Wilhite: What Objects Mean: Chapter Three: Semiotic Approach to Material Culture

Jennifer Wilhite
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Jennifer Wilhite
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Wilhite: What Objects Mean: Chapter Three: Semiotic Approach to Material Culture
1 the science of signs , and a semiotic approach to material culture regards artifacts as signs whose meaning and significance have to be determined by the use of semiotic concept (48)
1.1 48 signs are things that stand for other things or anything that can be made to stand for something (48)
1.1.1 What is not a sign? If everything has meaning, is said meaning human construct or inherent?
2 Saussure
2.1 Sign:comprised of two parts- a sound-image and a concept (49)
2.1.1 signs function, then, not through their intrinsic value but through their relative position (50) we have to have a certain amount of product knowledge and general knowledge in order to determine how to interpret and object from a semiotic perspective (53) Research and awareness lead to greater understanding- not just of products and objects but of the culture that produces and desires them Permission to indulge in popular entertainment? Meanings of objects will change with flux in context; contexts will change with addition/subtraction of objects That with which we surround ourselves creates and reflects identity
2.1.2 we find meaning in concepts… by setting up oppositions… concepts derive their meaning from their opposites (50) Just as teens often attempt to create their own identity by becoming anything that is not their parents
2.1.3 an artifact can be thought of as a sign system, containing a number of different signifiers and signifieds (51) objects are to be thought of as signs and, in most cases, as sign systems- signs with many other signs contained within them (52)
2.1.4 Signified Sound-image: material
2.1.5 Signified Concept- the mental part
2.2 language is a self-contained system whose interdependent parts function and acquire value through their relationship to the whole – Wade Bokin on Saussure (50)
2.2.1 Closed language system-> I am not entirely sure what is difference between a closed system and an open system
2.3 Last time I read him, my brain bled. This exposure adds to my hereroglossia of signs and understanding of Saussure
3 Peirce
3.1 Three kinds of signs (54)
3.1.1 Icons: resemblance - can see- Statue (54) id- the engery
3.1.2 indexes: causal connection: can determine: clues to meaning (54) Ego: figures out and creates meaning via interpretation
3.1.3 Symbols: convention: can learn: flag conscious: Superego
3.1.4 Culler: social and cultural phenomena are not simply material objects or events but objects and events with meaning… they do not have essence but are defined by a network of relations again context gives meaning and further more, objects together create each others meaning
3.1.5 Categorization can be used in conjunction with Freud's systems
3.2 Differs from Saussure in that P's system is open, not closed
4 Barthes
4.1 there is no object that escapes meaning (56)
4.1.1 Whose is the most valid interpretation?
4.2 we have to move beyond what is obvious and an examination of the object detached from its role in the world. We must look at the way objects are used in advertising films, and the theater to gain a better understanding of what they mean for people (56)
4.3 The paradox ... these objects which always have...a function, a utility, a purose, we believe we experience as pure instruments, whereas in reality they carry other things... they function as the vehicle of meaning (56)
4.3.1 Every object has meaning- we must interpret said meaning based on context and personal experience with the object Objects have more meaning than just our experience; thus, we need to explore theories and contexts and understand others to glean more meaning!
5 Eco
5.1 (57) Umberto Eco: objects can be used to lie: signs can be used to mislead others
5.1.1 57 by using certain objects we can manipulate our identities and ‘lie’ with signs (58) people watching involves examining different kinds of material culture that people are wearing or using semiotic approach to material culture offers us the ability to interpret objects and artifacts … to explain how these objects tie in to cultural codes ... objects play varying roles in society and their meaning is not exhausted in their immediate function (60) My personal interpretation is only the Freudian tip of the ice burg in our very material culture, appearance is 90% of how people judge us I confess: I dye my blonde hair to avoid the dumb blonde stereotype
5.1.2 When does this lying become unethical?
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