Materials to the text: Mimesis and semiosis
1. COMBINATION OF SIGNS WITH DIFFERING KINDS OF MOTIVATION (1) GENERAL
There are five kinds of signs according to the degree of motivation. They may be combined as follows:
The classification of the examples learns that there are two kinds of combination: a purely additive: combination and the more sophisticated condensation.
(01) combination van visualisations with unmotivated signs:
- visualisations are often combined with text (names of organs, cities, rivers...), numbers, arrows, mathematic symbols and what have you
- on the score of Ligeti's 'Aventures' pitch and duration are visualised and combined with phonetic script
- 'this is really BIG': the size of the letters is the visualisation of quantity.
- in scores, pitch is visualised by 'height' on the staff, whereas duration is rendered in an unmotivated code.
- In many a rebus, unmotivated signs like letters, syllables or words are condensed with size or position as analog visual signs (above, below, in and so on):
additive: image of a peace dove with the words 'peace' added
(03) combination of imagesigns with unmotivated signs
additive: satellite photo with arrows indicating cities; anatomic plate with the name of the organs
- shape of letters read as imagesign: the 's' of 'snake' as a snake; the m of 'moutain' as mountain:
(04) combination of objectsigns with unmotivated signs.
additive: item in a shop window with name, price and so on
(05) combination of symbols with visualisations
additive: map with Eiffel tower as a symbol of Paris; map with individual animals as symbols for species; map of the low countries in the shape of a lion
condensed: Heartfield's capitalist who gives money to Hitler, whose importance is indicated by his size
(06) combination of imagesigns with visualisations:
additive: borders drawn on satellite photos
condensed: driving directions indicated as essentialised imagesigns of routes in a pure route map
(07) combination of objectsign with visualisation
graph where one value is rendered as the image of an object
(08) combination of imagesign with symbols:
additive: rendering of Eiffel tower on satellite photo; a cloud or some raindrops as symbol on a weather map
condensed: normal, but foremost metaphoric predication: a symbol condensed with an image
(09) combination of imagesign with symbol
additive: Mr Proper in the kitchen
(10) combination of objectsign with symbol?
Back to 'Semiosis and mimesis'
COMBINATION OF SIGNS WITH DIFFERING KINDS OF MOTIVATION (2): VISIALISATION, MAP AND LANDSCAPE
A striking example of combination of visualisation with imagesign, that eventually leads to a complete replacement of the visualisation with the imagesign, is the road map. Driving directions are invisible, but we can visualise them through a line, as when we visualise the invisible orbit of a planet: think of a metro map, or of the map below on the left, with routes converging in Santiago de Compostella. On the second map, the position of the cities is no longer arbitrary: it corresponds with the real geographical position of the cities, the rendering of which is motivated through visual analogy (translation of the degree of latitude and longitude in 'height' and 'breadth'). Such a rendering coincides with what we would get to seem from a bird's eye view. Thus, we can read the points as visualisations that are additionally motivated by images of cities which are essentialised and idealised, whereby the size of the circles can function as a sign for the size of the cities. On the third map, also the visualisation of the driving directions is additionally motivated through visual likeness with roads, as they would look like from a bird's eye perspective. The highways are rendered through two red lines, which we can read as tracks, separated through a yellow line. We may compare with the rendering of the circulatory system. The visual likeness is essentialised and idealised in view of the readability of the sign: the red and the yellow discerns the highways from ordinary roads, which are red or yellow, and from rivers, which are blue. The additional motivation may become so dominant, that the map is no longer read as a visualisation of driving directions, but as a strongly essentialised and idealised image of a road system, on which we can also read driving directions, so that the visualisations has become an imagesign in that respect, comparable with the rendering of blood vessels in a body.
Back to ''Conclusions from the inquiry into the motivation of signs'
© Stefan Beyst, mei 2010
Share on Facebook
Review of alternative approaches: Nelson Goodman, Arthur Danto, W.J.T Mitchell, Gottfried Boehm,
Your reaction: mail to stefan beyst
Stay informed about new texts: mailinglist
Background to this text: stefan beyst: theory on art