"But there is such a thing as unsuccessful metaphor, because there is such a thing as language that merely shuffles qualities and properties around without being capable of bringing objects into play."
-Graham Harman, Guerrilla Metaphysics: Phenomenology and the Carpentry of Things.
The methods of this course, the specific ways we enact/perform the course methodology, are cut-and-pasted from the "Florida School" of new media as described and introduced by Jeff Rice and Marcel O'Gorman in New Media/New Methods. The methods culled from their introduction are valuable and necessary for two reasons:
  1. The methods themselves attend to the rhetorical agency of objects (here, new media technologies). That is, new media do not simply allow us to do old things differently but enable (or even compel) us to do different things altogether.
  2. These methods interrupt our normal ways of composing, which is important in this class that also attempts to interrupt the normal way we see rhetoric. The unique way we approach objects analytically (as described in the course methodology) must be matched by equally unique ways of composing object analyses.
As was made clear in the description of methodology, we are not simply interested in what objects mean or represent; to this end, we must have ways of "writing" objects that likewise resist this tendency. Such is the hope of this collection of methods.

New Media Methods

"The ABC method attempts to forge such an alternative by reapplying the logic of categorization through fragmented observations, most of which are not meant to follow or complement one another in hierarchical fashion" (8).
"The results of clipography is not a sequential set of arguments leading to an inevitable logical conclusion, but 'a performance of discourses' that sheds light on a problem by means of complexification rather than simplification" (10).
"Learn not only to write about images, but also to write with images [...] Draw deep from the well of visual culture and, like the typical digital artist or graphic designer, don't be squeamish about re-purposing images for your own devices" (11-12).
"Stop thinking of media in terms of permanent and stable production [...] Find the content of your work in other work (online, in print, in film) as well as in various versions of any single composition (film, video, Web) you have produced" (14).
Emoji Tumbler #2.
Example of Bogost's "Visual Ontograph"
Emoji Tumbler #1.
Example of Bogost's "Visual Ontograph"
"Worry less about being understood when you compose digitally and be more concerned with provocation, with evoking a "What the ..." response in your readers so that they must devote attention and effort towards comprehending how you are working with identity, technology, and rhetoric at once" (17).
"Hypericonomists must specialize in the interconnectedness of information. In short, they must prove that it is possible—and valuable—to be both a cobbler and a poet" (104).
"Funkcomp [...] requires students to construct and adopt the alter ego as motive to defamiliarize the commonplace" (291).

Object-Oriented Methods

The collecting continues. These snippets are taken directly from rhetorical and/or philosophical treatments of objects (in areas such as Object-Oriented Rhetoric, Object-Oriented Ontology, Speculative Realism and New Materialism). Students should know that there is a vast, deep sea of theoretical work being done in these areas. This class is but a sampling, although no less sophisticated because so.
"What actually makes us laugh is the sudden prestige gained by entities that normally serve as transparent passages toward the things: ice becomes a cosmic power able to dominate human freedom; flailing arms become a new stock character in the world; the pratfall on the sidewalk brings the backside of the comic dupe into play as a portion of the universe to be reckoned with, where before (one would hope) it was barely noticed at all" (Graham Harman, Guerrilla Metaphysics, 163).
"[O]ne would neither wish to 'overmine' or 'undermine' [...] objects. By undermining, one seeks an atomistic explanation, such as binary code that explains larger objects. Overmining, similarly, 'happens whenever a philosophy tells us that an object is nothing more than how it appears to the observer; or an arbitrary bundling of immediately perceived qualities; or when it tells us that there are only "events," not underlying substances; or that objects are real only insofar as they perceive or affect other things' (Alex Reid, "Minimal Rhetoric").
"Rhetorical carpentry would construct objects (and conversations among objects) in order to demonstrate approximations of the strange, alien conversations happening around us" (Jim Brown, "The Decorum of Objects").
"In the face of such wackiness, one must proceed like the carnival barker rather than the scholar: though educated guesswork" (Ian Bogost, Alien Phenomenology, 31).
"From the perspective of metaphysics, ontography involves the revelation of object relationships without necessarily offering clarification or description of any kind [...] The simplest approach to such recording is the list, a group of items loosely joined not by logic or power or use but by the gentle knot of the comma" (Ian Bogost, Alien Phenomenology, 38).
"The act of wonder invites a detachment from ordinary logics, of which human logics are but one example. This is a necessary act in the method of alien phenomenology" (Ian Bogost, Alien Phenomenology, 124).

Engl 404 Methods