David Theo Goldberg: interview transcript

Uncorrected transcript of interview with David Theo Goldberg by Andrew Jakubowicz, Sydney, Australia, June 2008.

David Theo Goldberg on BLUE VELVET from Andrew Jakubowicz on Vimeo.

DAVID    My name is David Theo Goldberg. I’m the director of the University of California Research Institute. Trained as a philosopher uh.. though with very broad interests in social theory, political theory, critical theory, uh.. the interpretive qualitative social sciences and the humanities and to some degree of course, also the arts. I have written quite extensively on political and social theory  <sound cut out>  in relation to histories of race and racism, theorising um.. notions and orders of exclusion ah.. and I have fairly broad interests across those domains.

ANDREW   One of your latest endeavours has been the publication of the object called “Blue Velvet”. Can you tell us a bit about how that came into being?


DAVID   Ah.. yeah, I’d written a piece on post-Katrina New Orleans and uh.. the shadows of race that continue to haunt it, for a print journal, the Du Bois Review published out of Harvard University ah.. and Tara McPherson the um.. one of the two founding editors of Vectors, this online journal and a colleague had asked me if I’d turn that journal article into a multi-media piece and I agreed thinking it would be simple. Ah.. and when we started a conversation both with the Vectors designer, Eric Loyer and Tara McPherson herself and a graduate research assistant of mine who has considerable expertise in visual materials, it became more complex. Uh.. and so we set out together to create a-a layered multi-media piece that was uh.. in the end quite different than the original piece that we envisaged and was completely written anew. I mean not just rewritten but really written anew and much more … the … even the writing the writing itself … I – I took the opportunity to make much more experimental and uh.. risky, sort of as a ________________

ANDREW   So can you describe simply what the original conception was when you hit the ground with this project?

DAVID   Well originally it was really just to translate a text-based piece in a fairly straightforward way, you know, by giving it visuality. Uh.. and it became apparent really in the first major conservation we had to _______________________ what that would look like, that the writing had been envisaged in a more creative and experimental form. Uh.. in order to do justice to the kinds of materials that we were envisaging, the sort of um.. architecture and visual look that-that we started to seek out and I became bored with actually just translating something I’d already written into uh.. into that form. Even when the form seemed to outstrip the written content. So I sat down and started to get a bit more poetic, uh.. as I said, more experimental in the form um.. less bounded by the textual conventions of the ______________.


ANDREW   So what part did the different players, the four players in the exercise play? In that process?

DAVID    Yeah, I mean that’s a great question. We started out … the original … I mean the original substance of conservation was every, almost every Vectors article _____________________ created anew, sort of uh.. ____________digital pieces as this quickly became, you know, rather than translating something from a text based medium into a ___________ digital, um.. is assigned a designer, a-a Vectors designer and I was fortunate enough to be paired up with Eric Loyer who’s a really extraordinary and-and uh.. one can use the term brilliant without uh.. you know, without being clichéd in this respect. A designer, um.. I call him Mr Flash. Um.. and uh.. who both conceptually and in terms of the … almost the theoretical application um.. has an enormously deep understanding of the various media involved. And so the conversation between initially Tara, Eric and I was quite abstract, I mean, what were we seeking, what were the registers we were trying to draw? Uh.. you know, uh.. even before we began getting concrete about the actual … the design architecture itself — and Vectors operates on a data base architecture that Eric has designed so we started the conversation about what that would mean and how that would shape _________________we think about the piece.


