This essay focuses on pictorial documents created in pre-Columbian Mexico (the “Mixtec screenfolds”) in order to explore the interconnections of vision, blindness and the materiality of reading. One aspect of this exploration focuses on the pre-Conquest past: how were acts of vision represented in Mixtec texts, and how do these depictions relate to broader questions of reading, blindness and social inequality in indigenous society? A second exploration focuses on cross-cultural translation: what problems arise when Western scholars “read” Mixtec screenfolds using techniques learned from spine-bound alphabetic books? What are the different bodily practices involved in reading, and in what ways might the reading practices of one society be inappropriate for approaching the texts of another? These central discussions are framed by a theoretical orientation drawn from Mauss and Derrida, and a concluding comparison looking to recent scholarship on the Bayeux Tapestry — an object that raises issues of reading similar to those in Mixtec research. Devoting equal time to analysis of indigenous society as to the Western discourse through which indigenous documents are read, the following pages present new techniques for visually approaching the painted surfaces of the screenfolds — techniques of reading that reveal layers of information previously unseen by contemporary scholarship.
Aaron Marcus , Valentina Johanna Baumgartner
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Bringing theory to practice, these authors apply the cultural dimensions of Geert Hofstede to international corporate web design. Against Hofstede’s dimensions of power distance, individualism, gender bias, uncertainty avoidance and time orientation, five interface components are examined — metaphors, mental model, navigation, appearance and interaction. Through careful analysis and presentation of existing websites, cultural difference and similarity is revealed. Whether these differences can be explained by Hofstede’s findings is an open question. The approaches of cultural analysis and interface component analysis bring to attention the complex decisions required in the construction of meaningful websites designed to cross borders.
For issue 38.1
Sharon Helmer Poggenpohl
Editor & Publisher