Context & Theories Workshop

In this lecture, we were introduced to the theory of semiotics which I’ll be talking about in this post.

semiotics is a study of signs and symbols and how they are used and interpreted

Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure wrote that the sign is the whole that results from the association of the signifier with the signified. The signifier being the form an image takes place, and the signified as the concept it represents. The process between those two is called signification.

When someone mentions the word “tree” we think of an image of a tree. The same goes as if we were to look at a word that says tree written on a piece of paper. The word and the image will evoke the concept of a tree.

But the word “tree” is not actually a tree. The meaning of a tree can be constructed by any random letter combination, however, in English, the meaning of a tree is carried by the letters t-r-e-e. But for the foreign speaker, the meaning of a tree would be carried by different letters. Yet both random strings of letters represent the same object.

Yet both random strings of letters represent the same object. Furthermore, if we were to think of let’s say a car. Not everyone would imagine the same type of car. Thus meaning, a signifier has no absolute relation to the signify.

Charles sanders pierce’s ideas about semiotics distinguish between three types of signs. Icon, Index, and Symbol. Where the sign belongs in a particular category is dependent upon the nature of its relationship between the sign itself which you call the “referent” and the actual meaning.

An icon is a sign that stands for an object by resembling it. The index refers to their objects by an actual link between the sign and its object, the sign, and the object does not have to be visually the same but rather have something in common.

The symbol refers to their objects by virtue of law, rule of convention. Words, propositions, and text are obvious examples.

Century of the self

This video does a great job in educating and explaining the history of marketing and propaganda within society. The video starts off by mentioning the theory of human nature by Sigmund Freud, which is what the people of power have tried to apply in order to control the crowds. It goes as far as the European war in 1914.

According to Sigmund Freud’s Theory of human nature, many of our human behavior is controlled without our awareness, and that people have deep aggressive and sexual desires deeply hidden within them, feelings they’ve got from the past animal self-contained. These forces have led individuals and societies into chaos and destruction.

This didn’t always come as good news, as Viennese found Freud’s theory repulsive, embarrassing and a threat to one’s absolute control.

Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays who had been working as a press agent in America he had been employed to promote America’s democracy ideology and not to restore the old empires in the press during its involvement in the European war.

Upon arrival back in the US, Bernays had an idea to use propaganda as a marketing method instead as a tool of war. He set out to experiment with his uncle’s theory in mind.

He was the first individual to show American corporations for the first time, how they can make people want things they did not actually need by linking mass produced goods to their unconscious desires. There exists a barrier between our consciousness and the unconscious state which the animal forces are stored deep within us.

Thus by making people happy and satisfied with their selfish desires. They would be more easily controlled and influenced. Bernays was able to turn people to constantly moving happiness machines, he soon became one of the most dominant figures and had the reputation as the man who understood the mind of the crowd.

 

Modern day obsessions – WOT U :-) ABOUT?

An exhibition review

WOT U 🙂 ABOUT?
TATE BRITAIN
Millbank,
LONDON SW1P 4RG
Through Feb 9th

When I first looked at the Rachel Maclean’s exhibition poster, it was hard for me to really gather a sense of what it actually is.

A bright, colourful exhibition that has a free entry and it looks like a Jim Carrey movie in collaboration with a Katy Perry music video. ‘Should be interesting’ I thought to myself.

Mind you, I’ve never heard or have seen any of Rachel Maclean’s work. But in the brief research that I’ve made the colourful and wacky, modern fairy tale style is common. It also seems that she’s sending a social or a political message through her work, almost as if it isn’t taking itself too seriously.

I’ve been to Tate Modern but not Tate Britain so this was a good opportunity for me to finally take a trip to this establishment. There weren’t any advertisements for this gallery at the entry which I expected because of it’s uncommon and odd nature, this let me wonder around the entry and ask for directions until I found it. I also forgot to mention that I’ve arrived there late, only able to enjoy it for half an hour or so.

The exhibition was quite small with only a few posters displayed. For some reason I expected to see statues and other exhibits. The room was painted in the same colour scheme, very colourful and vibrant, really matched the work exhibited on the walls.At the center of the room there was a bench that matched the interior for people to sit down and enjoy a short movie projected on the wall. Lighting was also centered and the room was well lit, although I wish it would have been dimmed a little bit during the projection of the short clip. There wasn’t much to do after watching the short movie other than understanding the concept and the not-so-cheery aspect of the exhibition.

At the center of the room there was a bench that matched the interior for people to sit down and enjoy a short movie projected on the wall. Lighting was also centered and the room was well lit, although I wish it would have been dimmed a little bit during the projection of the short clip. There wasn’t much to do after watching the short movie other than understanding the concept and the not-so-cheery aspect of the exhibition.

One way that I would personally explain the meaning of the exhibition is that it’s a parody of what we could label as ‘Internet Fame’. It focuses on other things such as internet addiction, idol obsession, materialistic possessions which many individuals find hard to live without.

