For a while now, I’ve been fascinated in how semantic value is born out of context and on how many levels this works. It builds on top of itself. Relativity is quite a beautiful thing. Corresponding points create a line. Corresponding lines obtain meaning according to the context of a culture. These glyphs are refined to be put next to the other to build a more complex message…and so on and so on…This can be transferred across to nearly every other aspect of the world, but it’s most interesting when using relationships for communication. This is part of why I love design. Not only does a letterform communicate literal content, but also carries with it a personality and tone. Which can again be changed in it’s context of other forms. When juxtaposed to an image, shape, color, et cetera…a message can be drastically changed, and vice versa. As Walter Benjamin states in A Short History of Photography,
“…must we not also count as illiterate the photographer who cannot read his own pictures? Will not the caption become the most important component of the shot?”
Thus, without context, an element has the greatest number of potential meanings. However, it is when these elements work together that the magic happens. As these elements are further woven, the message becomes more concrete and less subjective; allowing for clearer communication. The brain is a wonderful thing for allowing us to assemble these pieces.
While the abstract is absolutely wonderful and good in that it allows for meaning to be determine through being in the context of how it relates to the interpreter. It is placed in the context of all the experiences of that interpreter’s memory. For that reason, each interpreter can have a different meaning for that abstract element. This is probably why the minds of children are so beautiful. With a lack of as many experiences, there are lesser contexts to place things into. Therefore, the range of interpretations is far less narrow and they see things outside of the average adult’s scope.
However, we need these experiences and to understand the relationships in which we run into in our lives. We use it know where to walk, who to talk to and what to say. Even further, we use terms from previous contexts in order to translate into new contexts. You’re computer has a “desktop”, “folders” and “windows”. These terms were used to provide an understanding of how to use them elements.
The mind is a beautiful thing.