Ben Davis on the Semiotic Square

From what I gathered, Davis is concerned with the effects of social networking sites on the production of art. He believes that art should not conform, yet speak for itself. However, social networking doesn’t necessarily make people conform to anything, other than appreciation of things.

He begins by defining art and social media. He believes art is defined by traditional products or different communicative acts executed at a professionally. Social media is defined by new media platforms which are highly accessible. Thus, these two factors are in opposition. One is an exclusive type on expression, the other a public, status-based way of expression. He believes this causes tension between the two, disallowing them to be in harmony.

Davis moves on, introducing the concept of The Semiotic Square. Not the easiest concept to wrap your head around. The Semiotic Square is made up of Contradictory terms which each form potential relationships:

a  &  b     +    non-a  &  non-b

A quaternary field which both mirrors the original opposition and the same time opens it.”- Krauss

He uses the examples art, amateur art, social media and video games.

The top axis is traditional art displayed on social applications. Or social applications displayed as traditional art. He then says something about a standard for traditional art and it’s opposition with performance art, which is ‘social’ because it involves direct interaction with the viewer.

[Coffee Break]

The left-hand vertical is apparently social in concept and subject matter, and traditional in medium..similar to what I said before..but it’s safer to just keep going.

I don’t agree with him that advertisement isn’t social…

and I have no idea what he’s on about. -.-

I like Warcraft too.

“In such works, the fact that the medium is closed (“non-social”) is part of the point, since the whole fun is in doing something by manipulating the world’s pre-given signifiers. But it’s also important that this form of creativity represents a subculture of amateur production (“non-art”) — it’s a fan-oriented phenomenon, existing at a reflected second remove from mass culture.”

“Contemporary art” defines itself as a special sphere, not just different but better — more sophisticated and smarter — than other media phenomena.”

I don’t think it does. I think both contemporary art and social applications form a mutual relationship and create new platforms for artist to advance their work and explore their concepts further. Social applications  permit art to become accessible to everyone, not just a sophisticated crowd. Thus allowing art to depict culture, and not just Western European culture, but global cultures truthfully.

There are a couple of problems with combining the two. Firstly, the fact that all works out there without watermarks, and even with, can be stolen. It’s so easy to save, download, print screen and print that when you put your work on any social media application you can never keep track of it. Who knows what will happen with it, if anything at all. And secondly, that social status can play a part in success due to popularity from social applications.

. . . Reading on Davis appears to agree with me.


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