Pay Me, Ingold, or Silver Will Do. What Separates Writing From Will Draw to Drew?

In the first reading for today Ingold attempts to distinguish writing from drawing by showing how they are different, but ultimately that they are quite similar. One of the main points of contention that Ingold holds is that physical writing, i.e. not relying on a technology such as a computer or typewriter, is inherently more full of movement and more akin to drawing. Physically writing leaves the gesture and impact of the writer in the stroke on the page or other material. Ingold discusses why people may say that writing is a technology, such as the fact that it was invented, or uses tools, or even isn’t natural. While it is true that writing was invented it was a development in order to further facilitate communication, by taking the vocal sounds associated with language and creating a set of symbols in order to represent those sounds. This symbols were obviously drawn, and many were pictorial rather than an abstract form. Writing also does use tools, but only sometimes. Writing can be done with just a human hand and a surface such as sand or dry dirt. Just like drawing it does not require tools to communicate or provide a form for a viewer. Writing isn’t natural, but neither is drawing. Both are developments in the timeline of human communication, from grunts and fist waving to profanities and fist waving, along the way we as a species decided to create semi-permanent grunts and fist waving in order to help others understand our intent.

I would like to think that all drawing conveys meaning in the stroke of the line and the gesture of it, but that is unfortunately not true. For example, the recent popularization of icons for everything begs the question, “Are these art, or are they a technology”? Icons frequently lack and sign of stroke variation or gesture, and many of them are mono-colored static suggestions for commonly associated functions. In the same way that a stone carver removes the gesture of a scribe, so too the iconographer removes the gesture of the one who draws. How do icons fit inside both the realm of writing and drawing? Are they more rigid and unchanging or flexible and full of emotion? This is all extremely dependent on the intent of the designer and icons can fill roles in both art and the technology of writing. What is a period if not an icon that signifies the end of an idea or sentence?

In the other reading several uses of lines are listed. Lines represent many things, but they also represent obscurity and censorship. As seen above. What makes lines so versatile? And how can we use lines in novel ways in the digital age?


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