Semiotics

Vapor Trails, 2006  ©David Gardner 2008

Vapor Trails, 2006 ©David Gardner 2008

WiFi connections can be few and far between campgrounds, so I will be bunching my posts together when I have a connection. Thanks for your patience. 

As a species, we seem driven by a desire to create meaning from our surroundings. We look to the sky and see mythical figures in the stars. On the ground, we see the Virgin Mary in the knots of a tree. We think and communicate through the creation and interpretation of signs and symbols. If we think and communicate only in this way, perhaps it follow that everything we touch; every mark we make is an effort to communicate – something. Signs take the form of words, images, sounds, odors, flavors, acts or objects. However, these things have no intrinsic meaning and become signs only when we invest them with meaning. Anything can be a sign as long as someone interprets it as signifying something – referring to or standing for something other than itself.

We are so geared to do this that when confronted with any kind of human marking, we try to interpret it’s meaning – even if, according to the rules of semiotics, it has none. At least in terms of meaning we may want to invest in it. When I’ve shown the above image to people, they usually ask what it says. But it’s just vapor trails from a jet. Granted the trails are a bit mysterious looking, but people really want them to mean more.

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