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15 Vol. 15,   novembre 2014


Commemorating Charles S. Peirce (1839-1914): Interpretive Semiotics and Mass Media

a cura di Giampaolo Proni e Salvatore Zingale.



METADATI: apri il frontespizio (pdf), DOI: 10.12977/ocula27

The results we present are all examples of how Peirce is still a source of inspiration in many different fields. Moreover, his theories are actually applied in several fields of media and organisation studies, as the reader will see. The articles are in three different languages, and maybe not all our readers are fluent in Italian, English and French, but we believe, as semioticians, that languages are tools for sharing sense and interpretants, and that, if such a sharing is always kept as a goal, the risks of linguistic imperialism do not look so threatening. A multilingual community, however, seems to us as a better model than that of a single vehicular language.

Hanno collaborato a questo numero: Giorgio Borrelli, Geane Carvalho Alzamora, Valerio De Michele, Emanuele Fadda, Giacomo Festi, Jean Fisette, Carlos González Pérez, Tony Jappy, Toni Marino, María de los Angeles Montes, Giampaolo Proni, Renira Rampazzo Gambarato, Salvatore Zingale.


Introductiondi Giampaolo Proni

When we decided to plan a special issue on Charles Peirce as a tribute to the centennial commemoration of his death …
OCULA-15-PEIRCE-Introduction-Proni.pdf >leggi il documento in formato PDF [158Kb] | METADATI


Peircean semiotics and transmedia dynamics. Communicational potentiality of the model of Semiosisdi Geane Carvalho Alzamora, Renira Rampazzo Gambarato

In this article, we discuss the pragmatic relationship between semiosis and communication in order to characterize transmedia dynamics as a pragmatic offshoot of semiosis in media, a perspective that accounts for the incompleteness of the interpretant in its meditated actions. The theoretical approach is based on the communication perspective of the sign developed by Charles Sanders Peirce and his contemporary commentators, such as Parmentier (1985), Colapietro (1995, 2004), Santaella (1992, 1995, 2003, 2004), and Bergman (2000, 2003, 2007). In addition, transmedia dynamics are explored according to Jenkins (2001, 2006, 2013), Göran (2012), and Jansson (2013). We discuss the notion of media as sign mediation and transmedia dynamics as an improvement of semiosis, based on the pragmatic approach to the latter. Transmedia narratives refer to integrated media experiences that unfold across a variety of platforms, attracting audience engagement and offering new and pertinent content. Moreover, the productive incompleteness of the interpretant is taken as a conceptual parameter for understanding the way in which media consumption regulates habits and delineates the transmedia narrative in the sign process of network associations. In conclusion, we stress how the semiotic operation of representation, associating new signs and collateral experience, without losing the narrative reference (semiotic operation of determination), emerged in transmedia environments.
OCULA-15-PEIRCE-Alzamora_Gambarato.pdf >leggi il documento in formato PDF [271Kb] | METADATI


Consumo di merci-segni e di segni-merci nella riproduzione sociale | Consumption of wares-signs and signs-wares in social reproductiondi Giorgio Borrelli

Building on the achievements of Massimo Bonfantini’s pragmaticist materialism and Rossi-Landi’s “omologic” method, this article proposes a theoretical frame for the critical analysis of consumption as a category. According to Rossi-Landi, the economic phase of consumption -as well as those of production and exchange- divides into specific semiotic programs and cannot be considered without them. Therefore, to carry out a particular consumption behaviour, accounted for Rossi-Landi, coincides with performing linguistic work; to consume while respecting certain codes means to execute specific programs established by the logic of capitalistic production. Basically, consumption programs, insofar as they are habits, require an interpretation, and foster action. Yet, by means of an emancipating linguistic work, such programs can be discussed and their meaning can be changed, thus giving rise to a transforming praxis. Such dynamics can be read in the light of the elementary logic of the action process, which has been structured by Bonfantini in his materialistic reworking of Peirce’s abduction. More precisely, I propose to analyse the category of consumption – in its acceptation as a semiotically programmed behaviour – into the steps of representation, projection and programming. In short, a materialistically and pragmaticistically oriented semiotics may represent a critical tool for the analysis of consumption behaviour in the process of social reproduction.
OCULA-15-PEIRCE-Borrelli.pdf >leggi il documento in formato PDF [290Kb] | METADATI


Note per una tipologia dicisegnica | Notes for a typology of Dicisignsdi Valerio De Michele

