Jörg Zeller
Pages 16-24


It seems obvious that signs in visual art and musical notation are static carriers of visual and acoustic information. Both types of sign, however, represent dynamic processes. In real space-time, there exists no static visible thing or static audible sound. The sources of visible or audible information are dynamic — ie. complementary substantial- energetic-informational — entities extending in space-time. The same is true of an artificial or organic receiver and processor of visual or audible information. Reality and semiosis — to be, to be perceived, and to be understood or to communicate — are dynamic processes. From a semiotic point of view, thus, pictures, photographic or artistic sign structures can’t be icons — in any case, if icons in a Peirceian manner are understood as signs representing objects for an interpretant by similarity (cf. Peirce 1994). Similarity between icon and object is not a static precondition but a dynamic result of visual semiosis, i.e. of categorizing. Seeing something or hearing something is, as a consequence, not an “intuitive” or instantaneous Gestalt shift between representamen and object ongoing in an interpretant. And so, according to Fernande Saint- Martin 1990: “visual semiotics … has to adopt an epistemology which is more in agreement with the dynamics of observed phenomena. Tt will recognize that matter is not inertness, but energy.” If the material carrier of semiosis, the representamen, already is to be understood as energy or dynamic process, all the more the whole complementary triadic sign-relation — object-representamen-interpretant — has to be understood as energetic information flow. This is being recognized in the transition from naturalistic, i.e. reproducing or mapping art, to modern, i.c. processing or interpreting/ transducing art. Paul Klee 1990 for example says about the semiotic function of visual art:

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