Saturday, May 9, 2009

Response: Intro to Semiotics

Our class readings:
this is not a pipe by tom streeter
semiotics for beginners by daniel chandler

Semiotics is such a buzz word that I have picked up its meaning through context, or in examinations of specific semiotics-based work, such as the work of Martha Rosler. It was interesting to have it spelled out. A cultural anthropology teacher I once had said that what differentiated humans from animals was symbolic thought. In that context, semiotics is the study of what allows for all culture.

Syntagmatic relations, or creating meaning by sequence or order of signs is where it starts to get interesting: the forming of time-based constellations of meaning are the basis of all narratives and prose.

Streeter focuses largely on media and advertising, which is a great place to start deconstructing codes and ideology, but that's kind of obvious, as in, most of us have been exposed to those deconstructions, of gender in the media for example. What I am more interested in is the "shared expectations and interpretive frameworks" those codes engender.

Similarly, I appreciated what Chandler had to say about use of medium and bricolage, or creating as a 'dialogue with the materials and means of execution.' Which is generally my artistic approach to projects, but which he used to address the idea of "the medium is the message."

My overall impression of this is the infinite capacity of knowledge. Of knowledge of knowledge. Meta is possible to the nth. Definitions of significance lead to definitions of signs lead to taxonomies of signs which are analyzed for conventions of organization, which can be separated into "semiospheres" of time and place. Better to stop now and get a beer.

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