Design Semiotics and Post-Structuralism
Melahat Küçükarslan Emiroğlu (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fitnat Cimşit Koş (email@example.com)
The title of “Design Semiotics and Post-structuralism” proposes not seeing the design as a closed entity, installed with certain meanings, rather seeing design as irreducibly multiple, plural configurations of signifiers which can never be finally fixed to a single meaning; indestructible system of relationships. In doing so, meaning is ‘de-territorialized’ and ‘re-territorialized’ over time, thus liberated by articulations of relations and “re-articulated temporarily” (Leone, 2013). This idea argues design as an interfacing surface between a nomadic designer who is viewed as ‘dead’ and a user/reader/receiver (hereafter addressee) as being ‘becoming’ temporary.
Design calls into being as a medium of communication configured by design elements that are channelizing signifiers towards the rest of the world; therefore almost any kind of the product of design becomes as reality through which the addressee and designer communicate.Design benefits from every kind of representation, which are evidently semiotic by nature, in a manner of a system which is multi-layered and assembled with paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations ending with a creation that makes inventing new ways of expression a precondition of itself. Furthermore, each interpretation of a design is a new configuration of signified(s) articulated by a new system of relations arising from diversities of human beings, and meaning is liberated from its pre-established forms. Consequently, meaning liberates via articulation.
Deleuze strongly argues that things should not be defined according to the actualized forms. That is to say, we should not, for instance, explain designs on the basis of how the meaning is usually, generally or actually given to them. A post-structuralist look argues that to understand an object it is necessary to study both the object itself and the systems of knowledge that produce the object. This point of view does not propose to focus on understanding how concepts were understood by the designer at the time, rather it seeks to comprehend how those same concepts are understood by addressee of the design in the present, opting in studying how cultural concepts have changed over time. Synchronized with this, a diachronic look to realities tries to find out how the systems of relationships have changed over time. As Eco (1962) in The Open Work states that particularly contemporary art has an undefined meaning, in that the will of the artist was exactly that of producing such “indeterminacy or openness” gives a way for a diachronic point of view to understand the reality which design mediates for an ever-changing dialogue, a concept which is already challenging among so-called post-structuralists.
Abstract proposals for this topic are welcome from a wide spectrum of research fields such as semiotics in design education, applied semiotics, comparative studies of pre- and post-structuralist approaches in relation with design, etc. Prospective panellists are invited to contact Assist. Prof. Melahat Küçükarslan Emiroğlu and Assist. Prof. Dr. Fitnat Cimşit Koş via e-mail stating their personal information and professional affiliation. Proposals should include a brief description of the intended paper in English, specifying title, aim, methodology, and at least three keywords.
1) Ass. Prof. Dr. Bujar HOXHA The South-East European University, Department of Communication Sciences
On the Applicability of the Semiotics of Passions in Images
Recent research in semiotics has proved to foresee analyzable units on the basis of the context instead of the text. Besides the language-based and psychologically based semiotics,(Saussure, 2011) today semiotics has introduced the epistemological grounds on visual signs as well. My aim in this paper shall be to introduce the acting subject into such a context, which to my opinion can transform the states of visual expressions, as shown in their various shapes, from one to another. In such a context I shall try exemplifying the applicability of the subjectivized objects for the purpose of interpreting images (exemplifying thus concrete works of art ) which can produce passions as semantic results(Greimas & Fontanille, 1993). The questions which I am to advance shall be the following: how can such passionate taxonomies transformed into feelings, seen as a feed-back information, interact socially? And finally, due to the openness of the work of art, as Eco (1962) claims, where do the limits of visual artistic expressions’ interpretability lie?
Keywords: semiotics; passions; images; interpretation; meaning
2) Mattia Thibault
Toward a semiotic analysis of toys.
Nowadays academical interest towards games is endemic. Papers on “videogames”, “gamification”, “urban gaming”, “location based games” and similar are published by dozens; game studies are now considered a new discipline, discipline that, indeed, owes a lot to semiotics.
