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Intellectual Paradigms + Thinkers II

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Leanne Caroll

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Week 6a
Critical Thinkers + Intellectual Paradigms Part II
-Semiotics, structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction
-while most paradigms look at the MEANING of a work, semiotics looks at WHY/HOW
meaning (+interpretation) is even possible
-study of science (words, images, sounds, gestures, objects, ideas) -> how they represent
-signs art part of a system or structure
-science is possible not bc of any inherent meaning, but because signs are PART of a
-there are RULES to communication/expression that underpin all cultures
-shifts from the producer to the SYSTEM that allows expressions/interpretations
-the viewer is a conduit through which meaning flows
-the most influential ideas for ART HISTORY come from:
1) Sassure: linguist
-proposed that linguistic analysis could provide a basis for semiology
-parole: individual utterances/statements
-langue: wider system in which these utterances are located
-sign: composed of 2 parts:
-signifier: the form that the SIGN takes. Eg. Word “tree” (the literal form of the
word on the page, its sound, etc.)
-signified: the concept to which the sign refers
-the relationship between these two is arbitrary; but the signifier is ACCEPTED + used
-onomatopeic words =motivated signs -> are still conventions even though they sound
like the meaning they’re conveying
-language CREATES our reality; anti-realist
-vs. Realist (who believes these are things in the world irregardless of who observes
-meaning is created DIFFERENTIALLY
-> signs only get their meaning by being different from other signs in the system;
eg. The word “low has meaning because it’s different fromlaw, and bc it’s opposite
-“tree” only make sense to us because it’s different from any other combination of letters
-Dyachronic: Philological approach (looks at HOW words CHANGE over time), as
opposed to the SYSTEM of language + meaning. Sassure chooses synchronic approach
-Synchronic: the system at a particular moment
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-Krauss: analyzes Picasso’s Bowl w Fruit, Violin, + Wineglass. (not necessary but Read
up on it!)
-disclaims biographical approach
-artist is not controller of meaning; but meaning is produced by the viewer DECODING
those signs
-art history does not exist on an inadequate mimetic theory (artist bio, narrative/outer
context in artwork, what is this, who’s who, what’s what), but its extended meaning
-the painting:
a) looks at the “f-hole signs on the violin and saysthey are not JUST literal f-
holes. But looks at them in terms of synchronic meaning:
-lines aren’t symmetrical, one’s bigger, thicker, than the other, etc.
b) newspapers: meaning is not found in the newspapers, but rather, the two-
dimensionality functions to highlight aerial perspective
-these signs function to highlight the WAY in which meaning can even be possible or
how meaning is conveyed
-these collages are about a meta-language of the individual
Charles Peirce (similarity/universality in visuals)
-distinguished different kinds of signs
-while different languages have different words for trees, one does fine SIMILARITY in
representations of trees across different cultures to signify a “same?” idea of tree.
1) Icon: a sign that works by resemblance. Refers to an object tin the world. Eg.
2) Index: a sign that does not resemble an object but provides traces/evidence of
its existence
eg. Smoke is an indexical sign for fire, scar=cut
photographs are indexical => traces of the subject
3) Symbol: closest to Sassure’s understanding of the generic sign. While Peirce
did not consider signs to be arbitrary like Sassure, he still looked at its _____________.
-All signs produce meaning through the same process
a) Object: thing or idea of anevent being represented
b) Sign itself; connects viewer to the world
c) Interpretant: person or self
-Peirce’s method is more useful than Sassure
-Krauss: essay on Oppenheim’s Identity Stretch
-while works are diverse, these works are united by the characteristic of indexicality
-Bann: The return from the Fair of Flagey
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