Is There a Rhetorician in the House?
I'm going to try not to say too much about the visit of the team from Grand Text Auto to UCI right now and the installation, symposium, and performance associated with their visit to the Beall Center, since I've assigned my students to write about their impressions for the class blog. These undergraduates might not have been as willing to explore these unfamiliar interactive narratives as Mark Marino was in trying out a 3D reconstruction of Facade, as shown above, but they were certainly enthusiastic spectators.
But there were enough references to "rhetoric" and "expression" during the day, that it seems wrong not to document the events of last Friday. So check back here next week for more of a write-up, after I've given others their say.
We're actually teaching Aristotle this month in the Humanities Core Course, so I'm particularly conscious of the ways that rhetoric can be seen as a set of rules or procedures for carrying out discourse, much as computers operate formally and procedurally. Most interesting in this regard were perhaps the two performances of Terminal Time by Michael Mateas in which the computer selects from thousands of historical facts and hundreds of video clips and images to create a documentary about the last thousand years that responds to the audience's input and their preferences, which might be shaped by ideologies about gender, race, class, or other influencing factors. As Matteas explains it, the computer must also be a rhetorician, since the program is stocked with tropes and phrases to create causal connections between chunks of assembled material that would otherwise appear logically disconnected. See below for photos of a performance of the hypertext narrative The Unknown with VP pal Scott Rettberg.