Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Lady Gaga as (dis)simulacrum of monstrosity (Celebrity Studies)

Lady Gaga’s celebrity DNA revolves around the notion of monstrosity, an extensively and multifariously researched concept in post-modern cultural studies. This study draws on biographical and archival visual data relating to the Gaga phenomenon with a focus on the relatively underexplored live-show, with view to elucidating what is really monstrous about Lady Gaga. The argumentation that is put forward by drawing largely on Deleuze & Guattari’s notion of monstrosity, as well as on their approach to the study of sign-systems that was deployed in Thousand Plateaus, is supportive of the position that monstrosity as sign seeks to appropriate the horizon of unlimited semiosis as radical alterity and openness to signifying possibilities. In this context it is argued that Gaga is a simulacrum of herself (supreme signifier) and at the same time a (dis)simulacrum or dissimulative (feigned) simulacrum. Gaga is monstrous for her community insofar as she demands of her fans to project their semiosic horizon onto her as simulacrum of infinite semiosis, albeit a simulacrum that, in (the) reality (principle), may only be evinced dissimulatively in a feigned manner as (dis)simulacrum. Pursuant to an extensive analysis of the linguistically unarticulated, yet multimodally considerably more insightful imagery from seminal live shows during 2011-2012, Gaga’s presumed monstrosity is ultimately rendered as more akin to hyperdifferentiation. 

Keywords: monstrosity, sign systems, flows of intensity, territorialization, Lady Gaga

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Dio: A sociosemiotic/phenomenological account of the formation of collective narrative identity in the context of a rock legend’s memorial

God is dead, but, contrary to Nietzsche’s diagnosis, ‘we’ didn’t kill him; he died of cancer. This perhaps crudely cold and off-putting opening, of course, does not refer to a naively metaphorically constituted transcendental abstraction, but to a spatio-temporally situated rock legend, Ronnie James Dio. This study aims at contributing to the burgeoining research field of memory studies by providing a sociosemiotic account of the formation of collective narrative identity in the context of the memorial event of Dio. By focusing on the factors that set apart the memorial of a rock star from ordinary commemoration events alongside the identified three major categories whereby collective memory is formed, that is artifacts, processes, places, as well as according to the three key sociosemiotic metafunctions which are responsible for shaping a cultural event as sign system, the pursued interpretive route seeks to effectively contextualize how the bespoke form of situational collective memory is fleshed out.  At the same time, by expanding the interpretive canvass to incorporate phenomenological perspectives on the modes of formation of collective memory, the offered analytic is intent on tracing invisible structures that point to operative mechanisms beyond the formal constraints of a sociosemiotic reading. Both phenomenological and sociosemiotic approaches are reinscribed within an overarching narrativity paradigm, wherein their relative merits in addressing the scrutinized phenomenon are discussed in an attempt to formulate a hybrid sociosemiotic phenomenological perspective of memorial events.

Keywords: memorial, commemoration, phenomenology, sociosemiotics, rock music


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

10 years of immersion in popular music culture

Here is a small fraction of interviews, record reviews, gig reviews, special reports that I wrote for various music magazines during the decade 1990-2000, including Pop & Rock, Metal Hammer, Metal Invader, Under (dance/electronic), Music Press, Hxos & Hi-Fi, Oxy, ZOO + exclusive gig and backstage photos. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The ice-bucket challenge: The legitimacy of the memetic mode of cultural reproduction is the message (Signs & Society 3(1) 2015)

The multimodal video meme of the ice-bucket challenge or what could be perceived as a viral gimmicky prank were it not for its embeddedness in a cause-related message structure raises a ‘bucketful’ of questions for media and cultural studies. This paper focuses narrowly on unearthing who speaks in this message and what is ultimately communicated. By unpeeling the multiple layers of message structuration with view to discerning the formal structure of the concerned multimodal message, the offered analysis proceeds with an exploration of the function of the message in the context of a cultural predicament where networking and connectivity constitute overarching cultural values. The argumentative thrust that deploys against the background of the assumption that the ice-bucket challenge constitutes a meme as minimal unit of cultural reproduction that functions on both ontic and ontological levels, is intent on demonstrating that the enunciator of this unit is the meme itself that summons hosts or enunciatees to legitimate the pre-reflexive memetic mode of cultural reproduction and propagation as overarching mode of communication.

Keywords: memetics, video meme, cultural reproduction, multimodal communication, virality, ontology.  

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Brand equity planning with structuralist rhetorical semiotics

Title: Brand Equity Planning with Structuralist Rhetorical Semiotics

ISBN: 978-3-86219-706-4 (print)
            978-3-86219-707-1 (e-book)
Author: George Rossolatos
Release date: February 2014
Pages: 895
Publisher: Kassel University Press
Available for preview and purchase @

Brand Equity Planning with Structuralist Rhetorical Semiotics furnishes an innovative conceptual model and methodology for brand equity planning, with view to addressing a crucial gap in the marketing and semiotic literatures concerning how advertising multimodal textual elements may be transformed into brand associations, with an emphasis on rhetorical relata as modes of connectivity between a brand’s surface and depth grammar.  The scope of this project is inter-disciplinary, spanning research areas such as brand equity, structuralist semiotics, textual semiotics, visual and film semiotics, multimodal rhetoric, film theory, psychoanalysis. The proposed connectionist conceptual model of the brand trajectory of signification is operationalized through a methodological framework that encompasses a structuralist semiotic interpretative approach to the textual formation of brand equity, supported by quantitative content analysis with the aid of the software Atlas.ti and the application of multivariate mapping techniques. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Conducting multimodal rhetorical analysis of TV ads with Atlas.ti 7, Multimodal Communication 3(1), pp. 51-84.

This paper lays out the steps involved in the process of analyzing the rhetorical structure of TV ads with the employment of the content analytic software Atlas.ti 7. By drawing on a corpus of 87 TV commercials from brands that make up the world’s most valuable brands according to WPP’s BrandZ 2012 report and a resulting pool of 561 ad filmic segments, it will be shown (i) how TV ads may be segmented, (ii) how individual segments may be coded with one or more verbo-visual rhetorical figures in the light of three distinctive levels of analysis (on an intra-segment level, between two succeeding segments, against the background of an ad film’s “global semantic structure”) and (iii) how statistical output pertaining to the rhetorical structure of TV ads may be produced. This technically oriented analysis, which is part of ongoing research in the field of multimodal advertising rhetoric (cf. Rossolatos 2013a, 2013b, 2013c), is intended to contribute to scholarly research about the benefits that stem from combining an interpretive approach to the analysis of ads’ rhetorical configuration that is edified on film semiotics, with a quantitative approach, enabled by the employment of the content analytic software Atlas.ti 7.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Is the semiosphere post-modernist?

This paper provides arguments for and against M.Lotman’s (2002) contention that Y.Lotman’s seminal concept of semiosphere is of post-modernist (post-structuralist; Posner 2011) orientation. A comparative reading of the definitional components of the semiosphere, their hierarchical relationship and their interactions is undertaken against the two principal axes of space and subjectivity in the light of Kantian transcendental idealism, as inaugural and authoritative figure of modernity, the Foucauldian discursive turn and the Deleuzian (post) radical empiricism (sic), as representative authors of the highly versatile post-modern vernacular. This comparative reading aims at highlighting not only similarities and differences between the Lotmanian conceptualization of the semiosphere and the concerned modernist and post-modernist authors, but the construct’s operational relevance in a post-metanarratives cultural predicament that has been coupled with the so-called spatial turn in cultural studies (Hess-Luttich 2012).   

Keywords: semiosphere, space, cultural subjectivity, modernity, post-modernity.