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From:  Fernando Capovilla
Date:  Sun Oct 10, 1999  7:04 pm
Subject:  Writing vs drawing


Dear Valerie,
I think you are absolutely right. DanceWriting as well as music writing are true
writing systems. They are the way the
dominant (left) hemisphere represents what the non-dominant (right) hemisphere
Visual scenes, whether static (stage) or dynamic (dance) can be either drawn or
written. The idea of representing a visual
scene in writing has foundation in theoretical models of information
representation in cognitive psychology. To write down a
visual scene is to represent it in a schematic way by combining arbitrary
minimal units. A blueprint, for instance, is a
visual representation of a physical space, as well as of the physical
relationships among the components that are contained in
it. The architect always uses the same "notation" or "writing" arbitrary minimal
units to represent a vase, a table, a bed, a
closet, a sink, irrespective of the real shapes and styles of the objects
themselves. In other words, the minimal units of
visual representation of scenes are conventional, recombinative, and have an
arbitrary relationship with the real referents
they stand for (represent). In cognitive psychology such arbitrary minimal units
of visual recognition of scenes are called
pictogens, and they combine in almost the same way (with arbitrary rules of
morphology and syntax) as the arbitrary minimal
units of visual recognition of words (which have been called logogens by John
Thus I agree that DanceWriting is actually a system for writing body positions
and movements in space. Even though there is
clear visual correspondence between the visual properties of the dancing bodies
on the stage and those of the dancing
"symbols" on paper, it is clear that DanceWriting chooses to represent certain
properties of the dance in a certain way, and
not in another. Thus, there is a great deal of arbitrariness and convention to
it, which is important to characterize it as
writing. The fact that we can pinpoint both the arbitrary correspondences
between each trace type and its meaning, and the
arbitrary and conventional syntax and morphology rules for combining traces when
putting them on paper suggests that it is
indeed a notation system (writing) of an art form (dance) and not only an art
form of drawing.
(Normal, non-lesioned people, can write (left hemisphere) and experience (right
hemisphere) phenomena such as dance, music,
song, speech, sign, etc., and they can experience their own writing as an art
and could even write down their own private
experiences. The preference for a right hemisphere processing style (as in our
friend calligrapher) may help explain why some
people might prefer seeing SignWriting as a drawing rather than as a writing.
But we notice just how different the processes
are when we look at what happens to patients with left and right lesions.)
Thank you.

  Replies Author Date
1920 Re: Writing vs drawing Valerie Sutton Tue  10/12/1999

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