Semiology (M2)

De erg

Professor: Fleur Courtois

Proceeding from the shift toward a pragmatics of images, this course deals with “semiotic investigations.” While contemporary art has well understood that language, more than being meaningful, was performative (see Austin’s Doing Things with Words), and managed to play along with this notion, the linguistic model — performative or not — is increasingly moribund. Language games result in incompressible image games. Practically, these semiotic investigations will put a work (from contemporary art or experimental film) in relation with a semiologic issue related to an artistic and political commitment, and informed by specific theoretical references to the pragmatics of images. While the course will follow an underlying thread in order to better grasp the pragmatic relationship with images, the issues explored, for their part, will imply each time a semiologic arrangement/layout proper to the artistic approach: what kind of pragmatic force is at play in this particular image? Or, to put it more plainly: what can this image do, given that it is embodied by what it reveals or hides, by what it presents as fearsome or innovative, by what it implies, refers or refuses, by what it engages, situates, or extracts. As a consequence, the image will not be considered as a medium, a representation, a mode of mediation or a mirror, but as the “scream” of a work, what it has to offer as this scream, here and now. Instead of asking, “What can language do?” (the linguistic semiology of images), we will turn our attention toward pragmatic issues in which images are apprehended as living blocks of sensations, as directed gestures: “What can this gesture, this body, this perceptual or sensory confusion do? What can these intensive features do, what can color, landscape, the drive toward imperceptibility, duration, motion or sound do when each one is expressed as a scream?