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229 Coda Image-­ Text Interfaces, Material and Digital Although images and words have a long history of relationship and writers and artists have always experimented with them, the post–­ civil rights era in the United States gave rise to a period of particularly intense innovation in autobiographical expression in text and image. The coalescence of rebellion against historic modes of thought, heightened awareness of the politics of race and gender, and challenges to the artificiality of disciplinary silos resulted in a storm of innovative self-­ expression. In Picturing Identity, I have examined a broad spectrum of hybrid autobiographical forms in image and text. Produced by writers and artists alike, these self-­ representations and self-­ narrations play with visual-­ verbal interfaces—the coalescence, juxtaposition, or relation of image and text—in numerous and diverse ways. As we saw, Peter Najarian’s illustrated memoirs are closest to life writing supplemented with images—drawings, paintings, and photographs —clear examples of relational and temporal interfaces. Leslie Marmon Silko takes this a step further in Storyteller, in which personal and cultural narratives are in dialogue with family and landscape photographs . In Sacred Water, Silko’s reflections are juxtaposed with photographic images that are purposefully degraded in order to become a part of the field of vision, creating a complex set of relational, contextual, and temporal interfaces in which neither text nor image dominate but both coexist on equal terms. With his comics, Art Spiegelman fuses image and text, presenting an intimate relational interface, an “imagetext” (Mitchell 89n9) that seamlessly blends picture and word. Julie Chen’s artists’ books are based on books not only insofar as they rely on the conceptualization of the book (for example, notions of binding, page, typography ) but also as the concept of the book form engages with sculpture, architecture, design, and other art forms. The interfaces in her work are primarily spatial and temporal. Her artists’ books highlight a confluence of relations between image and text, page and canvas, architectural surfaces and three-­ dimensional visuals. Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s experimental autobiography extends this by challenging conventions of book design, transforming the page to a screen, referencing experimental film, and using a cinematic technique. With its primarily spatial interface , Dictée disrupts usual reading practices, forcing readers to attend to language fragments and gaps, to read across two pages—a spread— Coda 230 rather than conventionally, and to reenvision the page as a screen. Faith Ringgold translates the page into a quilt square and moves painting from canvas to fabric. She repurposes text as frame for her story quilts, combining temporal, spatial, and contextual interfaces. Carrie Mae Weems expands photo-­ narrative to retell personal and historical stories in the form of interactive installation art in photo-­ biographical architectures that mix temporal, spatial, and contextual interfaces. Last, conceptual artist Hachivi Edgar Heap of Birds uses words as images, words as text, and abstract images as personal narrative and political intervention. Each of these writers-­ artists illustrates that media is “always transmedia and not only in our current historical moment” (Chute and Jagoda 7). Each of them works across media, referencing and transforming each medium as they do. All bear witness to themselves in relation to history, society, and culture. Far from the American self-­ made autonomous subject , these artists envision themselves as part of the vast network of history and culture. Each emphasizes process as much as product so that what readers take away is not necessarily a book or art object, though it may be, but an experience—of being provoked, coerced, or seduced into looking through the eyes of another. During this same period, profoundly new possibilities for image-­ text self-­ expression arose as the internet was developed, digital tools were generated, and social media sites were launched. More than ever before, it is technically easier to combine image and text. From memes— concise image-­ text communications—to Facebook, with its more elaborated prospects for writing and image sharing, the tools of image-­ text self-­ expression are readily available. Although each has its distinctive possibilities, each social media mode has an autobiographical counterpart in the predigital world. A Twitter post, for example, is reminiscent of a short diary entry, in this case, a 140-­ character record of feeling, observation, opinion, or experience. Taken cumulatively, Twitter feeds might in theory generate a compendium of concise textual moments over time. Similarly, Snapchat is akin to a photo album, with the capacity for a short caption or hashtag but not an explanatory...


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