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___________________[PRO] Pro forma arrangements: the visual availability of textual artefacts

Pro forma arrangements: the visual availability of textual artefacts

Andrew P. Carlin

Department of Library and Information Studies
University College Dublin

Visual Studies Volume 18, Number 1 / April 2003 Pages: 6 - 20


In this paper I discuss "at-a-glance" properties of textual materials in a series of work environments, including hospitals, libraries and ticket offices.

I describe how members visually orient to mundane textual materials ("pro formas") as constituents of courses of action. From the analysis of texts-in-action, I suggest that the organization of administrative texts, including blood-test requests and missing-item reports, is amenable to formal descriptions ("apostolic function", "career"); and situated descriptions (sequencing of activities and use of membership categories).

Information is rendered visually available through (a) the spatial arrangements of textual artefacts in social settings; (b) the spatial arrangements or layout of specific documents. These "visibility arrangements" of textual materials are reflexively related to the recognition and retrieval of particular documents.

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