Escritura Diagramática de Johanna Drucker

Last Friday the 10th of September, I was invited to present the Spanish translation of Johanna Drucker book Diagrammatic Writing; translation by Ana Cecilia Medina. You can download the translation for free here ( Spanish, PDF).

It was an honor for me to present Johanna book, a dream I would say. Thanks a lot to Ana Medina for this invitation.

Also thanks to Centro de Cultura Digital in Mexico city for this initiative “Hibridaciones y Remediaciones. Jornadas de edición digital, an event that gather specialists, artist and academics, to share their experience and knowledge about digital editions. Thanks Monica Nepote, Ximena Atristain, Juan Tovar, Canek Zapata and all the staff behind, that made this event possible.

This initiative presented two books translations, Diagrammatic writing by Johanna Druker and Does writing have a future? by Vilem Fusser. You can download both for free in the CCD website.

Finally, but not the least, the CCD presented, as well, Julio Torri national award for short storytelling and digital literature. This is the first time, the grant add digital literature formats. The winner of the digital literature Julio Torri grand was for El grito que no puedo escuchar by Marco Antonio Arellano Arredondo. You can check all the fantastic mentions and the winner piece in this repository.


Before the presentation Ana proposed us to answer four questions previous to the conversation. I found interesting to develop a brief presentation for the first question. Maybe I was a bit enthusiastic from my part; but I found important as well to talk about the materiality of the text in the Old-non-digital media, as it was part of my master study “The city is a text ” (2013). Some of the examples of this answer are a coming from those times; some other have been adding later by researching in fields of book history, avant gard artist and electronic literature. Thanks to Scott Retberg for his book ” Electronic Literature” where he condensed a lot examples on the field of Electronic literature.

It was no possible for me to be more precise due time. My apologize and feel free to contact me if you have any argue, concern doubt and so for.

Also, some other questions [2,3,4] were answer in such spontaneous and organic way, like any conversation. Still, I find valuable resources and information to share that were not mentioned in the record.


  1. From its first publication until today, in what ways do you consider that the conventions / possibilities of the spatiality of the text on the screen have been multiplied or modified? Where do you find examples that can be read from the hand of what this book exposes?

I don’t  think there are new forms. I think the “text” is coming back to old textual forms, like  the Ouroborus, the text is eating itself. It is a social cultural process that has been happening, pushed by the same historical process that we have been living in for the last 80 years, at least. José Luis Brea in his book Cultura Ram describes in detail about this historical process, focusing on the cultural production of knowledge.

There are a lot of examples from diverse cultures, in diverse periods of times where the text displays and performs in different ways. Computation is a way to imitate, combine and optimize the great heritage and possibilities for what reading and writing means. Sure this is modifying our production and consumption of knowledge. By this, I mean that these innovative approaches for reading and writing, conceptually, are grounded in previous human experiences. The result of these innovative forms are having a tremendous impact in our cultural and social life. 

Our notion of writing/reading has been attached to the codex book forms as a way to store and render information. And it is based on some phonetic character systems in the western cultures. But, as History has shown us,  the text goes beyond any system or materiality, because it adapts.

For example, iconographic reading such as emoticons or memes can find a tradition in hieroglyphs or in rebus.


Egyptian hieroglyphs: Bee, leaf, sea and sun
Paul Rand “IBM”, 1981

Some other image reading systems, such as Tarot cards, is an image reading system with  some sort of spontaneous – random methodology for reading and writing, such as randomization processes in programming. [Image 2]  Or  in the Mustus liber , that was some sort of treat of alchemy with  non text at all . There is only one text that works as a guide  that said “Ora, Lege, Lege, Lege, Relege, Labora et Invenies”, (pray, read, read, read, reread, work and you will find). In the book, Jacobo Siruela in his book, Libro , secretos talk about the mysterious history behind this treat. He also provides a visual analysis and interpretation of this ancient book.

Think about the authorship of the Bible and the Coran as a Participatory writing or reading experience or strategy. All the development of Christianity thanks to the copyist and enlighters monks working in the scriptorium.  Katherine Hayley in her book Electronic literature :New Horizons for the Literary develops a fantastic introduction around the meeting between those monks and the machine.  