DAVID    And then very quickly I brought in my graduate research assistant uh.. Stefka Hristova uh.. into the conversation and we began a conversation weekly in conference form, for about an hour every week, just updating where we were, what kinds of plug-ins we were thinking about, what sorts of materials we were deploying. Uh.. Stefka began a kind or archival search of visual … particularly visual materials. I started thinking aloud about auditory materials that I wanted to draw on, I mean some of the classic New Orleans sound – Dr John “Going back to New Orleans”, I mean, you know, whether we could even in terms of copyright classifications even deploy uh.. elements like that. Uh.. and Stefka began uncovering amazing archival material from, you know, the 1906 ah.. flood and-and uh.. other kinds of visual materials. Uh.. and so we started the thinking about how to incorporate that and in the meantime Eric started throwing designs at us and he-he hit the… he hit the original conception that we ended up using quite quickly and then we started tweaking things. I mean there were certain things I didn’t like ah.. and-and he would play with that and then other things I really … which were fabulous and so on. And we had to play quite a bit with the, you know, falling concepts, as rain, right? The play between the landscape and the rising flood of water, uh.. the way in which you fall down into the-the underground of textural materials and so on and so forth. So it became a kind of give and take tweaking of elements, you know, which came out of these weekly conversations that we had. And each week Eric would throw us, you know , added features of the design materials that we’d respond to with conversation and say “we’ll go this way. No I want this. I want these elements ah.. Here are some additional visual materials.” A um.. you know, a _____________ of the data base, a putting in the materials into the data base and then going live with the data base produced new elements uh.. and so on. So there were these deployments of materials going back and forth, you know, and a layering of them over time. And reaching a kind of optimal layering point, you know, not too little, not too much, you know, so it wasn’t overbearing.


DAVID    And then adding um.. I had conversations with two very good friends of mine, close friends, about um.. an original sound scape um.. and the one person was George Lewis, the great trombonist and experimental jazz musician uh.. and he-he just could … yeah, he was writing music about New Orleans when I spoke with him but he just couldn’t complete in time and um.. the other person was uh.. Liu Sola, this notable um.. Chinese uh.. opera, avant-garde opera composer, jazz singer, blues singer and so on. And she gave me an original composition um.. called “The Apparition” which was just perfect. I had … I was writing bits of text about hauntedness and ghosts and cemeteries and so on in the history of New Orleans and the way it marks the landscape, the historical landscape of New Orleans, so it was just a perfect piece. And it became the kind of driving … it had a very, or it has a very deep, beauty kind of element to it um.. that-that’s quite haunting and was just a kind of perfect overlay theme music for the…


ANDREW    Because I guess when I was looking at it one of the things that struck me obviously was this-this ah.. beat, because it comes in very early on and one of the things… one of the questions that came to me was whether you’d thought about the nature of the audience that you were going to address and whether the music was in some sense signalling to the desired audience that this was a place that they could enter?

DAVID    Yeah, yeah. We certainly had extensive conversations about readership, you know, who the readership is, certainly of Vectors but also what sort of broader readership we wanted to try and draw into the um.. the-the formation of the piece. Ah.. and we wanted a mix of both academic intellect _____ driven audience in both the humanities, arts and social sciences – all three, on the one hand. Then also um.. a more lay audience that we wanted to draw into our ah… our-our consideration. And that seemed to work, I mean that … and-and finding … I mean I um.. you know, I made films as an undergraduate, I mean, some of which actually did quite well on the um.. international film circuit. We got a fairly major award for one film from the Melbourne Film Festival of all things in the early 1980s and-and one of the things we experimented with … ah.. Michael Ogowitz and I did a film called … the island on uh.. on Robben island in South Africa and its metaphor for the sort of self containment of apartheid in South Africa at the time and we experimented very early on with computer graphic imaging on the one hand – split screens, ____________ down the middle of the screen and so forth um.. and-and cutting on the beat – and so one of the things, you know, I sort of brought into ________ with this piece was the way in which music drives a piece, right, the-the rhythm of the music gives a kind of visual rhythm to the piece itself. And so we were very concerned, I was very concerned to sort of play on that -that, I mean it was a different kind of beat than others but this driving element of the … and the … and-and the kind of haunting high pitched sort of voice, that … < gasping vocal sounds> … that sort of breathed life but also took life out of New Orleans as the water waxed and waned.


ANDREW    The … did you consider as part of, for instance, going back and doing new live interviews with people as part of …

DAVID    Yeah, it … I mean part of it was, you know, of course elements of the budget ah.. timing, ah.. you know, they wanted this out originally it was in six months but it stretched out to-to a year and I mean, obviously it was ____________________ complex and it was put on hold because of somebody else’s piece and so on. Um.. so-so there were real time constraints and-and ah.. and by being able to set up that kind of thing. It would be great to do a more extensive piece ______________ on which you could kind of layer an ethnographic ordering of uh.. people’s stories and-and some of that work has been done by others, not in relation to online pieces in this way but it would be nice um.. to-to do a more complex piece that had those, you know, live voices factored into a more complex architecture, uh.. would be quite wonderful actually.


