Tuesday, 10 August 2010

…all experience is experience of meaning | Derrida

Jacques Derrida's Deconstructionism looked to subvert binary oppositions that shape our dominant ways of thinking, and through textual interpretation lead to alternative meanings. The philosophical aspect to Deconstructionism leads him towards a "metaphysics of presence”. It is within this framework that the quote that Barnard makes in his book Graphic Design as Communication needs to be understood. Barnard says,

“There is a sense in which no images are at all meaningful without words. This is the sense in which words are necessary even to see or experience an image: without using language, one could not even identify what a picture contained, let alone describe that content or experience to someone else. To this extent, all experience is experience of meaning, as Derrida says. Without language, the image would not be experienced in any meaningful or communicable way at all and could, therefore, hardly be described as a experience at all.”
(Barnard, 2005, p45)
The core of Visual Communication rests in the relationship between text/image, and as Frsacara argues, in the performance of that relationship to incite a change of behaviour of the viewer. Barnard explains the rhetorical and semiotic structure underlying this relationship. Although my argument isn't purely a Deconstructive one (as I am interested more in a phenomenological position, with pragmatism as a philosophical framework through which to view the aesthetic experience), Derrida is useful to unpick the semiology of how the ralationship works. To understand Barnard's statement I have followed his citing of Derrida back to the original source. Here are two paragraphs from Julia Kristeva's interview with him in the 1981 book Positions, that puts Barnard into a philosophical context.

"Subjectivity - like objectivity - is an effect of différance*, an effect inscribed in a system of différance. This is why a of différance also recalls that spacing is temporization, the detour and postponement by means of which intuition, perception, consummation - in a word, the relationship to the present, the reference to a present reality, to a being - are always deferred."
(Derrida, 1981, pp28-29)
"Kristeva: It is said that the concept of 'meaning' in semiotics is markedly different from the phenomenological concept of 'meaning.' In what ways, however, are they complicit, and to what extent does the semiological project remain intrametaphysical?
Derrida: It is true that at first the phenemonological extension of the concept of 'meaning' appears much wider, much less determined. All experience is experience of meaning (Sinn**). Everything that appears to consciousness, everything that is for consciousness in general, is meaning. Meaning is the phenomenality of the phenomenon."
(Derrida, 1981, pp29-30)
* différance A new concept of writing, examining the internal and external semiological oppositions
** Sense, generally synonymous with meaning at a conceptual level [Bedeutung]

References used:

BARNARD, M. (2005) Graphic Design as Communication. Abingdon: Routledge.

DERRIDA, J. (1981) Semiology and Grammatology: Interview With Julia Kristeva. In: J. DERRIDA. Positions. London: The Athlone Press, pp 15-36.

FRASCARA, J. (2004) Communication Design: Principles, Methods and Practice. New York: Allworth Press.

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