As a PhD student of semiotics at Tartu University I have worked as a lecturer in Methodology of Semiotic Analysis for three years, specializing in the sign theory of Charles Sanders Peirce. I have also lectured in Semiotics of Art and Semiotics of Literature using Charles Peirce and Juri Lotman to develop an integrated theory ofsemiotic aesthetics.
The most exciting problem I’m working on right now
My research has lately gravitated around the question of how artistic texts restore the perception of sub-symbolic signs to the receiver. In other words I ask, how does the enurement to the use of concepts and rationality eclipse the presence of sensory and emotional stimulus? And, how can we taxonomize these different modes of engagement using existing theories of the sign? The artistic text is cast as a tool for disrupting the hold of symbols so that sub-symbolic signs erupt again into awareness of the myopic subject.
Insights from semiotics
Semiotic thinking identifies internal contradictions and ruptures in closed univocal messages, facilitating the prediction of emergent codes. Signs arise at the intersection of previously unassociated correlations and similarities. Because artistic texts aredesigned to resist single interpretations reducible to concepts, the study of such texts informs the production and analysis of all sorts of messages. Finding the nodes of unpredictability in seemingly homogeneous messages makes it possible to articulate the array of possible meanings a receiver may impart on them independent of their senders. This style of semiotic thinking is useful in the study of media, advertising, philosophy, and all kinds of academic literature.
Expectations for Semiofest
Semiofest will be a charged mingled space ripe for making contact with practitioners of applied semiotics, and I hope to meet people who know the way toward zones for channeling the abstruse arcana I have mined in the halls of Tartu semiotics toward concrete applications. I also expect dignitaries from abroad to find the richness of the Estonian semiotic context as a crossroads of cultural dynamism in the asymmetrical, anachronistic alleys of Tallinn, and the surprising innovation springing up around the venue of semiofest, which is near the epicenter of new cultural production in Estonia. I expect Semiofest to be a chrysalis for the international perception of Estonia as fertile land for innovation.
Tyler is one of Semiofest’s program coordinators and also works on the 25 Tools: Field Guide for Semiotic Thinking project. He is a PhD student and lecturer at the Department of Semiotics, University of Tartu, Estonia.