Wysocki, Anne Frances. “Impossibly Distinct: On Form/Content and Word/Image in Two Pieces of Computer-Based Interactive Multimedia.” Computers and Composition 18 (2001): 209-234.

In this article, Wysocki makes the argument that we need to rethink or expand the conceptual categories that we are currently using to better understand (and teach) the visual aspects of texts. Wysocki questions why we still hold onto so many common assumptions regarding (the teaching and understanding of ) visual elements. She argues that when dealing with the visual, form is not always separate from content, word is not always separate from image and information is not separate always from design, and when we do so, we seriously diminish our returns. She compares two interactive CD-Roms on modernist art to demonstrate this argument.

Wysocki claims that “the differences between the visual presentations of these CDs are differences of assertion and thought.” (224). She makes an argument for The Foundation Maeght CD because it encourages a kind of thinking about the role visual representation plays in meaning making, whereas the other CD (Barnes), took things at face-value/took much for granted in how meaning is constructed with visual elements. In other words, it simply gave the user the information in a kind of straightforward way and couldn’t escape from a prefab user experience. Wysocki describes in a close-reading of the two texts why the Maeght CD-Rom does a better job of “pulling her in.” Some of what Wysocki is doing is talking about aesthetic engagement.  She prefers the Maeght CD because: …”it is up to me to determine the relations between the parts; I have to think about why the CD has been arranged as it has; if I want to feel I have any sort of hold on the presentation, I have to make my own paths through it; they are not handed to me. Although the CD is not asking me to question my relationship to art—or to artists or to art foundations—it is encouraging me to question how the arrangement of the CD contributes to my understanding of it…a first step in encouraging me to be aware of my interpretative part in moving through such a piece” (230).

I find the following quotes useful:

“It is because the Maeght CD encourages me to consider how its structure contributes to my experience and understanding of the CD that I find it more appealing.” (231).

“We should be asking, along with other people in our classes, how the visual aspects of these texts work to compose us and how we go about composing pages and screens that encourage us to be responsible and critical readers.” (231).