Things became more clear to me once the idea was pointed out. Every thing illustrated was a humorous interpretation of an internet slang.The whole idea didn’t affect me that much nor was somewhat unique in telling you that, yes, Internet is bad and addicting and some people binge on it. Many others have already pointed out the same problem, but the overboard fantasy style of this exhibition was not your ordinary red pill campaign. In fact,

The whole idea didn’t affect me that much nor was somewhat unique in telling you that, yes, Internet is bad and addicting and some people binge on it. Many others have already pointed out the same problem, but the overboard fantasy style of this exhibition was not your ordinary red pill campaign. In fact, it’s intentions are questionable because of the way it doesn’t take itself that seriously.Is the short clip really pointing out a

Is the short clip really pointing out a problem to begin with? All it could be doing is making modern pop art concept using today’s mainstream needs and desires, exaggerating and turning them into a hilarious and somewhat worrying alternate reality.

Surveilliance

This CTS presentation was interesting. We’ve discussed surveillance throughout time and history, and along with this topic came the questions if it is for the better or worse to be watched all the time.

People have gotten used to being monitored in certain places, and they do not feel the need to disagree with this way of security.

picture1

And whether actually being watched all the time by the higher beings of society is true or not people have had those ideas for years. Some went as far as planning and proposing an idea for monitoring certain individuals.

picture2

The panopticon is the answer for a more “civilized” prison facility. The way that the guard stationed in the centre has made it possible for him to observe every person within the cages. Sounds quite ingenious if this would be applied for facilities such as office cubicles, or something unrelated to a workplace such as an apartment.

We’ve had a discussion in which we had to ask ourselves, what exactly exercise this level of monitoring in our daily lives. What part of society is going overboard with monitoring our activity, and what’s the gap between doing it for our safety or just plainly collecting our personal information for third-party companies.

I think a lot of students mentioned that university does monitor students. Like the way we need to write our name in when we go inside during weekends. We also need to write the time and our ID.

the technology we use can also be alarming when it comes to tracking someone. The webcam and the microphone of the laptop is a key factor to black mailing someone. If you’re not careful you might end up being a victim.

Of course, most monitoring and tracking actions are always said to be for our safety. But if this information goes into the wrong hands the consequences could be treacherous.

 

Beyond Google – Using the deep web

There are constant talks about the risk of getting false information if you’re using google or Wikipedia due to the fact that it is so much accessible and everyone can edit and provide false information. It’s one thing to be able to distinguish the false information but for most students, it is almost inevitable facing a risk of invalid sources.

As some might find that looking for hours in the library is very hard to find the right academic journals for your essay, it’s better to actually browse some of the databases that are available online. It’s available to any student and best of all it’s all valid and easy to back up your points with.

Personally, when I’ve done my research for the essay in term 1, I did, in fact, use Google. It’s a habit despite being told the unreliable aspects of Wikipedia. I just didn’t know what else to use in order to find good sources available online.

I looked at library, magazines, and newspapers. But that was more time consuming than I thought, in most cases, you would need to read the book in order to find the right reference, then comes the citation part which makes it even more tedious. Using something fast as google easily makes it in favor over those primary ancient research habits.

But after this CTS session, I’ve found that there are much more search engines available to use than just Google. Much more reliable to say the least. There’s a great selection of academic image libraries that are already referenced.

We’ve made use of them during a brief workshop. We were all given a topic to research with the help of those resources available to us. The archive system in which the information is structured provided quick results of what we were looking for.

CTS – Cut to Copy

For this CTS Session, we had to answer a series of questions specifically regarding Dadaism. A unique movement, which many have thought of as a radical approach.

The questions mentioned had initiated a deep discussion about collage, it’s origin, in fact, seemed to have been earlier than some of us thought it out to be.

What is radical about this?

The first question which I don’t think was hard to answer, really. The nature of the collage being cut out from another source itself sounds very radical and not to mention absurd for its time. It’s roughly cut out a way of other sources, whether that is commercial objects or another individual’s work to create another message also feels very rebellious in a way.

The Dadaist poem was also mentioned and asked for an opinion about it. I can’t help but think of it as a vintage random poem generator of the sort.

Why are designers and artists getting out the scissors again?

As the time goes, the “newest thing” becomes redundant and dull. The newest designers crave the old ways, some want to go back to their roots and try something new.

This also makes one consider the work more, it sort of becomes more personal and time-consuming, thus one considers it more valuable.

What would designing be like without the undo function?

It’s hard to imagine a software without an undo function. Even if there was a such thing I think people would be able to solve the problem and get around the issue.

But hypothetically if this actually happened I suppose people would save their work a lot more than normal, and consider every new step they apply to the design.

Or people would actually crave creating traditionally more if this was the case, there is a certain freedom in using traditional medias that some software cannot emulate.