent introduction to the origins of modern systems of classification.

Cornell, Joseph, Marcel Duchamp, and Ecke Bonk. Joseph Cornell, Marcel Duchamp in Resonance. Houston: Menil Collection, 1998. This lavishly-illustrated and well-documented exhibition catalogue opens with a photographic tour of Cornell’s Duchamp Dossier--i.e. his storage box of items relating to his friend Duchamp. It also contains all the major works-in-boxes by Duchamp himself, and a good selection of Cornell’s famous boxes.

Eames, Charles, Ray Eames, and Kees Boeke. Powers of Ten: A Film Dealing with the Relative Size of Things in the Universe and the Effect of Adding Another Zero. 1978. A multimodal classic available in low-res form here on YouTube.

Fuller, R. Buckminster, Jerome Agel, and Quentin Fiore. I Seem to Be a Verb. New York: Bantam Books, 1970. This is the book rightly heralded by Schnapp and Michaels (below) as the masterpiece of the experimental paperback genre. Bucky was a brilliant and influential structural and social engineer whose writings, alas, were recently described to me as “chloroform in prose." But in this pleasingly punchy, multi-track introduction you can really understand what the fuss was about.

Garland, Ken, and Henry C. Beck. Mr Beck's Underground Map. Harrow Weald, Middlesex: Capital Transport, 1994. A lucid account of the genesis of a multimodal masterpiece, Harry Beck's diagram of the London Underground system. You can read Edward Tufte’s appreciation here.

Hayles, N. Katherine. “Print Is Flat, Code Is Deep: The Importance of Media-Specific Analysis”, Poetics Today vol. 25, No. 1 (Spring, 2004), pp. 67-90. An analysis of the peculiar properties of hypertext, rooted in an understanding of materiality as “the interplay between a text’s physical characteristics and its signifying strategies.”  Accessible via JSTOR.

Heller, Stephen et al, Olympic Pictograms through the Ages. This beautifully concise video published on the New York Times web site is a model of how design history should be done.

Herriman, George. Krazy Kat. An American comic strip published daily in newspapers between 1913 and 1944. Long unobtainable, and finally reprinted in full in a couple of dozen volumes by the defunct Eclipse Comics (here) and Fantagraphics (here). A sustained masterpiece of text/image integration and interrogation of the comics medium, Krazy Kat is hard to find in “serious” libraries. For a sampling go here, click on any image and open as “full-size image.”

Holschbach, Susanne. “Continuities and differences between photographic and post-photographic”, in the online publication Photo/Byte here. An investigation of the ontological differences between analog and digital photographs, with abundant illustrations plus footnotes showing important German scholarship in media archaeology.

Jubert, Roxane. Typography and Graphic Design: From Antiquity to the Present. Paris: Flammarion, 2006. A superbly written and illustrated survey of the graphic and typographic arts.

Kukkonen, Karin. “Comics as a Test Case for Transmedial Narratology,” SubStance, Vol. 40, No. 1, Issue 124: Graphic Narratives and Narrative Theory (2011), pp. 34-52 (JSTOR). A lucid exercise in multimodal narratology, showing how “different modes in multimodal media work together to provide the reader with clues to fill gaps and formulate hypotheses—and in so doing, project a storyworld.”

Kutiman Thru-you 03 - I’m New. The essence of good multimodal design is integration, and it doesn’t necessarily involve text or numbers. If you can dig this classic 2009 example of audio/video layering you’ll probably enjoy this seminar.

Latour, Bruno. “Visualization and cognition: drawing things together” in M. Lynch & S. Woolgar (eds.), Representation in Scientific Practice (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 1986), pp. 19–67. A seminal investigation of the broad implications of familiar technologies of inscription. See the description here.

Latour, Bruno. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. (PDF) A lively overview of Actor Network Theory by one of its key initiators.

Lima, Manuel. The Power of Networks. RSA Animate video, 2012.  This timely visualization is worth watching both for the content and the form. As with all presentations in this series, it combines a voiceover lecture with a baroque white board drawing unfolding in time. The subject is “the power of network visualisation” in systems thinking, and it’s a good crash-course in the difference between conceiving and visualizing the world hierarchically (using trees) and conceiving it as a far more complicated mesh of relations, as in the “actant-rhizome ontology” of Actor Network Theory (ANT).

McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. New York: HarperPerennial, 1994. “A comic book about comic books. McCloud, in an incredibly accessible style, explains the details of how comics work: how they're composed, read and understood. More than just a book about comics, this gets to the heart of how we deal with visual languages in general. ”

McCay, Winsor. Little Nemo: Little Nemo in Slumberland: Little Nemo in the Land of Wonderful Dreams: 1905-1914. Köln: Evergreen, 2007. A handy gathering of this still-radical masterpiece of text-image integration. You can sample some of this work here.

McLuhan, Marshall. The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962. A beautifully conceived and produced reflection on the rise of print culture, and the competition it faces in the electronic age. To an outrageous extent for a book by a university press, GG consists largely of collages of texts by other authors, and is punctuated by boldface callouts pioneered in the same author’s 1951 study The Mechanical Bride.

McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. The foundation stone of media studies.
McLuhan, Marshall (author), Quentin Fiore (designer) and Jerome Agel (coordinator-producer). The Medium Is the Massage. New York: Bantam Books, 1967. A classic of phototypographic design, examining and exemplifying colliding modes of modern media. This cheekily “you”-directed little piece of ad-inspired agitprop was released a year after it was conceived by publishing impresario Jerome Agel. It exemplifies McLuhan’s contention that the so-called content of any medium “is like the juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind.”

