Digital reproductions of cultural objects are routinely used as information and/or evidence in a wide variety of studies. Yet, many of the procedures and mechanisms that constitute digital objects are hidden from view. This article documents an experiment designed to reveal what is ordinarily concealed when digital reproductions of textual artifacts are enacted. We describe remodeling an encoded copy of the July 1922 issue of the important Korean colonial-era periodical Kaebyŏk (Creation) hosted on a website administrated by the National Institute of Korean History (NIKH). This was done by generating an alternate visual scheme for the Unicode values used as part of the computational procedures that present the July 1922 issue of Kaebyŏk on the NIKH website. We also document our attempts to account for the patterns that emerged when we remodeled the issue.
This creative engagement with the materials and computational elements of digital texts revealed itself to be a fecund form of literary, textual, and historical critique. Indeed, our experiment generated a number of domain-specific hypotheses about genre, translation, and compositional practice in colonial Korea while raising important questions about studies of culture that bracket either the material or discursive systems of cultural objects from view. A narrow focus on the material-discursive details of a single issue of one periodical brought expansive, largely unexplored fields of investigation into view.