Scriptorium or atelier

Hypertext has a huge tradition in books, for instance all the para textual apparatus that happened since the scroll book. Imagine yourself reading Cortazar’s book Hopscotch in those scrolls. It would be a tedious interaction to change between scrolls and roll on and off to get the experiences that the codex book offers in a much easier way.  So the same materiality of the object is asking you how to read and write the text. The text adapts to the materiality of the content. It is a line to follow, a discourse, a thought, a pray, etc. 

[Image 5] When we think about procedural writing, generative systems, algorithms (rules),  to provoke writing and reading experiences. We should take a look in the vast tradition of avant gard artists such as Augusto de Campos, Ulises Carrión, Douglas Huebler, Clemente Padín,  Wlademir Dias-Pino and the poema/proceso; and much more poets and writers, that  conceptually, were doing some sort of analog version of all this experimentation. 

[Image 6] Constrained writing  such as the Oulipo group; combinatory writing like the surrealist: randomization techniques such as William Buroughts techniques and so on. 

 [Image 7] So, when we ask what is “new” about the text in our fancy shining display or in our fantastic and virtuoso “virtual reality“  headset  or any other electronic device around. Please do consider that this media is ubiquitous. You can find it in wearable, objects or in displays. And so, the main concern is What are the features of this new media? The most accurate term  that I have found for what is better known as New media (that is already old); or Digital media, that by the way  it doesn’t imply only digits at all. It is the term named by John Cayley,  The networked and programmable media.

Sensorama , primer intento de intentar una virtualidad 1957

So by understanding the natural ubiquity of electronic devices and its features as media. The only thing new in the text is your life. But you are still reading from left to right, top to bottom . You have a physical sense of gravity and balance;  you organize, gather , yuxtopse elements. Sure this is not an absolute rule.  But as life, the space is a relative dimension. 

Flusser bird, the metaphor mentioned during the round table about the translation of Vilém Flusser’s book “Tiene futuro la escritura?”[ Does writing have a future?]  Anahi Re and Eugenio Tiselli presented a feathered being that has a 180 vision looking to both sides. Tiselli argued that one eye is looking to the linearity of the text —or the past— and the other eye is looking at the hope of breaking the linearity of the text — the future— . I would like to add that the bird is looking to the past and future at one glance but flying belongs to the present, otherwise Imagine!  Then the main concern is How does this bird flies? Flying is a verb that is happening right now. It is about doing and flowing.  And so, this is how I would like to place Johana’s work, as practice, researching on doing.

Diagrammatic writing honors this writing knowledge tradition, first by experimenting or doing. Next, by using and combining diverse writing conventions from different periods of times. Relational visual features such as hierarchy, interlinearity, size,  juxtaposition or proximity dialog with the semantic of the text.  This creates a continuous flow of thoughts between the practice of and the theory of writing. 

Johanna Drucker “Diagramatics” Korean translation by Choi Sulki 2019

As somebody that has been drawing in a different ways, I  have always found the text similar to the act of drawing . You start by a point and follow the line. Your line has a will and purpose, even if you refuse to have one.

Guido de Boer “Image letter” 2019
Ache APC “Pichoglifo” Colombia

Please check more about literary arts practices in the Electronic Literature Organization collections


  1. From the quote “Translation is a powerful method of expanding and deepening our universe” by V. Flusser. What universes do you think are expanding with the translation of this book?

For editorial designers and book workers this book is a poem. 

It manifests beauty, it causes  and flows around the form and content. It performs what it means. It means what it says.  (An elephant’s faithful one-hundred percent!)

In the context of Mexico city, the independent art book fanzine scene, an ebullient scene that is full of projects so different such as la Duplicadora, Red de distribución Vicente Guerrero, Tlacuilos library,  Productora de Mapeos narrativos, Nicolas Pradilla, Pachiclon, Santiago Solis, Selva Hernández, Alejandro Magallanes, Marina Garone, Isabela Galindo,  Cristobal Henestrosa, Mauricio Rivera, Rodolfo Mata  and the big a long list of independent publishing houses, artist, designer, academics, poets, writers and vagabonds that love book practices. 
I am sure they will devour this book . 