ANDREW    I want to come back though, sorry, to an earlier thing because my … I diverted myself from the question ___________________. One of the interesting things in this process of creating a work like this is what sorts of knowledges are created in the process. So rather than, in a sense in , if you like, in traditional research you sort of get … you understand what you’re going to say and then you try and say it. And obviously there’s some creativity in the writing process but in a sense the knowledge sort of exists and you’re trying to give it voice. Did you find in the context of this sort of multimedia work that new knowledges were actually created that were unexpected?


DAVID    Yeah, that’s a great question. Um.. I would certainly say yes, um.. you know again there’s a kind of complex layering of the knowledge creation that was going on. Uh.. I was writing a book um.. alongside of this on race and neo-liberalism and the centrepiece of the argument both in the original piece in the Du Bois Review — and it translated somewhat into-into this but let me emphasise somewhat, or underline somewhat — um.. on the shift from orderings of-of welfare caretaking component within the state and the welfare liberal social democracy, capitalism, to neo-liberalism forms of capitalism and the shifting of resources away from caretaking components, including emergency relief on the one hand and the giving over of those elements of emergency relief to uh.. charitable organizations and so, yeah, being directed in quite specific ways on the one hand. Um.. and uh.. and the use of force in order to order and re-order and remake a city, as I put it uh.. remaking the only democratic city left in the old south into a neo-liberal republican city and taking away its conviviality, turning it into a kind of um.. Disneyland, uh.. remake. And so-so uh.. that became the kind of driving theoretical framework for thinking about the piece. But to address your question head on um.. in the multimediated layer what became very interesting was the way in which you could register without even writing about it because you had all new visual components, sort of, flagging it. The relation between historicities, um.. earlier histories that then give you a deeper understanding of the formation of the city of New Orleans, quite quickly on the one hand and a-a relation to um.. notions of haunting, of apparitions, of ghostly appearances, um.. of elements of the uh.. culture in the making of the city, the taking … the undercutting of that, the taking away of it. But its refusal to go away on the other hand. So even if you get rid of the people the sort of, ghosts are there, right? And they keep hold of you in some sense. And I think um.. one of the elements in this new meaning making is precisely the greater um.. possibility of the invocation of the metaphorisitic, sort of , in meaning making and knowledge making, then you have something _____________ right? Of course you use metaphor in texts all the time but both in the use of other components and in the interplay between the various modalities of um.. of-of reference in meaning making metaphoricity looms much larger. And so a kind of poesis of meaning making is given more leeway than you have simply in text.


ANDREW    But it also, doesn’t it, it calls upon the audience in ways that linear texts don’t do um.. and I guess part of the question is how much does the intentionality of the author actually carry to the audience, where the audience is being called upon to work so hard at pulling together meaning?

DAVID    Right-right. Yeah, it gives, you know , it gives certainly both more openness to the imagination but it leans more heavily on peoples imaginations. To take away — I mean obviously there’s a structure which orders right, the range of possibilities ________________ um.. but there’s a way in which also text disappears, I mean the-the way in which text itself appears in the piece. It’s broken up to some extent. It’s broken up between paragraphs uh.. um.. elements of paragraphs kind of spill off, almost off the page right? Which both calls for a kind of continuity but disrupts continuity at the same time. And-and so there’s a greater play right, I mean … that’s what I mean by poesis or poetic uh.. poetics. A different form of rhetoricity in some sense. And yeah, it calls for a greater degree of investment on the part of the reader than it does in simply working out what the words mean.


ANDREW    Yeah, because that’s … I guess that’s one of the interesting challenges with this whole field of work that we don’t yet have audiences that are educated in the traditional sense to read multimedia. We’ve educated generations of students and scholars as to how to read the academic paper, and I know that one of things that you do with the site is have an authors “this is what it all means” …

DAVID    Right. And I was careful in my author’s statement not to fix me too quickly right? Because I thought that would undermine the possibility of — but that, you know, um.. I mean, I think the um.. point to be underlined here um.. is there’s also a break with the overriding conception of what textual production is. I mean, textual production is usually the _________theory of _________production right? I’m an author sitting in the silence of my study ________________________ and so on, thinking great thoughts and putting them down on paper, you know, and of course even within that model there’s collaborative work going on that, you know, gets referenced in some ___________ acknowledgments right? I thank my wife, I thank the librarian, I thank the … and so on and so forth. And this was a truly collaborative undertaking in a way which this kind of work really can only be. Um.. and meaning making merges or new modes of meanings, possibilities emerge out of those collaborations and I didn’t want to over determine the meaning that gets produced out of that. It’s precisely in the interplay of elements and media that contain those elements that the possibility of both fractured and-and renewed meanings can flourish.

