Design Inspirations: Wassily Kandinsky and Andy Warhol

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Today’s beautiful Google Doodle honours Wassily Kandinsky. More info:

Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky’s 148th birthday has been celebrated in a Google Doodle illustration today that reflects his own distinct abstract style.

The artist, who is credited with being the first painter to produce purely abstract works, used colour as an expression of emotion, often likening the process of painting to composing music.

via Wassily Kandinsky’s 148th Birthday: Why is the painter is being celebrated in a Google Doodle? – News – Art – The Independent.

Pop art is an art movement that emerged in the mid-1950s in Britain and in the late 1950s in the United States. Pop art presented a challenge to traditions of fine art by including imagery from popular culture such as advertising, news, etc. In pop art, material is sometimes visually removed from its known context, isolated, and/or combined with unrelated material. The concept of pop art refers not as much to the art itself as to the attitudes that led to it.

via Pop art – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

[American pop art] share[s] a direct attachment to the commonplace image of American popular culture, but also treat the subject in an impersonal manner clearly illustrating the idealization of mass production. Andy Warhol is probably the most famous figure in Pop Art, in fact, art critic Arthur Danto once called Warhol “the nearest thing to a philosophical genius the history of art has produced”.

via Pop art – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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Is it just me, or is the Elf on the Shelf even creepier than Furbies?

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The Elf On The Shelf conditions children to accept a surveillance state, argues professor

via Elf On The Shelf conditions children to accept a surveillance state, argues professor | Daily Mail Online.

Christopher Fairman “Fuck: Word Taboo and Protecting Our First Amendment Liberties”

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Fairman establishes that most current usages of the word have connotations distinct from its meaning of sexual intercourse. The book discusses the efforts of conservatives in the United States to censor the word from common parlance. The author says that legal precedent regarding its use is unclear because of contradictory court decisions. Fairman argues that once citizens allow the government to restrict the use of specific words, this will lead to an encroachment upon freedom of thought.

via Fuck: Word Taboo and Protecting Our First Amendment Liberties – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Thoughts? I haven’t read the book, just saw this article featured on Wikipedia’s homepage. I would agree that in normal conversation, while “fuck” can be used in a literal sense, it’s much more often used figuratively – a lot like many other taboo words. (Think of phrases like “what the hell” and “____-ass”.) I’m not the biggest fan of psychoanalysis as an analytical framework, though, despite feeling that in its time it was perhaps a necessary breath of fresh air. Perhaps an interesting, nonconventional angle to help you think outside the box, but not a theory I like to guide my scholarship with, in general.

#Hashtag …and other thoughts

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Hashtags have become such a common practice these days that people have started using them outside of their intended purpose. People use them in text messages, chats, songs, and advertisements.

via How to Use Hashtags on Every Social Media Network | Sprout Social.

As a semiotician, I find this very interesting. It suggests to me that hashtags started out with relatively uncomplicated semantic value, but have become a quasi-linguistic phenomenon with much richer meaning. Much in the way that human beings will, purposely or without planned direction, reshape the connotations, denotations, and forms of words (see my earlier post linking to Dictionary.com’s slideshows), it seems that we’ve expanded the meaning of hashtags. While for me, the word “hashtag” (signifier) denotatively still refers to the visual pound sign # (signified), the connotations are much richer. The sign act (if I may so put it) that we engage in when using this signifier and signified has come to include socio-cultural phenomena that are linked to the use of hashtags: The frivolity or grassroots empowerment, depending on how you see it, of the social media trend; the age-old debate about whether the latest crop of young people is ruining the world or saving it (I frequently cite Socrates’ distaste for the burgeoning fashion of writing as an example of how far back this goes). Perhaps the hashtag has become a visual, verbal, and experiential metaphor for our experience(s) of digital life, as intertwined generations, cultures, and societies?

Now I’m extra excited for the documentary Life After Digital, airing on TVO at 9PM Wednesday, December 17!