Many other aspects of the human playful behavior, however, are neglected or ignored, and among them, toys are potentially an extremely fruitful object of analysis. Toys are a cultural universal, we found toys in pyramids and in prehistoric tombs and they are present in every country in the world. Toys, in addition, are linked to puppets, to animated films and, of course, to videogames; the main characters of successful films as Toy Story, Small Soldiers, Lego the Movie and many other are toys. A semiotic point of view on such a various and widespread phenomenon is strongly desirable. Approaching a semiotic analysis of toys, anyway, requires to take into consideration the (few) works on the topic pertaining to other disciplines. Psychology is probably the field that had more interest in toys: Donald Winnicott and Erick Erickson both dedicated important essays to them. Also Eugen Fink and his “Oasis of Happiness” bring a valid contribution to the study of toys and, of course, several ludologic theories can be fruitfully applied to toys.
Caillois' four form of play, for example,allow us to draw a typology of toys: toys oriented to alea (dices, coins) to agon (plastic swords, balls), to ilinix (trampolines, pogo sticks, swings, rocking horses) and to mimicry (figures, teddy bears, construction sets, hats, disguises).
Bateson, on the other hand, underlines the importance of the material lightness of toys, that make them immediately recognizable even to animals.
Among the few semioticians who wrote about toys, Jurij Lotman is probably the one which contribution would be more useful. In his brief paper on “dolls in the system of culture” he focuses on the differences between statues and dolls, on the role of fantasy in the use of toys, on the ability to create a “second world” of dolls and on their modeling ability. This extremely fraught work is undoubtedly an ideal basis upon which a complete and general semiotic theory of toys can be built. The aim of this presentation, thus, would be to provide an overview on the state of the art of toy studies and to propose a possible integration between different theories, oriented to the creation of a semiotic toolbox dedicated to this fundamental and too often forgotten aspect of human culture.
Key words: toy, semiotics, typology, culture, dolls.
3) Liliana Soares, Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo, Portugal, The Research Centre for Architecture, Urbanism and Design (CIAUD) at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Lisbon (FA/ULisboa), firstname.lastname@example.org
Ermanno Aparo, Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo, Portugal, The Research Centre for Architecture, Urbanism and Design (CIAUD) at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Lisbon (FA/ULisboa)q email@example.com
Manuel Ribeiro, Affiliation: Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo, Portugal, firstname.lastname@example.org
The concept of scenarios supported by semiotic capability to design a bicycle between tradition and innovation
The analysis and evaluation of the concepts of scenario and meta-design as a reflection of the liquid modernity (Bauman, 2005) are the basis to structure a system of bicycle for the city of the 21st century, supported by semiotic capability.
The first section rush back the meaning of scenario to understand how to use it in design, namely the semantical dimension of scenario as a complex organism that implies addressing the experience of knowledge through cultural symbols and the power of the media. Designing scenarios means to present a whole fragmented into images, a continuous process that fails to take shape. Instead the designer takes on the project, it is the project that takes on the designer, along with the project tools - materials, technologies, semantics - within the designer’s interior (Heidegger, 1927) and all that is hidden behind appearance. The designer interprets the story of an artefact, using the language of the past (Gadamer, 1976) and becoming an interpreter of his reality. To recognize this approach, the text revisits Walter Benjamin’s thinking, based on the individual knowing how to tell a story instead of on the story itself. The concept of ‘story-teller’ (Benjamin, 1932) is the designer's ability to create a historical narrative, deforming it by semiotic competence and eventually transforming it into innovation.
The second section presents a case study of a system of bicycle, involving design master students; diverse companies and institutions from the same region and three researchers illustrate this notion.
Our thesis is to demonstrate that thinking the reality in different scenarios means employing a phenomenological method, being transformed along with the scenario; one way to interpret the relationship of the individual in the liquid modernity transformed into images. Design enables the city’ scenarios to be an image hypothesis, something ever renewable and embryonic. While image, a scenario consists of a system of layers ready to be experienced by the self while using a bicycle.