ANDREW    Have you been surprised by anybody’s reading of what you’ve done? Have there been ______ people you’ve spoken to about it who have given you interpretations of what they got from it that are the, you know, outside your sense of intention?


DAVID    Um.. no, I – I honestly can’t say that, I mean, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the reaction of people I wouldn’t have thought would’ve been moved by the piece. Uh.. you know, some fairly hard nosed social scientists, who are, you know, open minded but never the less were laudatory of what we were trying to do. And-and uh.. got … we were also trying to get a feel of the city right? Even in its demise right? Or its-its histories of demise at certain moments of its um.. timing, contemporality. But I cant’ say I’ve come across anybody who’s totally under read or over read the piece in such a way that’s it like, that’s just wrong.


ANDREW    Okay. So that’s … just going … you made earlier mention of the issue of copyright on music and stuff. Did that become an issue at any point?

DAVID    Yeah, well it was an issue right from the get-go actually, I mean, can we use this, right? And my assistant worked out that there e was a way of being able to have short clips, you know, ah.. I forget, ten seconds, twenty seconds. You know, within the law there’s a quite definitive setting of how much you can use and the one thing, you know, we-we actually … there was a moment <laughs> in which we were using the opening clip from “Blue Velvet” the film …

ANDREW    Well, that’s why I want to ask …

DAVID   Right, with a fire engine and so what … I really wanted to use that clip and it turned out that we couldn’t. uh.. there was one piece, I mean, we had a short clip of that that we plugged in and we were advised by the Vectors council that we better not do that and having had, I mean, I um..

ANDREW   So the title actually … sorry keep going.

DAVID   I was just going to say on a different uh.. piece __________________ piece, ah.. the book I wrote, the collection of essays I put together on ah.. writing on racial subjects, race in America … the cover image is from “Rocky IV” with ah.. James Brown right? And so I had to – I had to contact both Universal Studios to clear that image and James Brown actually and uh.. I mean, the great story was that his agent, his manager uh.. ____________________________________ he um.. besides the um.. Universal fee we had to pay , what ___________ wanted was two copies of the book – one for James Brown’s library and one for himself.

<laughter>                           25:45

ANDREW   Excellent, excellent.

DAVID    So it was great but um.. yeah you have to go through all kinds of hoops and-and we just A – couldn’t afford it and B – uh…

ANDREW    So tell me then about the title.

DAVID   Uh.. yeah the title, the title was my choosing and um.. it uh.. it-it came to me as a consequence, I mean, there’s a kind of personal psychological … you know, some people have a visceral reaction to peach skin or to velvet, the touch of it and so on, and it struck me that the notion of “Blue Velvet” in relation to the film exactly, you know, the undercurrents of violence beneath, the undergrounds of violence beneath the sort of veneer of -of quaint middle class untouched lives and so on, that there was an element of that clearly in New Orleans, if you look at it, but also this notion of almost too sensitive to touch right? That -that um.. the … you know, when I started looking at the visuals, the history of the city, the historical production of visuality of the city of New Orleans, the placidity of-of the water that surrounds it for much of its existence and-and the undercurrent of threat of real violence in the way that Katrina had produced … you know, “Blue Velvet” was just a perfect metaphor.


ANDREW   And intensified by the fact that there is no reference to “Blue Velvet” .

