Created and programmed depictions: A useful distinguishing aspect?

Skip text between brackets (first two paragraphs) to avoid (unnecessary) thoughts leading up to the depiction-theoretical argument.

[Computers are fallible. They also rely necessarily on electricity. Is there then no wonder that we can have a preference for books because they are perceived as tangible/physical, as opposed to a Kindle e-book, which would be perceived as intangible? However it should also be said that the capitalist consumer model is better suited for e-items since buying and discarding wouldn’t take as large a toll on the world’s resources (hence the ongoing work of paper document free workplaces).

For me personally there is also a feeling of ownership involved. A book is mine, and I can keep it and pick it up when I want to. An e-book exists in something and only by virtue of both the device working and continuous access to electricity (over a longer time perspective). It doesn’t then feel like I own it because my access to it relies on things outside my perceived control.]

This is another distinguishing aspect between screen-presented alternative objects/environments and for example drawing a painting. I had written in my notes about the previous post “created vs. programmed” and couldn’t fit it in because it is another stratification of depictions and virtuals (virtual objects, environments and agents). Here goes. Both are created, essentially, but programmed necessarily requires programming and created does not… Ugh, awesome start.

Created depictions are objects that are a part of the environment but not the actual object themselves, they lend themselves for perception of information (about possible affordances about the object they depict or similar objects)*. This would include, for example, a painting of an apple. Created depictions rely necessarily on the existence of the environment, but not the opposite.

Programmed depictions are objects that are a part of the virtual environment but do not lend themselves to virtual affordances, they lend themselves for perception of information (about possible affordances about the object they depict or similar objects)*. This would include, for example, a jpeg image of a painting of an apple. Virtual depictions rely necessarily on the existence of the environment, and, a virtual environment, but not the opposite.

I believe that a depicted object is experienced differently depending on if it is created or programmed. This may have to do with a more so tangible feeling of a created depiction and the more so intangible feeling of a programmed depiction (but this is my personal experience and perception of created vs programmed depictions and so may hold very little value if put through a scientific method). I also get the feeling that this may have to do with “actual” and “perceived” reality, but that is another whole dimension and I need to think more thoroughly about it before feeling confident it holds any value.

*Note by the way, that the depiction merely needs to have a similar enough optical array for it to be considered depicting any specific object. Perception is also individual depending on experience, but this is covered already (although it may need further theorising).

Do depictions afford us anything?

First and foremost to be able to argue for the framework below, restructuring of the language use surrounding depictions may be needed. It is argued here that the overarching term should be alternative objects and alternative environments including the two (or four) subcategories depicted objects/environments and virtual objects/environments.

The main division bears on the ongoing discussion if depictions afford us anything (Wilson, 2013). This is an attempt to further this discussion.

Virtual objects (such as those used in screen-based research) are able to be interacted with –however, only in the virtual environment. Virtual objects, then, relies on a virtual environment. They do not afford the agent anything, unless the virtual objects are connected to the environment (for example controlling movement of an object in the environment by virtue of a Human Computer Interface). They do afford the virtual agent whatever the virtual environment and virtual objects are programmed to afford. Depicted objects then, do not afford an agent anything, but can provide (accurate or inaccurate) information about what the depicted object represents. They can inform us of possible affordances in the environment just like objects afforded to others, perceived by us, inform us that this affordance may be possible. The point of divergence then is that depicted objects do not afford us anything because we cannot become part of the depicted environment as depicted agents. Also, we cannot become agents in a depicted environment, we can only ever be agents in the environment. If we can become part of the depicted environment, it is not a depicted environment but a virtual environment -and we only become part of it as a virtual agent. Virtual objects do not afford agents anything if we strictly speak of the environment, however, as a virtual agent in the virtual environment the depictions afford the virtual agent, while it still only informs the agent because hie [ie:] is only ever in the environment. This is also to say that although an agent interacts with a virtual environment it necessarily has to be done through some form of apparatus/machinery, without it, the virtual environment would merely be a depiction.

An agent is thus not afforded anything, by neither depicted nor virtual objects/environments. Depicted objects can provide information that may or may not be useful in the environment, just like perceiving objects in the environment can provide such information. Virtual objects can afford virtual agents, just like objects can afford agents. They can also provide information, just like depicted objects. They can only afford agents by virtue of being connected back to the environment. This is however an oxymoron, because agents are still only in the environment, and only afforded something in the environment.