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UAL Research Online

HYPER-IMAGE NETWORK? An investigation into the role of text and image in the design of hypertext networks with specific consideration of the World Wide Web

Vogelsang, Axel (2008) HYPER-IMAGE NETWORK? An investigation into the role of text and image in the design of hypertext networks with specific consideration of the World Wide Web. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Vogelsang, Axel

The idea of the iconic turn relates to a perceived increase in the use of images and icons for communication purposes during the 19th and particularly the 20th century. More recently, various theorists have further argued that digital media and specifically hypertext media are a catalyst for this development. The multi-linear approach of hypertext, the increasing integration of pictures, moving image and animation in the Internet as well as the dominance of the graphic user interface (GUI) are seen as major indicators for a paradigm shift towards a dominancy of the image for the purpose of information exchange. The argument culminates in the idea that the envisioned change will come at the expense of alphabetic text and will amount to the end of the use of prose for communication purposes.

This thesis questions such notions concerning the iconic turn with respect to digital writing. It compares them to the status quo of design practice particularly in digital media networks such as the Web and reveals fundamental discrepancies between theory and this practice. It will be demonstrated that hypertext and specifically the Web to the contrary are still very much text-based environments, strongly built on both the diachronic[1] and synchronic qualities of language and the two-dimensional expression that is possible through alphabetic writing. This work also explains how proponents of a pictorial approach towards digital communication have been misled by early day phenomena and wishful thinking.

This thesis draws from cognitive science, cultural history, information theory and linguistics as well as from current design practice. Design practice plays an important role in the discussion regarding digital writing and the iconic turn as it is held partly responsible for the shift from alphabetic text to the image by some of the theorists arguing in favour of image writing. A new understanding of the role of the designer in the context of digital writing will be proposed because, as it will be demonstrated, notions of graphic design as a catalyst for the decline of the alphabet are based on a fundamentally flawed perception of the role of the designer in digital media.

[1]'Of, relating to. or studying the development of a phenomenon through time' ('diachronic', 1991, Collins English Dictionary, third edition)

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Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Central Saint Martins
Date: March 2008
Date Deposited: 05 May 2020 12:35
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2024 16:03
Item ID: 15619
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/15619

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