In the Speculative Grammar, Charles Peirce proposes two types of Dicisigns: Indexical Dicisigns and Symbolic Dicisigns. Their structure seems to be a blueprint of the complete relatives introduced in the Logic of 1897. Indeed, in both cases we have an icon with blanks. An icon that shows in its full appearance the dent of a lack, the necessity to pertain to “another”. Thus Dicisigns present an iconic part (that appears as structurally independent and logically complete) on which an indexical part is grafted, exhibiting its own structural incompleteness, its necessity to pertain to another entity. As I understand them, the two typologies of Dicisigns correspond to two different ways of filling the indexical part of that deep structure. In Indexical Dicisigns, the indexical part is filled by making use of a semiosic unit also having an indexical nature. The Dicisign exhibits a predication that is applied to en entity which – in its turn – expresses itself, inside the Sign, in a symbolic mode. The Peircean model seems to be incomplete for two reasons: i) it focuses on the necessity to fill the indexical part of the sign, wholly neglecting the iconic one; ii) it focuses only on the indexical and symbolic filling of the indexical part, neglecting the possible iconic filling. Therefore i) I try to reduce the two typologies advanced by Peirce to a more general model, in which both the indexical and iconic parts of the Dicisign are considered and, moreover, ii) I try to fill all their possible blanks: iconic, indexical and symbolic. From the combination thereof we are able to obtain nine different typologies of Dicisigns.
OCULA-15-PEIRCE-DeMIchele.pdf >leggi il documento in formato PDF [316Kb] | METADATI


Esprit de corps. Sulla rilevanza della nozione peirceana di ‘persona’ per lo studio della nozione di ‘identità’ nei social media | Esprit de corps. On the relevance of Peirce’s notion of ‘person’ in the study of the notion of ‘Identity’ in social mediadi Emanuele Fadda

This contribution is the first survey on the relevance and the possible fertility of the notion of “person(ality)” as emerging from Peirce’s cosmologic and metaphysical essays published on The Monist in the 1890s (see CP 6.268 ff.) and set in the frame of some semiotic and socio-psychologic questions connected to the New Media. The article is preceded by a short reflection on the peculiar way some Peircean terms can be set in the semiotic debate. My proposal consists in the application to the study of identity management in today’s social networks (in particularly Facebook). Both the pars destruens (radical devaluation of individuality) and the pars construens (the idea of person as “coordination and connection of ideas”), together with their intersections, help us draw a perspective (based on the notion of continuity) that may support us in focusing on the most recent trends of the social networks as, for instance, the progressive shrinking of the “private” dimension, and in particular the irruption – up to sheer invasion – of corporeality in the digital universe, though the body seemed, at the outset, to be banned or at least concealed. The Peircean devaluation of individuality implies, indeed, that the body is not more individual than the mind (as Rossella Fabbrichesi has recently and brilliantly shown), becoming at any time potentially available to public existence and fruition.
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Le valenze diffrante del segno in interfaccia. Instagram vs Flickr alla luce di una rilettura peirciana | Diffracted values of the sign in interface. Instagram and Flickr in the light of a Peircean re-readingdi Giacomo Festi

In a bid to actualize some aspects of Peirce’s thought for the analysis of cultural contemporary phenomena, this article tests a re-reading that crosses the Peircean approach with the semiotic proposals of Fontanille and Basso. The typology of signs from the Speculative Grammar is re-interpreted as a mapping of the modes by which a sign acquires a semantic value, in relation to, on the one hand, expression and content, and on the other to the different fields of experience where a sign is set (image, situation and culture). The resulting values are analytically tested by comparative contrast with two contemporary apps: Instagram and Flickr, dedicated to a cultural object that was dear to Peirce: photography. The application of filters and tags, in particular, stimulates the exploration of the range of semantic values signs assume around and inside the photographic object when set in an interface.
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La photographie à l’infini. L’apport de la sémiotique de Peirce à l’étude de la photographie dans les médias | Photography to infinity. The contribution of Peirce’ semiotics to the study of photography in the mediadi Jean Fisette

The author starts by situating photography with regard to its relationships with Peirce’s semiotic thought and, in another direction, with mass media. He then draws a minimal frame of the problematics of sign within the specifically Peircean perspective. Next, five analyses of the successive modes of integration of photography within mass media are presented. Each of these readings is marked by a contextualisation and a short Peircean analysis of the movements of signification corresponding to the notion of “semiosis”. The weights and the play of relative predominance of the three components of the central triad (icon, index and symbol) are then taken into account. In conclusion, the author formulates some general considerations about a general constant: the image tends to fall back to iconicity to the detriment of the other components. The consequence is a banalising effect on the image itself, as if the media were integrating photography into their own logic, thus causing photography to lose its specificity.
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Some Peircean approaches to organizational communication. Formal and informal relations in a museumdi Carlos González Pérez