McLuhan, Marshall. Counterblast. Designed by Harley Parker. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1969. This multi-coloured typographic tour de force is an updated and greatly expanded version of a mimeograph that McLuhan knocked off with the help of his friend Ted Carpenter in 1954. The original--a tribute to Wyndham Lewis’ Blast--has recently been reprinted as Marshall McLuhan, Counterblast: 1954 Edition. Berkeley, Calif: Gingko Press, 2011.

Ong, Walter J. Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. London: Methuen, 1982. As noted here, this classic overview “explores some of the profound changes in our thought processes, personality and social structures which are the result, at various stages of our history, of the development of speech, writing and print. And he projects his analysis further into the age of mass electronic communications media.”

O'Toole, James M, and Richard J. Cox. “Recording, Keeping and Using Information” in Understanding Archives and Manuscripts (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2006), pp. 1-43. A clear and concise overview of the history of record-keeping, from an archivist’s perspective.

Paz, Octavio. Marcel Duchamp, Appearance Stripped Bare. New York: Viking Press, 1978. A beautiful meditation on works by the inventor of a multimodal masterpiece, the Boîte-en-valise.

Perec, Georges, and John Sturrock. Species of Spaces and Other Pieces. London, England: Penguin Books, 1997. As noted herePerec explores the spaces we inhabit, beginning with the most evident, the page itself on which he writes (and you read), and ‘zooming out’ into ever grander scales: the apartment, the street, the city, the country, and the universe itself.

Robinson, Julia. "Maciunas As Producer: Performative Design in the Art of the 1960s." Grey Room. 1.33 (2008): 56-83. A good introduction to the ‘impresario’ of the Fluxus movement. Available on JSTOR.

Rothuizen, Jan. De Zachte Atlas Van Nederland. Amsterdam: Nieuw Amsterdam, 2011. Alas this publication, and another on the same artist’s “soft maps” of Amsterdam, is so far impossible to find in North America, but I’m working on obtaining copies. In any case you can see a few sample pages here  showing his recordings of places by means of drawings overlain with texts detailing his perceptions. Rothuizen is now finding provocative ways to reverse-engineer and animate his low-tech designs. For instance here’s an augmented-reality installation in which words and images emerge on the bare walls of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and here‘s a trippy animation based on a visit to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.

Schnapp, Jeffrey T, and Adam Michaels. The Electric Information Age Book: Mcluhan/Agel/Fiore and the Experimental Paperback. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2012. This lively little work of media archaeology examines a short-lived genre (the paperback typo-photo-essay) that includes three classics cited in the present bibliography: McLuhan’s Medium is the Massage, Fuller’s I seem to be a Verb and Berger’s Ways of Seeing.

Staniszewski, Mary A. The Power of Display: A History of Exhibition Installations at the Museum of Modern Art. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1998. A profusely-illustrated survey of the display of art and artifacts at this most influential modern museum. “Staniszewski treats installations as creations that manifest values, ideologies, politics, and of course aesthetics. Incorporating analysis of display techniques used in department stores, natural history museums, non-Western art galleries, and the international avant-gardes' exhibitions of the first half of the century, she makes visible both the explicit and covert meanings found in exhibitions.”

Turnbull, David, and Helen Watson. Maps Are Territories: Science Is an Atlas: a Portfolio of Exhibits. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993. A pithy and well-illustrated example of enthnographically-informed cartographic analysis. See the review here.

Turner, Fred. From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. See especially pp. 1-102 for the origins of The Whole Earth Catalogue, a multimodal guide for bootstrap utopians that was an important precursor, in ethos and form, to the World Wide Web.

Tufte, Edward R. Beautiful Evidence. Cheshire, Conn: Graphics Press, 2006. For the present class I will assign the analysis of the greatest work of multimodal design ever made (pp. 122-139) and the lively screed on the dangers of PowerPoint thinking (pp. 156-185).

Tufte, Edward R. Envisioning Information. Cheshire, Conn.: Graphics Press, 1990. A self-exemplifying introduction to skillful multimodal communication, with sound principles based on a broad range of historical examples. As noted here, this book “shows maps, charts, scientific presentations, diagrams, computer interfaces, statistical graphics and tables, stereo photographs, guidebooks, courtroom exhibits, timetables, use of color, a pop-up, and many other wonderful displays of information. The book provides practical advice about how to explain complex material by visual means, with extraordinary examples to illustrate the fundamental principles of information displays. Topics include escaping flatland, color and information, micro/macro designs, layering and separation, small multiples, and narratives.”

Ware, Chris. Building Stories. New York: Pantheon Books, 2012. With this box of interconnected, somewhat Joycean narratives in fourteen variously-formatted livrets, the eerily talented Ware rethinks the already-very-lively genre of comics. There are precedents in some issues (e.g. #36) of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, a periodical with which Ware is closely allied. For a related example of his virtuosity see the Lost Buildings video (here), a multimodal story that was first released as a live-narrated pseudo- magic lantern show.

Wood, Denis, and Ira Glass. Everything Sings: Maps for a Narrative Atlas. Los Angeles, Calif: Siglio, 2010 (2nd ed. March 2013). “Surveying Boylan Heights, his small neighborhood in North Carolina, [Wood] subverts the traditional notions of mapmaking to discover new ways of seeing both this place in particular and the nature of place itself. Each map attunes the eye to the invisible, the overlooked, and the seemingly insignificant. From radio waves permeating the air to the location of Halloween pumpkins on porches, Wood searches for the revelatory details in what has never been mapped or may not even be mappable.

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