As with any other book, It is difficult to predict what the translation of  any book  might cause in the curious and imaginative minds of any reader-creator. 

The question about the translation is what has changed in you Ana and Astrid Stoppen [ the designer ] ?  Because  translation  is a creative process. And this book implies a translation and a remediation, where  both, textual and design practice, need to find a solution.  For instance, in the korean translation of the book the translator commented that they have had to adapt some words  in order to fit to the complexity of the korean language  

I have not read Flusser, so far .  So  I  don’t feel  comfortable talking about it.


  1. What changed in your practice as a designer as you approached Drucker’s ouvre? How do you position this publication within the Spanish-speaking practices of literature and art in the media (if literature can be separated from the other arts)?

My practice as a designer is in general terms attached to my practice as a creator. By this I mean as a teacher, researcher , workshop leader, artist and as myself Vinicius. Johana oeuvre has an impact in all those practices by remembering my love for visual culture with her argument around her book Graphesis:  the study of visual production of knowledge. that was my first approach to her oeuvre-

The more I look into the history of  visual production of knowledge, conceptually, I have realized  there is nothing new under the blue sky. But as visual communicators we need to educate a critical perspective around what it presents or enact as an argument or visual statement for the sake of any hegemonic power; specially in the time where big corporations tend to concentrate more and flatten humanistic knowledge production.

As Johana said: Most information visualization are acts of interpretations masquerading as presentation. In other words, they are images that act as if they are just showing us what is, but in actuality, they are arguments made in graphical form.

From this perspective, as visual researcher and academic, Johana works mirror the call of the digital humanities agenda around the globe that it is demanding for nounce and relative  visual knowledge production. What a brave challenge in the time where universities  are taking the role of companies and humanistic knowledge is bypassed for business, technical and scientific knowledge.

Belgium according Belgium . A lion . I have never seen a lion in Europe still I love this imaginative map .

  1. The language of the book exposes in a very simple way (syntactically) complex and historical issues in relation to the book and writing, in this “Taoist” tension they believe that the future of theoretical / academic writing lies in integrating / flowing towards other forms of writing simpler in their apparent form?

Sure it will, it is already happening , for instance  the born-digital-essays   in The Digital Review (2020) where you can find  pieces  such as The Gate by Eugenio Tiselli.  Walking experiences  by the “Home of walking writers” ( Babak Fakhamzadeh, Geert Vermeire and Andrew Stuck.)  They have been organizing non-locative meetings  to walk, think and create or write; This a fantastic time to experiment pedagogics and writing. 

Also I remember Sophie, by Bob Stein, the Institute of the book and  the University of Southern California that in the late 2000s proposed a collective multimedia writing platform. 

Recently in Mexico city , artist  Pedro Reyes launched “Tlacuilos ” , which is a library that shares books and plastic ouvres via Instagram. You don’t even need to show your own ID.  The project uses the network as a platform for distribution of knowledge. 

The production of knowledge and our notion of culture is changing as well.  We are living an historical process,  the fourth industrial revolution and  the 6th extinction, This is  demanding  for resilience,  adaptation, imagination and innovative solution

The pandemic just pushed us forward  the  transmutation to a new era and also made more evident  how wrong we have been doing. 

As Rossi Bradotti suggested in the introduction of her book Posthuma knowledge Neoliberalism has  been placing  academics  and humanists in some sort of absurd competition  that is bypassing humanistic critical knowledge for some others interest 

It is time to take advantage of the network  and gather together as human  beings, besides our culture and language differences. Can we? Are we able to reach some sort of agreement?


Bibliography:

Brea, Jose Lúis (2007) Cultura Ram. Barcelona : Gedisa.

Borsuk, Amarantha (2018). The book. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press

Cayley, Jhon 1998. (2018)”Grammalepsy: Essays on Digital Language Art ” New York : Bloomsbury Academic

Hayles, Katherine .2008. “Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary ” Indiana, USA: University of Notre Dame Press

Siruela, Jacobo (2015) Libro, Secretos . Ed Atalanta, Girona, España.

Rettberg, Scott. (2019). Electronic Literature.Cambridge, UK : Polity.

