Explicit Multiform References

Multiform references (MFRs) are classified into three main types: explicit, implicit and indeterminate. Within a multiform argument (MFA), an explicit MFR announces its own juxtaposition of the verbal and visual components, usually through brackets in the main text, and at the beginning of the caption of the illustration. In the brackets, the term ”fig. n.” – “fig.” for “figure” and “n.” for “number,” that are usually written in Arabic or Roman numerals – comes to signify that these are “the right” time and place, along the consumption of the illustrated text, to direct attention to the illustration, that is displayed above its corresponding caption (Fig. 1). It is important to note that “fig. n.” is a hybrid sign, as it starts with a verbal anacronym and ends with a number; the “fig.” represents the kind of representation to which the author directs the readers (i.e., figure, plate or illustration), while the “n.” is the number of the cases in which that kind of representation has been used so far within the publication.

Fig. 1 Noa Yaari, Figure One, 2018

The presence of two identical-hybrid signs, one embedded in the main text and one at the beginning of the caption, establishes an explicit MFR that can generate shifts of attention in a bidirectional way: from words to images and vice versa. When readers encounter “fig. n.,” that is, an explicit MFR, they have the freedom to cooperate with the author and shift their attention from the main text to the caption and the illustration or ignore the conventional sign (Fig. 2). Explicit MFRs operate between different MFAs within a single publication and between various publications as they operate between words and images within an MFA; their direction of readers’ attention somewhere else is done consciously and clearly. Although explicit MFRs are quite conventional, my study of MFAs shows that they can come in different styles.

Fig. 2 Noa Yaari, Figure Two, 2018


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