Semiotics & Media

– a concentrated seminar –


Frieder Nake

Winter 2020/21, University of Bremen

29 Oct 20, 14-16 | 12 Nov 20, 14-16 | 26 Nov, 14-16 | 25 & 26 Feb 21, 10-17, MZH 1110

A bit unusual format: Three preparatory meetings and two days of presentations

The founder of modern semiotics, Charles Sanders Peirce, wrote this: "All my notions are too narrow. Instead of 'signs', ought I not to say medium?" By saying this, he announces a terminological identity between the two terms, sign and medium. Occasionally, current times are called an "epoch of media", if not sweepingly, "media society". When we are asked, what a medium is, a first simple answer can always be: "an in-bet¬ween". A medium is something between two others, thus establishing a link between the two: a "relation". The sign is introduced by Peirce explicitly also as a relation! He specified the sign as a relation of three components, or dimensions (Peirce preferred to call them "relata"). How are media and signs different, how are they the same? Since we are studying Digital Media, we must develop an understanding of those two fundamental concepts.
We will start into the seminar with three meetings (see below) that are dedicated to introducing the topic, to gain a first understanding of the Peircean concept of "sign", of semiotics in general, of the general concept of "media", and of "digital media" in particular. I will introduce a list of papers on semiotics, on media, and on digital media. As a participant, you will be asked to select one from that list of papers and turn it your paper. This will mean that you study it carefully, select from it what you think is worth and interesting to discuss, and present your paper by that selection at our closing session. You may work on this alone or in a pair. We schedule for two days of presenta¬tions towards the end of the term. Details will depend on the number of active participants. We will try to meet in person in any case, trying to stay away as much as possible from Corona. If circumstances require differently, we'll adjust to that.