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Meaning, Mind and Communication

Explorations in Cognitive Semiotics

Edited By Jordan Zlatev, Göran Sonesson and Piotr Konderak

This volume constitutes the first anthology of texts in cognitive semiotics – the new transdisciplinary study of meaning, mind and communication that combines concepts and methods from semiotics, cognitive science and linguistics – from a multitude of established and younger scholars. The chapters deal with the interaction between language and other semiotic resources, the role of consciousness and concepts, the nature of metaphor, the specificity of human evolution and development, the relation between cognitive semiotics and related fields, and other central topics. They are grouped in four sections: (i) Meta-theoretical perspectives, (ii) Semiotic development and evolution, (iii) Meaning across media, modes and modalities, (iv) Language, blends and metaphors.

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Chapter 5. Design Semiotics with an Agentive Approach: An Alternative to Current Semiotic Analysis of Artifacts (Juan Carlos Mendoza Collazos)


Juan Carlos Mendoza Collazos

Chapter 5

Design Semiotics with an Agentive Approach: An Alternative to Current Semiotic Analysis of Artifacts

1. Introduction: the need for a new design semiotics

Artifacts have played a central role in social relations since the dawn of history. Most of our relationships are mediated by artifacts. In recent centuries, humankind’s relationship with artifacts has taken on unprecedented importance. Human systems are held and operated by a complex network of devices that make life in society possible. In addition, these devices have evolved from simple instrumental tools to ones that have considerable symbolic and significative value. Artifacts are elements of symbolic mediation by means of which individuals create social ties and activate processes of self-identification and mutual recognition (Setiffy 2014). For this reason, the semiotic analysis of artifacts has been a field of study of great interest not only in sociology, archeology and anthropology, but also for professions that specialize in the design of artifacts such as industrial design, graphic design and architecture. In this chapter, agentive semiotics (Niño 2015) is presented as a new approach to the semiotic analysis of artifacts.

Design semiotics aims to explain how the products of professional design signify (Vihma 2007:225). From the earliest output of design theory and research, semiotics has been a core interest. Cid Jurado (2002) establishes four stages in the development of design semiotics: (1) the stage of precursor studies on objects (artifacts) and their...

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