Drucker, Johanna (2014) Graphesis: Visual Forms of Knowledge Production, USA:Harvard press

The Posthuman & New Materialism, Utrecht Summer School

Thanks to all the people that did possible The Posthuman & New Materialism course, at Utrecht University. It was an intense summer school with a lot of readings and discussions . And, still, I have more questions and concerns about what it means to be a human in this new era or about the great array of possibilities and political challenges that we face as port-human. Furthermore, I feel deeply inspired by the course and, specially , by the passion and sharp thinking of Rosi Bradotti, her brave aptitude and political position.

Most of the lectures and Q-A session were recorded, if you are interested in one of them, please let me know I will be happy to share with you the files under request. Just drop me a line with the subject “Hi post human knowledge para nosotros”

This a preview of the program

1.WHAT IS NEW MATERIALISM IN RELATION TO THE POSTHUMAN?
Rosi Braidotti | Artist lab: Petra Lilja

2.FEMINIST NEW MATERIALISM
Stacy Alaimo, Bruce Clarke,Fiona Hillary | Artist lab: Marta Cotrim Gerin de Moraes

3.NEW MATERIALISM AND PEDAGOGY
Kay Sidebottom, Anna Hickey-Moody | Artist lab: Shelley Simpson

4.THE CULTURES OF MATERIALISM
Ruth Clemens and Jennifer Crouch, Serenella Iovino’s | Artist lab:Gayatri Kodikal

5.MAKING MATTER MATTER
Emily Jones, Jennifer Gabrys, Helen Hester | Artist talk: Tina Stefanou

6.DECOLONIAL MATERIALISM, REFUGE and WRITING AS RESISTANCE

Natalie Harkin, Mai Al-Nakib, Behrouz Boochani & Omid Tofighian, Simone Bignall | Artist lab: Luna Mrozik-Gawler

7.ALGORITHMIC MATTERS

Goda Klumbyte, Matthew Fuller, Tiziana Terranova | Artist lab: Caroline Ward

8.NEW MATERIALISM and ETHICS

Rosi Braidotti, Troy Innocent, Patricia Piccinini | Artist talk: Maya Watanabe

Last day of the program, I did this random combinatory analog poem. The pre-human-radom-generator. It just a game, that condensed some of my impressions at the end of the course.

Mapas Oniricos in Blend & Bleed

STORIES BEHIND

In Ghent (2018), Mapas Oniricos [Oniric Maps, MO] introduced “Espectrito” within the workshop performance.  There were two ideas behind it, first I wanted to disappear in front of my colleagues at KASK. Back in those days, I was taking a storytelling postgraduate course as a student and docent. Besides that I was announced as workshop facilitator since the start of the course, a lot of my colleagues didn’t know about it. So I have the feeling that erasing myself from the role of being a ‘classmate’ would improve the workshop presentation, especially during the first minutes. Also, back in those days I was living  a personal-creative-turbulence period… when a childhood friend, Micho,  appeared in town from Mexico city. And he brought a present for me,  the mexican wrestler mask of  “Espectrito”.

Espectrito is not the most popular wrestler mask, others like El Santo, Atlantis, Mistico are more famous and easy to recognize. Yet it is one of the most mysterious masks in the history of Lucha libre; Espectrito’s story is linked to the origin of broadcasting lucha libre in the mexican tv back in the 50s . And because of the aesthetic of the mask and the ‘ritual’ that the original wrestler used to perform.  (He used to arrive inside a coffin to the fight field) The mask became a controversy for the mexican catholic society from the time. Since those days, Espectro‘s saga ─ which includes a lot of wrestlers with similar names and masks, such as Espectricto, Espectro de ultratumba, Mono verde among others─  is full of bad reputation and even a wishcraft.

Antonio (Toño) Hernández Arriaga was the first Espectro. His debut was in Monterrey, 1951 and besides his great success next years. During an encounter he suffered an unfortunate accident that ended with his career.

Today, I know more about the story behind this Mexican icon, but back in those days, I merely knew this mask was coming from my old first friend who loved evil and mysterious forces since his childhood.  And maybe that was enough to use it during this presentation in Belgium. 

Anyway, my friend gave me a tool to disappear/appear in front of my colleagues and a toy for self exploration. Also, one of the objectives of MO workshop deals with the remediation of written language in images, sounds and interactions; So in a way this gave me the chance to play and  incorporate a performance that encourages participants to experiment with language beyond a cases of words. 

