Toward Urban Cinesemiotics: Context, Urban Theory and the Dynamicity of an Image-sign

Authors: Hamed Goharipour*, Kansas State University
Topics: Cultural Geography, Qualitative Methods, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: Urban Cinesemiotics, City, Film, Peircean semiotics, Dynamic object, Dynamic interpretant
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Senate Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In many academic fields today, cinematic representations are rich sources through which researchers recognize and interpret phenomena. Using cinema as the global form of visual texts is both useful and to some extent even necessary in the study of urban phenomena. Geography was probably the first discipline that continuously attempted to conceptualize the notion of 'cinematic city.' The relationship between city and cinema, then, has been taken into consideration from the perspective of Art, film and media studies, and architecture. In recent years, although this interdisciplinary topic has been addressed by scholars with the background in urban planning and design, little in the way of effective, continuous utilization of movies in urban studies has occurred. The failure is not necessarily appreciation, but capability; arguably, the lack of an urban-oriented methodology is an important reason why urban studies has not paid deep attention to the cinema to date. From a critical interpretive position, using a qualitative approach, this study has developed a new, dynamic methodological framework to show how researchers may interpret the city and its urban experience through cinema. Based on Peirce’s triadic model of semiotics and his famous Icon/index/symbol typological distinction, using urban theory, ‘urban cinesemiotics’ helps an interpreter to get close and closer to the final ‘interpretant.’ In relation to the dynamic notion of ‘object,’ this study shows how the dynamic interpretation of image-signs can move us toward a different way of thinking about the process of urban experience.

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