DAVID   Yeah. Precisely, precisely. And then intensified also by um.. you know there’s been some great writing about New Orleans, both historically and contemporarily. You know, I mean I think of Andrei Oisteanu sort of writing about the city. You know, a Romanian uh.. who has lived in New Orleans for a long time and uh.. runs the uh.. poetry journal called “The Exquisite Corpse” which itself is a wonderful metaphor ____________________ right? And uh.. and so reading him, he also has a certain sense of the poetic. Uh.. it was quite inspiring to uh.. not capture but to get a feel of the surreality of the sense of the city itself. You know, of the experience, the experientiality of the city in various ways. So I was looking for those kinds of metaphors in the writing and in the relation between writing and the other modes of _________


ANDREW   But it would … I mean, it’s an interesting issue isn’t it because it … it would require, for an audience to capture the sense of what you meant, they would need to share some sense of the history of cinema that you brought to it.

DAVID   Yeah, exactly exactly. And so you … in these moments you draw on both the patience and the literacies right, in multimediality ah…

ANDREW   Well I think that’s-that’s really I think one of the really interesting questions here. For me this is a multi modality work. What are the literacies and where do people acquire them? How do people acquire them?

DAVID    And I think we’re in the … that’s exactly right. I think we’re also in, you know, we’re in that inter moment of um.. of having depended on a um.. uh.. a residue of a certain kind of literacy, overwhelmingly and in the production of a ____________ of new literacies, in relation to the new technological possibilities available. And just beginning to see what can be made of them, right, so uh.. so … and that also poses, it poses challenges of the possibility of new meaning making but also the possibility of-of fabulous experimentation.


ANDREW   Did you find that in working with your team that issues of generation made any difference to what they brought?

DAVID    Uh.. yeah, that’s a good question too, I mean the cliché of course is that younger generations have a facility that the likes of you and I might not have or can’t have …


DAVID   Uh.. they were – they were … you know and these were special people who themselves are open to experimentation. Um.. I mean the pleasure of working with both Eric and Stefka and Tara’s sort of largesse, were that we were able to feel our way into things and to push the buttons on things and so on. Um.. both Eric and Stefka, Tara of course as well, but because I was working so directly with uh.. and in an ongoing way with Eric and Stefka, that they were both so at ease with the media um.. and uh.. that then allowed one to uh.. not to worry too much about the technology. And what was fantastic about Eric was the work arounds, I mean, you-you’d hit what you thought was a concrete wall, you know, with no end, sort of stretching out on either side, and … it got particularly nerve-wracking at the end. There were elements – I sort of acknowledge this in my opening statement – the-the piece seemed not to be working technologically. There were elements … the piece … elements were breaking down. I couldn’t scroll through the entire piece from beginning to end without getting frozen on my machine and he drove down the highway, two hours, to come an do work out whether there where actual elements, you know, uh.. real technological issues at work just with my computer that was producing and then he figured out that there were some configuration problems and so on that had a slightly wider resonance, you know, but there were ways of working around this that uh.. that were both nerve-wracking but actually in the end a pleasure to see that there , you know, that if you’re open to it and with enough patience you can figure these things out.


ANDREW   One of the <coughs> conversations that’s often had about multi media is about the level of control that the audience has and the amount of meaning that they can make <coughs> out of a piece. My sense of “Blue Velvet” is that it’s very highly controlled by the authors. That the … that the architecture has a certain inevitability about it um.. which may be necessarily the case but the … and that you scatter clues a bit like breadcrumbs through the text so as you approach it you don’t actually understand what you’re going to experience and you start getting bits of feedback about that. How did all that come together?

DAVID   Yeah I mean, that too is a great question. I mean there’s an element of unravelling right? An unravelling of its history, an unravelling of the forms of experience, an unravelling of ah.. of the city itself right? I mean, I wanted all those elements at play and you know, in a way I think of my own mode of writing as unravelling. Ah.. hope it doesn’t unravel so it falls apart at the end but I mean, you know, the pleasure of writing for me is to work out what I want to say. I mean , I have some idea of where it’s going ah.. but I’m not – I’m not a person who’s worked out in totality, in totalisation where I want to end up and I don’t find pleasure in that. I find pleasure in exploring the play of ideas that-that produce ideas in me I never knew I had. Uh. Which can be risky of course because you might end up in places you find uncomfortable and then how you work your way out of it . so you have to trust your own commitments to some extent. ____________ And there was an element of this, I mean, um.. you know, so-so where the piece “Blue Velvet” ends up um.. was worked out as I was trying to work out the mode of writing and it was categorically driven. I mean, we chose categories. I mean we obviously thought rather carefully out of our conversation – these are the categories I want to mark my own understanding of the city and its history and-and the set of events. And uh.. in relation to the theoretical apparatus _________ interested in working with. And the rest was sort of working, working it out uh-uh.. over time and that then became a metaphor, that notion of unravelling became a-a way of thinking about the city, its falling apart and being pieced back together again, somewhat humpty dumpty sat on the wall.


