BCA-I: Add some Colour
Last winter, somewhere before the Covid-19 crisis, we had a meeting with Professor Hildegard Schneider, member of the advisory team, to update her on the project. We showed and explained the BCA-I and even dared to share one of the first concepts of the BCA-N. After having explained the project, Hildegard takes one of the BCA-I’s, looks closely and says: “You should add some colour to the grid. Then, the map is more comprehensible at a glance.” Not really knowing how to respond I simply say: ‘Yes, that could be an option, maybe…’. But actually, I was quite amazed by this comment. What is happening here? Is Hildegard giving artistic advice, looking at an artwork? Or, is she seeing the outcome of this artistic research project not as an artwork but as a valid document that should be taken serious in the academic context where she is a part of? If the latter is the case, then the project may have taken its first hurdle. Yes, colour may have to be added, a lot of other adjustments will have to be made to make the BCA-I and the BCA-N completely relevant in this academic context, but in all cases it appears the outcome of this project is not just an image or artwork. And that is an achievement to be proud of, I thought, at second glance, when the amazement subsided.
- Deciding whether a text is successful or not depends, according to Wolfgang Iser, to the extent to which the text can activate the individual reader’s willingness to participate.1Wolfgang Iser, The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response, 107-112. A successful text is able to generate an interaction between the reader and the text. And that giving and receiving depends as much on the reader as on the text. David MacDougal elaborates on one of Georges Simenon’s books.2David MacDougall, The Corporeal Image: Film, Ethnography, and the Senses. 32–63. In one paragraph Simenon masters to describe a highly visual and concrete scene and mood of a certain place. And yet he is only using fifteen concrete nouns. And even if he was using a hundred, it would never be enough to exactly and completely describe a place important to the story. Simenon seems to perfectly play with the balance of giving and taking. He contextualizes enough but, at the same time, leaves enough to the imagination of the readersto take them on board and continue reading. There are plenty of examples, where the interplay does not take place, asking too much of the reader or too little, losing their attention quickly as a result.
The remark of Hildegard to add some colour is actually a remark in search of that balance. Because why should the interplay between giving and receiving only be between text and reader and not also between map and map reader? Then the distinction would not be any more between map and text, but between a successful or unsuccessful text or cartopological map.
Wolfgang Iser, The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response, 107-112.
David MacDougall, The Corporeal Image: Film, Ethnography, and the Senses. 32–63.