Saturday, August 13, 2011


Details and photos from our lovely Yellowstone trip to follow in another post. But in the meantime, some semi-deep thoughts.

Thanks to Semiotic theory, I can no longer take for granted the relationship between the meaning of things and how that meaning is being conveyed. In other words, I can't just assume the vehicle of language is only about getting me where I want to go. We all have to stop and look closely at the vehicle itself. Monster truck or Porche? It makes a difference.

Just a couple of examples because, yeah, none of us have the time for a real lecture today:

I told my students in class the other day that Magritte's Treason of Images was the first time an artist had inserted words right into his painting. The more I've thought about it, the more I was wrong (sorry guys). Maybe Magritte's piece has been treated as revolutionary because it's the first painting to really throw down the semiotic gauntlet* and make us question our assumption about the relationship between art, language and reality (and pipes, I guess). But he was not the first to use words to convey meaning along with imagery.

*I'm wondering what a semiotic gauntlet looks like. Twisted and symbolic and really hard to understand? Definitely French.

This kind of Annunciation scene comes to mind:

I love that it's not possible to say "Hail Mary" etc. without an elaborate banner to go with it. The Angel Gabriel drives a Mercedes.

And a counter example:

I saw this sign on a pole in my neighborhood last week. Now the intended message is, I can only assume, "call me and I'll get you out from under your mortgage quickly." But the real message is another story entirely. Seriously, would you trust your home, your money, your credit rating to some strange dude who scribbled his phone number on a piece of cardstock and tied it illegally to a stop sign? (And then, I think, he drove away in a beat-up Geo Metro with a missing tail light.)

1 comment:

Julie Q. said...
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