Integrationist theory through the creation and analysis of a multimedia
work of art, Postcard
by Sally Pryor
Full PhD Thesis (PDF file; 4.2 MB)
thesis consists of the production of an interactive computer-based artwork,
an analysis of its research outcomes, and an exploration of the theoretical
issues that influenced the artistic practice.
artwork, Postcard From Tunis, is an Integrationist
exploration of writing and its transformation at the humancomputer
interface. It is set in a personal portrait of Tunis, a city with a rich
history of writing.
thesis starts with the theory of writing. The conventional view of real
writing as representation of speech is shown to have serious limitations,
which are addressed by Roy Harriss radical reconsideration of writing.
This approach is based on the Integrationist theory of human communication
as the contextualized integration of activities by means of signs.
User interaction with Postcard From Tunis, particularly rollover activity,
creates a variety of dynamic signs that cannot be theorised by a bipartite
theory of signs and that transcend a distinction between the verbal and
the non-verbal altogether. These signs include kinetic and dynamically
reflexive written signs that indicate in writing, but not in words, how
the user is to read them.
From Tunis offers users who are not Arabic-literate the perception that
there are actually no fixed boundaries between writing and pictures, as
both are based on spatial configurations, and it suggests that the question
of what is writing will differ from person to person (and moment to moment),
depending on the macrosocial, biomechanical and circumstantial aspects
of the activities integrated.
Postcard From Tunis both extends Integrationist theory into writing and
humancomputer interaction and also uniquely articulates this integration
of activities in a way that is impossible with written words on paper.
The research asserts the validity of the Integrationist theory of writing,
language and human communication and of uncoupling these from spoken words.
A framework is outlined for future Integrationist research into icons
and human-computer interaction.
Thanks to Eric Timewell for the excellent graphic design of the final thesis.