4) Sungdo KIM, Professor of semiotics in Seoul, Korea University
A genealogy of French design semiotics
The purpose of this paper is to construct an intellectual history of design discourses in French human sciences from mid 20th century to today in the long perspective. More specifically, I will attempt to provide a critical genealogy of French design ideas inspired by the structural semiotics and other anthropological thoughts in evoking some major figures very influential in the development of French design semiotics such as Andre Leroi-Gourhan, Levi-Strauss, Barthes, Baudrillard, Floch, to mention just a few. The ultimate question is as follows: what are the crucial contributions or fresh ideas of contemporary French thinkers on design, from critical point of view to practical analysis. There are two supplementary questions: how to write the history of design thoughts or design discourses in the vein of modern humanistic discourses ? In particular, what is the place of design in the French critical theories ? There are several ways to define the scope of French design theory or discourse: a) in a large sense, it seems reasonable to include anthropology and philosophy of technology represented by Gilbert Simondon, Bruno Latour, Stiegler: b) in a restrained sense it might be possible to choose critical thinkers who mentioned and investigated the issue of design from semiotic point of view in direct or indirect way. In this regard, one should evoke a very delicate question on the epistemological status of design: science or design. In the second section of this paper I will recognize six main currents in the domain of contemporary design semiotics including a prehistory of design semiotics and product semantics for constructing a synthetic model of 6 dimensions which might cover the domains of design semiotics.
Keywords: design semiotics, structural semiotics, design discourse, anthropology, philosophy of technology,
5) Helka Mäkinen
From the untangible to object in semiotic analysis. Adapting Barthes to clothing design studies
Fashion studies often concentrate on the wearer and their relation to fashion items or on fashion items as wearable objects, again accounting for the wearer. Fashion design or more broadly clothing design as a design process is very rarely the point of research and even less often if the perspective is the designers. Therefore there is a wealth of possibilities for research topics in clothing design studies but those are difficult to reach due to the un-conceptualised nature of design. In this paper I wish to present a way to simplify and adapt Roland Barthes' analysis on written clothing into a system to conceptualise intangible designed clothing. Designed clothing in this paper refers to a concept of a garment that exists only in idea form, while actual clothing refers to clothes that are in material form.
In 1967 Barthes published Système de la Mode, a structural analysis on the language of fashion as presented in fashion magazines. He takes descriptions of fashion photographs in the magazines, pares them down, categorises them and seeks the way fashion and meaning are generated in those descriptions. Barthes places his study as research on the written clothing, other options being the actual clothing and image clothing. Barthes sees manufacturing of the actual clothing as the starting point of a garment. Yet I propose that there is a structure preceding the actual clothing, the structure of design. Whereas Barthes sees actual clothing as the mother tongue from which image clothing and written clothing are translated into existence, it would be the designed clothing that allows the existence of actual clothing, making the designed clothing the mother tongue.
As mentioned, Barthes based his study on fashion magazines, of which the only function is to express what is fashionable clothing at given time. With clothing design as whole field there are multiple other reasons for designing: practicality and safety to name a few. This is one example, where the contextualizing process must differ from Barthes' model. Other major differing points are commutative classes, whether the descriptions have relation to world or only to fashion, and the levels of code or systems those classes contain. Sections of Barthes' analysis that are separate from the context of fashion magazines, mainly the signifying matrix, can be adapted straight into the process. The signifying matrix is the most pared down form of written clothing, consisting only of the units that have effect on the utterance. Dividing the designed clothing into concetrating signifying matrixes allows us to give form to the untangible.
There are yet some problems with the process. Aim of the conceptualising process is to be able to break down the designed clothing – an idea form – into text-like sections that can be used as material in further studies. One problem lies with defining the entirety of a design as any representation will be only partial and laying out the entire design would be impossible due to the fluctuating form of ideas.
Keywords: Barthes, clothing design, applied semiotics
6) Vicente Martinez Barrios, Associate Professor, Instituto de Artes, Departamento de Artes Visuais, Universidade de Brasília, Brazil; Pós-doctoral researcher at the SciencePo/Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/CNRS, Paris, France: Doctor in Semiótics and Comunications, Pontificia Universidade Católica de São Paulo/PUC, São Paulo, Brazil; Master in Fine Art, Pratt Institute, New York
SEMIOTICS APPROACH ON MATERIALITY AND MEANING IN ARTIST’S BOOKS
The Mexican artist Ulises Carrión contributed for the consolidation of artist’s books as an artistic genre in the 1970s. He explored new possibilities which enlarge and expand the codex and, as a result of his work, the book started to be approached not exclusively in a literary and linguistic perspective. His production expanded the material meaning attributed to books and incorporate its own materiality in the construction of meaning. Therefore, the meaning of the book reached a plastic dimension of estesic order.