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Inking a Past; Visualization as a Shedding of Uncertainty

Journal article
Authors Jonathan Westin
Published in Visual Anthropology Review
Volume 30
Issue 2
Pages 139-150
ISSN 1058-7187
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Conservation
Pages 139-150
Language en
Keywords antiquity, inscription, representation, uncertainty, visualization
Subject categories Communication Studies, History and Archaeology, Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, Cultural anthropology


This article explores how an idea about the past enters a visualization studio, and the processes by which it is transformed by the techniques of visual representation put in place to make possible the creation of inscriptions and sketches. It focuses on the formation of a fact around a series of inscriptions, as the idea is moved between a number of actants and in the process sheds all traces of uncertainty. The actions of the artists, as they interact with each other, the client and the archaeologists, are at center. As representations create ideas about the past and cement those ideas in society, one cannot separate popular visual representations from the world of science. The processes of their construction hidden from the recipient, they survive the theories that once brought them into being. As a method to describe the making of a visual representation, this article makes use of the actor–network theory concepts of enrollment, inscription, negotiation, and translation to follow an idea into image and make the layers of translation in which image production is wrapped somewhat less opaque.

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