Ecce Signum: the significance of writing as image

Foley, Donna (2008) Ecce Signum: the significance of writing as image. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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In any given context where the subjective need of groups to survive becomes an objective desire, a shift in culture is almost certainly predictable. The considerable debate as to whether graffiti, ubiquitous in contemporary urban environments, is art or vandalism or the communicative strategies of individuals or groups who have been disaffected depends on who is producing the work, where it is, who the viewer is and who is commenting. This debate has spawned a multitude of studies of graffiti internationally. However few, if any, have given consideration to graffiti as a communicative act at the intersection of the visual and verbal. The connections and disconnections between verbal, written and visual languages in contemporary graffiti, all of which have specific properties and structural, communicative and psychological characteristics underpin the research questions of this study.

No communicative action, however, exists in a vacuum. The key to understanding the diverse communicative acts of outsiders is to locate the often multiple intertexts involved. For example, there may be a close connection between contemporary Australian graffiti (writing) and the ideologies of the culture in America, primarily through the selection of the medium. Its form, image and idea originating in the ghettos of New York and Los Angeles, the politico-religious message of Afro-American and Latino youths strike a chord here and in other capitalist countries.

Writing might be hypothesized as a battle between insiders and outsiders, or a counteraction against unilateral forms of communication (one sided and authoritarian) as exists in books, newspapers and television. Writing might also constitute a reversion to a medieval chirographic culture, the technology of writing a retroaction against typographic print culture which, until recently, was the dominant technology of the Industrial Age. Slayden et al (1999) argue that, despite the existence of more means today, less real communication is taking place; discourse has been subsumed by ritualistic and stylistic performances. The acts of writers might be considered to be of such a nature.

Personal artistic practice is driven by an abiding interest in the relationship between survival instincts and desire manifest in such communicative acts. In order to explore these questions, the data collection involved a group of volunteers photographing graffiti encountered anywhere in Australia but primarily along the east coast. The data analysis framework provided a conceptual basis for visual textual imagery reflecting the subversive elements of the social protest ethic; the initial outcome being presentation of imagery at exhibition.

However, other significant questions materialized from the visual orientation of this study of the communicative acts of Australian writers, questions which may perhaps be answered more comprehensively at the intersection of the visual and verbal than might be possible from a dominantly verbal focus in the social-sciences. Leading are the communicative acts of the current generation of electronic communicators, for example, gamers, particularly Massively Multi Online Role Playing Gamers (MMORPGs). Not only does the dichotomy of the visual and verbal shift in expressive modes of communication, the transformation of the sensorium is palpable from the keyboard to the gamepad. Ephemeral thought and its ensuing action are forever bound and may only be understood through analysis of both the visual and verbal artefact that endures after such action. Herein lies the challenge.

Item ID: 30045
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: graffiti; communication mechanisms; communicative acts; visual and verbal relationship; expressive modes of communication
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Appendix F (publication) is not available through this repository.

Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2013 01:30
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2001 Communication and Media Studies > 200199 Communication and Media Studies not elsewhere classified @ 34%
19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1999 Other Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 199999 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing not elsewhere classified @ 33%
19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1905 Visual Arts and Crafts > 190599 Visual Arts and Crafts not elsewhere classified @ 33%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950299 Communication not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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