The Surrogate of The Seven Arts-wk 15

While reading Dr. Drouin’s “Surrogate” article, it was hard not to think about our midterm projects. Although his focus is on the physical impact of BLAST, and the “physical experience of reading…necessarily contributes to the interpretation of its content,” I was thinking about how our midterm project transformed for me during its different phases (280). I spent roughly 10-12 hours with my primary material The Seven Arts in its digital format before going into the archive for it. I did content analysis, close reading, background information, and image analysis. In short, I felt like I had a pretty solid understanding of what this magazine “was.” Despite this, I found that my language to describe its audience was more vague than I’d like. It was not until I visited the archive and interacted with the source material that I felt an immediate connection to the intent of the magazine. I could get all the quantitative information that I wanted or needed from online: content, dimensions, etc. However, I could not feel the pages or print. By physically interacting with The Seven Arts, I was able to understand the everydayness of its intended audience through the pulpy paper, the letterpress pages, and the individually curated covers. It would never have occurred to me to suppose that any circulated magazine would take the time to individually hand-draw their logo on each copy of their magazine. That is what they did, though. Each copy truly is unique and intentionally created—not just mass produced by machine.  The Seven Arts was created in order to call out the artistic from everyday individuals, and it emulated that with its materiality. Born digital (or only digitally findable) materials miss out on the opportunity to connect with the senses in the same way. 


I totally agree. Digital can not compete with the feelings and sensations you have as a human being compared to the printed books and magazines.There is no way to replicate the senses that you use when reading a physical copy, which will always be an advantage over the computer version. The main difficulty for researchers will be in the future when many of these magazines have deteriorated to a point that we can no longer look at them in this manner at the special collections library. How will scholars be able to make up for these lost sensations? Will they make physical copies or just stick with digital? I'm not sure how this can be salvaged...