The origin of the name Espectro was inspired by this comic book from the 50s in Mexico . Apparently the name was suggested by Roberto “el güero” Rangel

BLENDING REALITIES

This was the picture we used for invitation of the workshop .

For the purpose of this workshop edition in the Blend and Bleed symposium,  my goal was to remark that the mask is a tool for the workshop and not the other way around.  The mask is not a character; it is not a childish story, not even an icon; it is not about the performance. The mask is a tool, It has a function that aims to blend the pedagogical and performative experience of the workshop.  So I decided to continue this (self) exploration and take out an Espectro mask and vanish it into myself.  

These are some sketches and tests about my makeup and expressions. I was looking something simple that remark the expressions of my own face

Something I have discovered during the tests, is that each time I was playing a mask, my own voice and character was changing. it was like meeting a another VIni

MO looks to merge what is happening, the real moment with visual, sound and performance elements that sum to the statement of what is developed within the workshop. I would say a symbolic experience that goes beyond words.

It echoes Augusto de Boal’s idea of Invisible theatre of  blending reality in some spontaneous event.  Participants of the workshop don’t really know exactly what, how and when an event will happen. There is not such an exact script. It only exists a plan to develop during the workshop, notes.

Plan of the day

I feel enthusiastic about the potential of the online version of the workshop, surely this will continue evolving and changing. Some ideas that came to my mind are related to the UI and the modification of the workshop format it self. As MO is not attached to Twine or any particular technology, I wonder about how the content shapes the experience of the workshop.

In contrast with the physical experience of the workshop; the online version of MO, optimizes the time and facilitates unique features from the medium, such as more control on sound and images and programmatic or networked features that impact the total performance of the workshop.

My home studio for MO.

Nevertheless,  the personal physical interactions and casual events are nul. For the workshop development  those small  interactions and casual events are essential for the personal growth of each participant.  For example, personal conversations about dreams are lost . I don’t mean we don’t talk about our dreams in some way, the workshop has an organized way to talk about them . I am talking about casual chats and events that happened within the time that we are just around. Those events might happen more often as we provide time for “blank spaces” within the workshop. Maybe working with some asynchronous times during a a workshop that last more time , it would be ideal to provoke those conversations. Psychical interactions are unique; yet I wonder about the power of the physique.

There are more questions and concerns to be answered  such as  How to balance the performance and the pedagogical content? So far I have been using the mask a lot, but  What about using  some other visual,sound  and interactive elements?  How time and more sessions would affect the experience?


RESULT OF THE DAY

You can check the dream exploration we did that day here .

My apologize I did not keep a precise track about the dreams ownership for each twine stories, my mistake. The next twine stories, only mention the last author, an interpreter of others dream. You can find more information in the original document.

Thanks to everybody who join the workshop.

All my gratitude to my Carina Erdman for this fantastic initiative and for the invitation. Gracias

Mapas Oniricos in Viral for Salutches

Oniric Maps (Mapas Oníricos) is a workshop that explores dreams through digital narratives by using UX prototype techniques and tools to do it.  The project fosters the remediation of written language within the networked and programmable media, by remembering, deconstructing,  rearranging and symbolizing dreams experiences. 

For this edition, we evoke the spirit of the Mexican mini wrestler Espectrito from the underworld. During this brief workshop, Espectrito  showed us basic syntax of Twine, a fantastic tool to deploy interactive fiction. Also,  he proposed a technique to explore our oniric experiences


Espectro has been a popular wrestler mask since the early 50’s in Mexico.  Many wrestlers have been using this mask since then, such as Espectro de ultratumba, Espectrito or Espectro Jr, Mono verde and many others.  The story of this mask is attached to the birth and development of Lucha libre in the mexican media realm and to the evil misfortunes of their users.
For this workshop, the story starts when my best friend of my childhood (MIcho) appears in Ghent with a gift on his hands, a mask.  Since then, I have been exploring this mask every time I performs this workshop. First,  it was a manner to disconnect my own persona from the public. But as the time has passed, it has become a way to reconnect with my own symbols and friends.