The main objectives of this work point to an analysis of internal communication processes of a natural science museum of the city of La Plata (Buenos Aires province) to explain the relationship between the formal and informal instances from some approaches to the Peircean semiotics perspective. Other experiences are also taken into account in order to consider different ways of museum´s materialization. We believe that the contribution of this semiotic view is enriching because of its triadic sign scheme and because it allows to regard nonlinear complex processes related to the cultural aspects of museums, determined by a given historical moment. The research in the theoretical directions of the authors who are included in this perspective, enables us to approach the complexity of communication processes, given that all communication is done through signs, and signs can be interpreted in one or another way and can grow and generate a more developed set of signs. We resort to specific operations of visual image semiotics to analyze the signaling in museums, and to specific operations of symbolic semiotics to analyze the discourse of interviews. Through these operations we can achieve explanations about what kind of valuation does the museum´s stuff perform about the formal communication processes and also as to the informal spaces which complement them. We can also state that some problems in the organizational structure must be resolved (as an important segmentation identified in the named museum) in order to implement a participative communication model. We identify some aspects related to extension strategies, to the studies of public, and to the relationship that the museum at study has with Argentine aboriginal communities, and likewise aspects that the organization values in the present and wants to project into the future.
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Tango, senses and sensualitydi María de los Angeles Montes

One of the most important contributions of the Peircean paradigm to semiotics consists in its opening the sign to development and modification. Sense, meaning, is no longer a static and fixed property. The Peircean paradigm allows us to wonder about how signs are interpreted, how they make sense in actual reception practices. The purpose of this paper is to address the problem of the relationship between appropriation practices (Montes, 2011) and significance processes from the analysis of an empirical case, observing how signs of sensuality are produced in the ballroom tango dance. Tango has earned international reputation mainly as a sensuality dance thanks to its spectacularization and subsequent mediatization. However, as I expect to demonstrate, at the moment of reception, people put those discourses in interaction with specific appropriation practices that shape very special interpretive habits. I will address the issue from an empirical investigation, especially focused on the production of interpretants (emotional, energetic, and logical), that is to say, looking back to the sign reception from the body to the mind. From a corpus of 25 focused interviews with people who got to know tango through mass media but that afterwards learnt to dance it as a social dance, it is my intention to show what sensuality means to them today, and how that current practice interacts with other external and previous discourses to produce interpretive habits. Finally, I wish to offer a theoretical reflection about the relationship between these three types of interpretants, their interaction with the discourse of the mass media and the place corporality has in the reception processes.
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Inference in media space. The case of IBM Software Executive Briefing Center – Romedi Toni Marino

In our paper we apply Peirce’s model of Arguments (Statistical Deduction, Probabilistic Deduction, Induction and Abduction) to a communication process where negotiating sense and meanings is emphasized. We selected a communication space where everything is planned as a medium of sense (video terminals, screens, lights, etc.) namely the IBM Software Executive Briefing Center in Italy, a workplace used to exchange views, negotiate or transact. It is based in Rome in the same building as the International Development Laboratory of the IBM Software Group. The Software Center is the place where IBM welcomes its potential customers and has the opportunity to show them its technology and offer solutions. This paper focuses on “media space” in the Center which is structured by the seller according to his/her idea of the buyer’s interpretive process. This paper analyzes the roles of visual codes in the allocation of functions. It also looks into the relation between the symbolism of the company with its marketing, past history and media space in order to define the buyer’s typology of inference (deduction, induction or abduction) in relation to the communication strategy of the media space design. The research is conducted directly in the field by interviewing the Manager of the IBM Center as well as asking people who use it to fill in an anonymous questionnaire, which analyses both the media space and the plan of the building.
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Peirce, rhetoric and the still imagedi Tony Jappy

After examining the evolution of Peirce’s changing conceptions of rhetoric in the period 1903-06 the paper explores some of the implications of a 1904 paper on rhetoric and scientific writing and then examines the rhetorical potential of Peirce’s definition of hexadic semiosis and the six-element classification system it generates with respect to a small corpus of photographic illustrations.
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Nota finale | Final Notedi Salvatore Zingale

During this year of Peirce's centennial celebration a question keeps going round in my head. perhaps a naive one ...
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Ocula- Occhio semiotico sui media

ISSN 1724-7810

pubblicata da Associazione Ocula, via Lodovico Berti, 2 40131 - Bologna