ANDREW   Because one of the things you do is, with some of the concepts, key words I think you call them _________ is you map them and unpack them. Right and you suggest relationships or suggest what they might possibly allude to and there’s no sense about whether you actually um.. accept those allusions as being valid or not, they’re just allusions. How did you devise that whole segment around the words, the key words?

DAVID   Yeah well that, for me ever since I’ve gotten subconsciously involved in thinking about digital in relation to theory, uh.. humanistic practise, uh.. humanities and multimediality um.. the-the two vectors, the two important variables ah.. that it gives possibility to, to which it gives possibility are depth, because you can get into materials more deeply, more quickly than you can um.. uh.. manually so to speak. And more important relationality. You can draw relations, you can see relations between things and you can point to – if tangentially or if ah.. anachronistically to relations between things in ways that’s quite different and people might think you’re mad if you just ______________ all together. And so for me it was what are the limits of relationality________________________ always going into the piece, I mean that’s what I was interested in, abstractly in experimenting with. And so was, between the writing and the visuality   and auditory within the writing itself what are the illusions that I can put in play with each other and so on. And that just struck me, and I’ve said this for a long time almost since the beginning of this, that I think Vectors is an interesting platform, precisely because it allows — I wrote a piece in response to David Lloyd’s piece on Irish history um.. ah.. and I said it there that it’s a platform that allows you to play with relationality. Ah.. and I wanted to experiment and explore in my own voice that possibility.


ANDREW   Right, because you said when we were talking before that one of the constraints is the Flash programming constraint. What do you see, what are the implications of saying that’s got constraints? What are the elements that are constraining about it?

DAVID   Yeah, well uh.. you know, what __________________________ an incredibly beautiful visuality, you know, so it makes the visual property the prime driver of the experience, right? of the aesthetic. And so it um.. it-it upends the power of the textual because the textual is, if not secondary and if not instrumental, is in play with and maybe differential to the visual ____________ so that’s both an up and a down, because it privileges some things and disprivileges others. And privileges are new things that weren’t privileged before. Um.. so that’s important. You know there um.. the challenges to being able to explore through search engines and so on, the Flash technology right, and also to archive in certain sorts of ways that will put it in play with more traditionally searchable technologies _____________________

So-so those are some of the constraints. They’re beginning to be addressed uh.. technologically ah.. but one does trouble over how robust the solutions will be and what the next generation will produce that allows to draw on the-the strength of the visual components that Flash enables. Uh.. but allows you to, licences you to explore these other …


ANDREW    As you were talking I was just wondering whether you fantasised at all about doing this sort of thing as an installation that people could walk into?

DAVID    Yeah. I’d love to do that actually. Uh.. having done some installation stuff in the past and, you know, having looked at uh.. you know, certain kind of installation work that has both a video and a more static visual component to it. It would be fabulous actually to-to be able to work in that kind of multimediated way. So I would love to do it. Obviously you need to find the right people to work with. That you’re comfortable with working with and they’re comfortable working with you. We’ve been … just to go bak to history, you kow, the-the … I think here of the importance of somebody like Barbara Kruger’s work, in producing the possibility in thinking these certain kind of sloganeering ways that emerge din the late seventies, early eighties, that cam e out of conceptual art but then licensed new possibilities in relation to very beautiful, I mean, conceptual art is quite minimalist and restrained ____________ but putting that together with the extraordinary, you know, modes of visuality that came out of fashion and Barbara’s own work in relation to Vogue … her training in Vogue magazine and so on and so forth. Um.. that licensed these-these not just juxtaposition stuff but interplay of textaulities and I’d love to be able to explore that in sort of, newly fashioned ways.


ANDREW    Reflecting more generally on Vectors um.. which do you think, I mean if you’ve got them in your head, I’m not sure if you do, which do you think have been the most successful uses of that Vector environment?