Honestly I was nervous about condensing this workshop. It usually take me between 12 and 8 hours to give it . Viral brief workshops as a format means to deploy an interactive workshop under the condition of time, 50 minutes. At the end this workshop experience took me 15 minutes more to facilitate it.

Sure I can optimize some part of the workshop with out loosing this “social” feeling of co creating together , spontaneous events and gestures from everybody. For example, I lost time in advising participants to modify their name.

Also, a participant, Debora ( from Re:anima), suggested to send a 5 minutes video of Twine syntax before. So the participants can focus more on the practice during the workshop. Both cases my mistake and this suggestions should be part part of the communication plan within the first email

During the workshop, Steven Malliet, ask me for a depository to save the html files. I forgot it, but still I could react in time during the performance and I create one. That was so cool!

One of my fears was that the character of espectro became bigger than the content. Fortunately it didn’t happen. Something funny, besides that participants knew espectrito would arrive, based on their faces I think they didn’t expected the entrance. This was dissolved in the discourse, it was fantastic. 24 hr before I was not sure how to make this transition. But I got a tremendous good advice from Maylo Colmenares and Mayra Cebreros. Maylo started a street theater company in the 60s , named Los nakos full of counter culture ideas. This evolve in a music theater group since those days.

He told me Theather is to play. Stay in front of the camera and just play . Practice, but play with your self. Get fun ! He was right. I found the transition to change my character just by playing 12 hours before the opening. My main concern was how can I make a transition in a way that is smooth and natural. So I decided to refused my self and create a new story. I apologized at the begging of the workshop and said espectrito would not come because I lost the mask . And I focus in trying to place the people in the right place and mood, so I asked them to close their eyes and breath deeply to feel their heart beat. Then at certain point, I stood up and came back as espectrito .

I am so happy and glad with the results of the workshop . I guess this is the best Edition in a production perspective. We did a lot a brief time (15 min) maybe .

please take a look here

I am already thinking in the next workshop, and continuing exploring this mask. I like that espectrito but I am not interested to keep it pure as the popular icon that means in my home coutry . Instead I am interesting in my relation with the mask

Secret Sharing, A Pedagogical Tool For E-Lit Practices

“Ya lo dijo Freud no me acuerdo en que lado Solo la experiencia que he experimentado.”[Freud has said it before, I don’t remember exactly where,It is just about the experience that I have experienced.]“Estación del Metro Balderas”Rockdrigo Gónzales (1984)

I am so glad to share this article about workshops. Cuéntanos un secreto project has been a personal project that taught me a lot about the potencial of the workshop: as research methodology, a social tool for community building and aesthetic experience.These previous lines, took me years to digest, an still Workshop knowledge only can happen in practice.

for this paper, I was inspired by Lori Emerson´s presentation in Mexico city, Against ‘Lab’ as Free-Floating Signifier: From Appropriation to Counter-Cooptation and Codeswitching”. During her presentation she mentioned to Sandy Stone and the Act lab (Rise your hand and say: yeah! ) and she introduced to me the concept of “Code switching, an umbrellathta that translates experimental, Trans-ish lan-guage into blackboxed, institutional language.…and more ” Beyond to the transparent sensation that those words leave to us, a rotten critic of education, The term it self is an implicit verb, rather than a noun, an invitation to act before any crictic So the main cuestionis about How to code switch you workshop?

There is much more to say about this, but this was my first deliver on the subjet I hope soon to come back with more.

The article aims to provide a practical framework for the design and organization of workshops, based on the proceedings of the Cuéntanos un secreto (Tell us a secret) project. I focus on the activation of the sociocultural exchange of experiences; I provide two samples of pedagogical material used during the workshop taken from the works of Ulises Carrión’s (Love Story) and Augusto de Campos (Incomunicable); lastly, I inquire about the workshop as a creative and collaborative tool for community building looking towards the future of society

You can download and check other fanstatic papers here

Thanks to Fabrica de Artes y Oficio Oriente, Tania Basilio ; ELO for their support and inspiration; Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Bertrand Gervais & Sophie Marcotte for making this publication possibe.

Thanks a lot Kathi Imman Beren and Rika Colpeart for their words, back in 2018