March 2010

Multimodal Semiosis, Multimodal Semiotics: Digital Technologies and Techniques for Studying Multimodal Communication

Scholars interested in human communication have long recognized that it is necessary to extend the purview of the field of semiotics to include all types of sign-making activity. Barthes (1957/1972: 112), advocating the development of “a semiological science” as earlier suggested by Saussure (1916/1975), drew attention to the diversity and ubiquity of signs: “In a single day, how many really non-signifying fields do we cross? Very few, sometimes none…on the beach, what material for semiology! Flags, slogans, signals, signboards, clothes, suntan even, which are so many messages to me”. It is no surprise then that scholars within the semiotics tradition have attended to the development and proliferation of interactive digital media and software technologies throughout the last century, and the expansion therein of the human capacity for meaningful sign-making activity. This has led to study of multimodality which concerns the often complex interactions of multiple signs, within different semiotic resources such as (spoken and written) language, (static and moving) image, gesture, proxemics, cinematography, sounds, music and displayed art (see Jewitt, 2009; Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006; O’Toole, 1994). […]

Semiotics on the Move

From Interaction to Symbol: A Systems View of the Evolution of Signs and Communication. By Piotr Sadowski. John Benjamins Publishing Co, 2009 (300 p.). Rather than conceiving the dynamic of signs as an abstract philosophical notion […]

Semiotic Approaches to Religion

The following is a paper prepared that was prepared for the purpose of stimulating discussion at the initial meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Religion’s Working Group on the Semiotics of Religion in November, 2009. […]

Memorial: Peter Bøgh Andersen (1945-2010)

Danish semiotician Peter Bøgh Andersen, author of A theory of com puter semiotics. Semiotic approaches to construc tion and assess ment of computer sy stems (1990, Cambridge University Press, updated in 1997), passed away on January 10, 2010, at age 64. His death came much too early. Family, students, colleagues, and the scientific world lost a scholar and friend of rare qualities and great independence, clarity, and passion. […]

Song of the Yeast: A Microbiological Instrument

Resonant Carboy is a generative sound installation that offers high concentrations of microbiological life a unique mode of performative expression. In this installation, yeast cells (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) are given voice as they fervently reproduce during the process of fermentation. Real-time chemical reactions become the generative process powering this unfolding temporal form. Up to 1.7 trillion yeast cells will trigger a self-organizing soundscape in real-time, as they feast on the monosaccharides available in a solution of honey and water. As the yeast cells digest the sugars, they yield large quantities of carbon dioxide. The release of this gas will drive a computer software environment – an instrument – that gives voice to the microscopic chorus of chemical transfiguration as a hybrid texture of amplified natural and synthetic sound. […]

Remembering Peter Bøgh Andersen: Is the Computer a Semiotic Machine? A Discussion Never Finished

We spent almost an entire day together. That is, Berit Holmqvist, Peter Bøgh Andersen, and I. It was in 1996, some months after my first meeting with Peter in Daghstuhl; and it was intended to afford a closer look into why semiotics would be of interest to people active in computer science or informatics. My argument (the computer is a semiotic machine) was not good enough—it did not have enough pragmatics attached to it. […]

Towards systems semiotics: Some remarks and (hopefully useful) definitions

Investigations into semiotic theory typically begin with the fundamental question: what is a sign? A definition is then offered, usually quoted from an established authority (such as C. S. Peirce), to get the argument started. But an a priori definition immediately begs a basic methodological question: how does the author of such a definition know that he or she is right? How did C. S. Peirce for example know that a sign is what his celebrated definition (Peirce 1998: 135) says it is. He may well have been right but he gives us no proof of that. His and similar ex cathedra definitions used in semiotics are often little more than intellectual opinions and intuitions presented to the reader to be accepted on faith, but they are not logical conclusions deriving from clearly stated premises. So how else can we arrive at a logically valid and possibly useful understanding of signs? […]

The Translator as Entrepreneur: An Indian Perspective

This paper deals with Translators as entrepreneurs who are slowly getting aware of their profession and have begun coming to a common platform to share knowledge, experience and resources – a most desired step necessary for the better future of the profession. […]

Semiotics in the Age of Transformation

At the very least, semiotics is a good idea. Trying to understand how humans make sense of their lives, their environment, and the ways in which they interact with, and influence each other through signs is a fundamental endeavour. Semiotics, under any other name, is bound to have emerged when early humans evolved the cognitive capacity to encompass more than a single point of view and represent others as a source of signs, and discriminated between intentional and non-intentional signs with considerable adaptive consequences. […]