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Research: Semiotics

Posted on by Ben Hodson

The way people respond to art and imagery is complex.  Images will not necessarily provoke the same response from different people who view it, as the study of semiotics tells us that what is signified (denoted or connoted) from a signifier (the image) depends on a number of factors including the experience of the viewer.  To deal with my main question directly I have been attempting to bring positive change through my own work and projects.  To find answers to a question such as this, it is impossible to merely theorise.  To find out if Art can change things, I have realised that I need to see for myself. There are no short-cuts.

Malcolm Miles

Posted on by Ben Hodson

In Malcolm Miles’ PHD thesis Art & Social transformation he argues that art practice should work within the crevices of the dominant society “...insert[ing] its realisations and images like the strains of a virus into the wider society, allowing them to grow as they will. In this incremental approach power becomes de-centred” (Miles, Malcolm. 2000).  This idea of infecting society like a virus appears to be one of the conclusions he draws from his research as one of the ways art practice and theory can change society for the better.  Miles who is the professor of Cultural Theory at the University of Plymouth, writes books and papers linking society to contemporary art and urban change. Miles suggests that “artists, like all citizens, have three choices: to be complicit in the dominant society (as artists serving the art market's needs for commodities, or providing embellishment for urban development); to resist, as through direct action; or to work within the crevices of the dominant society” (Miles, Malcolm. 2000)  His research deconstructed a number of non-gallery based arts initiatives which directly tried to have positive influence on social and environmental issues.  The conclusions he drew from these examples showed how art (in its widest context) has given way to direct positive influence on society even in the last three decades.