DAVID    Yeah. That’s a great question too. You know Sharon Daniels’ work on prisons in California which are, I mean, visually stunning uh.. and award winning in that kind of way, and drawing on these really painful, extraordinary ethnographic interviews with women prisoners in the California prison system and having done work, underground work in the California prisons with people like Angela Davis and so on, through the institute for which I work. Uh.. incredibly moving and um.. useable in classroom contexts and so on. So that was a very beautiful and compelling and politically extraordinary project. So that would be I think one kind. There was a … I forget the woman’s name who produced it, also in the first issue of Vectors, there was a piece on um.. on medieval history. The-the political economy of a medieval city ah.. that was visually very pretty, drawing on maps uh.. and ah.. manuscript materials and so on. It was both visually beautiful but also gave you a sense of how the media could be used for rather traditional kinds of historiographical research right? so I thought that was quite important uh.. in a variety of ways. There’ve been some interesting if maybe slightly less successful work on uh-uh.. military … I think of my colleagues Jenny Kerry and Karen Caplan, on ah.. the relation between the kinds of technology put into play and its mode of production coming out of both experimentation technological development in the military so the interesting ways in which it can be used and so on. Uh.. what has been extraordinary about the Vectors uh.. engine, if you can call it that , has been the wide uses, the kind of open ended uses and very different looks that its given in various … I mean there’s a distinct limit to it in ;the end. I think if you start looking over the entire set of projects the interplay between content and form actually starts to get reproduced. So the question becomes, you know, can you open it up a bit so that the engine becomes engines and the forms of uh.. intertextuality in its most complex senses doesn’t become stereotyping and stereotyped. That’s another worry I have …


ANDREW   Yeah, because its sort of … as people look back on what other people have done they start to learn how it could be done and …

DAVID   Right-right. so it’s a visual language that gets produced __________________ a multimedia language and that can become stylised quite quickly and I think one needs to worry about that. I’m actually going to be this weekend at a-a um.. on Saturday at a ah.. a workshop at USC of which Vectors will be a part, it’s not just about Vectors, that are actually addressing these questions of collaborative work in multimedia and so on, so I think this might come up actually.


ANDREW   Are there other journals or publishing outlets that you would see as trying to, not do the same things but to enable a more wide ranging, interesting, engaged use of multimedia?


DAVID   Right. there-there’s certainly nothing as robust as Vectors, uh.. you know, that has rethought, that has enacted anew the possibilities for multimediality, certainly within the humanities. Uh.. you know, there might be some odd driven uh.. stuff that is more visually, sort of, effective in that sense. I think the imaginary to date has still been driven in a way that Vectors ahs not been driven, to its credit. Has still been driven by a very traditionalist notion of textuality, so that the-the written text is primary and uh.. you know, the visual materials and to some extent the auditory materials become um.. uh.. compliments of that and Vectors, to its credit, has somewhat undone that uh.. in an experimental and creative way. So I don’t’ think any … I don’t’ think there’s anybody as far along and there are emerging possibilities but, you know , it takes real resources and energy and institutional backing in order to be able to ____________

ANDREW   One of the things that struck me about Vectors was from the outset it recognised that there was a certain politics of publishing and that whatever these interactive things were, they would not be able to stand alone. They had to be wrapped in some sort of way. Was there a conscious or political conversation about that sort of issue?


DAVID   Yeah I … you know, I mean these things sort of emerge of course, partly in bits and pieces and I wasn’t there at the absolute beginning but I was there fairly early on. I was asked before the launch of the first issue to be on the board and so on, so I’m aware of … you know, I was at a fairly early conversation of an editorial board and so on and so forth, and um.. Vectors was fortunate to get some backing , I mean this was really Tara and Steve Andersons capacity at USC, to get the backing of USC fairly early at a moment when USC had a lot of money and were prepared to sort of spread it around to get a kind of national ____________________________________ so they really were at the right place   at the right time. That moment is over and USC has become a bit stingier and so on and there’s an attempt foundations like the …


ANDREW   I think we’re going to … I think we’ve reached the end of our story. I think the environment’s taken over. Well thank you very much ______________________________ excellent.

DAVID   It’s’ been a pleasure. Thank you.



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