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The Elements of Ruskin: A Deformance in Three Parts


Creators: Lorraine Janzen Kooistra and Reg Beatty


-from the colophon

Unable to attend this year’s DHSI in Victoria, we conceived a ‘short and sweet’ project at the Centre for Digital Humanities at Ryerson to coincide roughly with that of the Institute (June 2-6). We started with a selection of text from John Ruskin’s 1857 The Elements of Drawing in Three Letters to Beginners as well as images from his teaching collection at the Ashmolean. Then, with Jerome McGann’s notion of deformance firmly in mind, we proceeded to ‘combine’ the texts and images by means of an algorithmic manipulation, playing with code written by Generative Gestaltung and run through Processing, the open source prototyping software. This allowed us to draw with words or perhaps rather, write with pictures. The resulting book pairs some of these deformations with excerpts from The Elements of Drawing.

the book at