The Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology | Lund University

Plenary lectures

Visual semiotics goes cognitive / Le tournant cognitive de la sémiotique visuelle / El giro cognitivo de la semiótica visual

Plenary speakers:

Intervenants pléniers

Conferencistas Plenarios


Anne Beyaert-Geslin, Université Bordeaux Montaigne, France

Anne Beyaert-Geslin is Professor of Semiotics at the university of Bordeaux-Montaigne and director of the research axis at the MICA Lab (Mediation, Communication, Information, Art entitled Image, design, espace et mediation: l’expérience du contemporain. She provides a link between Semiotics and Communication Sciences. She has been director of a A.N.R. research program on the semiotics of scientific images and of several international research projects. She is the author of a great number of articles in French, English, Portuguese, and Chinese and well as being director or co-director of several books and special issues of journals concerned with semiotics of design, semiotics of art, especially contemporary art, photography and installation art. As an author, she has published: L'image préoccupée (Hermès-Lavoisier, 2009), Sémiotique du design (Presses universitaires de France, 2012), Sémiotique des objets. La matière du temps (Presses universitaires de Liège, 2015), Sémiotique du portrait. De Dibutade au selfie (De Boeck supérieur, 2017). She is vice-president of International Association for Visual Semiotics (AISV/IAVS) since 2015 and vice-president of French Association for Semiotics (AFS) since 2017.

Johanna Drucker, UCLA, USA

Johanna Drucker is professor in the Department of Information Studies at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA, well-known for her works combining theory and practice of art, design and humanities. She has published scientific studies on experimental typography and visual studies but also her own artistic books. In The Visible Word: Experimental Typography and Modern Art (1994), Drucker contends that much art criticism of Futurism, Dada, and Cubism has failed to appreciate the fundamental materiality of these movements in relation to both visual and poetic forms of representation. More recently, she has been very active within the digital humanities community, bringing in her previous research on history of graphical design and knowledge representation and interpretation. In her more recent work, Graphesis: Visual Forms of Knowledge Production (2014), she fuses digital humanities, media studies, and graphic design history to provide a descriptive critical language for the analysis of graphical knowledge and outline the principles by which visual formats organize meaningful content, particularly the graphical user interface. Throughout her work, she puts in practice her theories in form of projects that use graphical interfaces, archive exploration, visual perception, aesthetic provocations, and speculative computation.

Jennifer Green, University of Melbourne, Australia

Jennifer Green is a Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Her main research interests are descriptive linguistics, lexicography, multimodality in narrative practices and sign language. Among her many publications, the one of most obvious relevance for the present conference is entitled Drawn from the Ground: Sound, Sign and Inscription in Central Australian Sand Stories (Cambridge University Press, 2014) which has been described as a “tour de force” that “takes the study of language in a totally new direction” (Professor Nicholas Evans, Australian National University). Starting out form the insight that multiple semiotic resources work together in everyday interactions to form loosely coordinated partnerships or “ensembles”, she studies some of the spatial aspects of conventionalized sign in narratives, and detail how the sand space provides an additional dimension for the articulation of meanings that are distributed between various spaces and modalities.

Antonis Iliopoulos, University of Oxford

Antonis Iliopoulos is a postdoctoral researcher in cognitive archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford, UK. Involved in a project that has set out to study creative gestures in pottery making, Iliopoulos is currently exploring the semiotic dimensions of the materials and bodily techniques involved in the creative practice. As for his past experience, his doctoral research sought to elucidate the origins of the sapient mind by focusing on early body ornaments, such as the shell beads found at Blombos Cave, South Africa.

John M. Kennedy, Professor emeritus, University of Toronto

John M. Kennedy was a Professor at Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, until 2010, when he became a professor emeritus. Being a one-time student of James Gibson, he developed a new analysis of figure and ground as one of a set of foreground and background percepts, which he described as apparent surface borders, accounting for the complete set of possibilities for the rendering of surface borders in pictures. In his book A psychology of picture perception (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass 1974), he not only presented this theory, but he also made a critical review of anecdotes and experiments purporting to show that members of some human societies were unable to understand pictures, showing why this conclusion did not follow. Although he did not himself enter any discussion with structuralist semioticians, he thereby furnished the empirical evidence sufficient to refute the critique of iconicity of, notably, Umberto Eco. Kennedy himself went on to show that the same principles involving apparent surface borders allowed blind people to interpret drawings, if the lines were made three- dimensional, so that they could be detected by touch, so-called “haptic pictures”. Before and after his seminal book Drawing and the blind: Pictures to touch (Yale Press, New Haven 1993), he has been dedicated to the study of how blind people understand pictures. He has also taken an interest into notion such as metaphors and perspective.

Jean-Marie Klinkenberg, Professor emeritus, University of Liège

As a member of the interdisciplinary team known as the µ Group, Jean-Marie Klinkenberg contributed to the revitalizing the field of rhetoric, first in language, by combining the insights of the long tradition of rhetorical treatises classifying rhetorical figures with structuralist thinking and set theory, and later moving into the domain of pictorial rhetoric, well before this became fashionable, and attending very closely to the differences between language and pictures as well as their similarities. More recently, he has helped to steer semiotics in a social and cognitivist direction. His writings on semiotics and rhetoric have been translated into at least 15 languages. Klinkenberg has published many books and articles on linguistics and Francophonie, and even some individual works on the semiotics of pictures, but here we will retain two books written together with the other members of the µ Groupe: Traité du signe visual. Pour une rhétorique de l’image (Paris, Seuil 1992) and Principia semiotica (Bruxelles: Les impression Nouvelles 2015).

Douglas Niño, University of Bogota

Douglas Niño is a Professor of Semiotics at Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano. However, he also has a background in medical studies. He has had leading role in the development and consolidation of semiotic studies in Colombia and Latin America generally. He is the author of a book with the title Elementos de Semiótica Agentiva (Bogotá, UTADEO 2015) that constitutes a new approach to the general theory of semiotics putting the emphasis on the part played by the agent. The agent-agenda relationship, that is, the relation between an agent’s actions and the type of outcome that the agent seeks to achieve through his or her actions establishes the agentive approach.