This is a commendable set of contributions to the second issue of the journal. The papers reflect varied methodologies and subject matter, and exemplify the capability of semiotics concepts, tools and research to participate in inquiry into the contemporary world. The papers share a sense of meaning making that is dynamic and exploratory: it is the work of semiotics to explore what is uncertain and emerging, in personal and public domains, as well as what is known in traditions of culture.
Nicoleta Blanariu (“Theatricalization of the Ritualistic Gesture and Dancing. A Semiotic Approach”) uses pertinent methodology to provide an erudite and dynamic exploration of theatre that illuminates the relationship between tradition and contemporaneity in very public and complex artistic forms, in particular dance. Nicoleta Blanariu uses a cogent style that simultaneously addresses varied themes, all of them capable of ongoing elaboration. These include non verbal language, especially choreographic and gestural, and the potential of artistic expression to become a transformative stimulus for other linguistic and social languages. Theatre, understood as a rich field of signifiers, becomes a useful and essential arena for inquiry into the immutability and mutability of sign systems, as well as semantic and aesthetic dimensions. This theme, pertinent in all semiotic theory, is exemplified in the capability of ancient or anthropological dance ritual to be reproduced by contemporary performers. The essay uses theatre as a research laboratory for inquiry into key themes about the potential for resemanticised and aestheticised retrieval and revival of lost cultural practices. Theory becomes an essential component of practice, and semiotics comes to provide pertinent, even essential, tools for explaining processes that might mainly be grasped intuitively by performers. In turn, theatre becomes an exemplary semiotic field in its own right, inviting modern society into the potential of rejoining seminal expressions of meaning and ritual. The paper seems to stand aside from Derridean and post modern themes about the loss of origins: the interplay of cultural origins in modern times is a key theme of this absorbing and important study.
Mary Eberhardinger (“A Semiotic Analysis of Iconicity in Japanese Manner Posters”) demonstrates the continuing use of and need for semiotic concepts and methods to capture and explain everyday, even ephemeral, products and events of popular culture, as well as providing a meta toolkit for inclusive inter-cultural analysis. This is a clever, well selected, insightful and colourful engagement with the public art form of Japanese manner posters, whose capacity for meaning making can be overlooked by passer-bys, especially in view of the functional purpose of the posters. The essay exemplifies the long standing feature of semiotic inquiry into visual and iconic forms. General ideas of globalisation are here embodied in an infusion of “history, context, and culture between Japan and the West.”
This paper successfully “unpacks” “a cultural and semiotic code” in the Japanese art, resulting in a case study of varied forms of iconicity.