Semiotics of cinema. Front Cover. I︠U︡riĭ Mikhaĭlovich Lotman, Jurij Lotman. Dept. of Slavic Languages and Literature, University of Michigan, – Motion. Semiotics of Cinema. Front Cover. Jurij Lotman. University of Michigan, – Motion pictures Bibliographic information. QR code for Semiotics of Cinema. Available in the National Library of Australia collection. Author: Lotman, IU. M. ( IUrii Mikhailovich), ; Format: Book; viii, p. ; 21 cm.

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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. On Yuri Lotman’s concept of “the mythological”.

The interdepen- dence of the verbal and the visual in cinema has been asserted, denied, and generally commented on by film theoreticians. The coexistence of iconic and conventional sign- processes in a filmic text is an unavoidable theoretical subject for the semiotics of cinema.

On the other hand, the dichotomy between the verbal and the visual opens up a host of directly or indirectly related further problems.

The word is apt, and should be preserved. I would describe as photogenic any aspect of things, being, or souls whose moral character is enhanced by filmic reproduction. And any aspect not enhanced by filmic reproduction is not photogenic, plays no part in the art of cinema.

Of course, the photographic and cinematic image has iconicity in that the image resembles what it represents, but with respect to sign type it more closely corresponds to indexical sign. Photographs, especially instantaneous photographs, are very instructive, because we know that in certain respects they are exactly like the objects they represent. But this resem- blance is due to the photographs having been produced under such circumstances that they were physically forced to correspond point by point to nature.

In that aspect, then, they belong to the … class of signs … by physical connection [the indexical class].

Semiotics of Cinema

Bazin, Authenticated lotmania hufs. The film is no longer content to preserve the object, enshrouded as it were in an instant, as the bodies of insects are preserved intact, out of the distant past, in amber … Now for the first time, the image of things is likewise the image of their duration, change mummified as it were. For Barthes, highly eminent in semiotics methodology, raising a question as such can be an extremely radica- lized form of self-reflection on his own theoretical foundation.

In a short article inBarthes reveals an intense frustration with the institutionalization of the semiotic method, which he introduced in Mythologies in the s. The filmic is that in the film which cannot be described, the representation which cannot be represented.

The filmic begins only where language and metalanguage end. Two paths might be taken. Second, we can decisively throw out a few basic assumptions crucial to the semiotics of cinema, already by and large relying on the phenomenological position.

While the former asserts that there is no completely autonomous cinematic image that is outside of cultural codes Ecothe latter insists that the cinematic image is not a sign system in origin Iampolski According to Eco, a semiotics of film is possible if one accepts that semiotics is neither a province nor a byproduct of linguistics.

But its laws lie outside cinema and film, they are the laws of signification in general. What is my attitude to semiotics of cinema today? In our consciousness we never operate with iconic signs, which are given to us as a repre- sentation of something not here existing.


Rather, my question is quite simple. Do any ways exist for seeing this specific kind of cinematic phenomenon whose domain cannot seem to be explicated fully by the semiotic model, not just rejecting it altogether or allocat- ing it as a transcendental mysterious or subjective realm? Then, will there be any alternative way to explain this, admitting the problematic aspect of this situation? On the contrary, we have to say that it is extremely marginal.

Knowing that we are watching an artistic story, i. A semiotic of film is possible if one accepts that semiotics if neither a province nor a byproduct of linguistics.

Everything which we notice during the presentation of a film, everything that excites and affects us, has meaning. In order to learn how to understand these meaning it is necessary to master the system of meanings, just as we do in the case of classical ballet, symphonic music or any other sufficiently complex, traditional art form. The cinema, in its constant interweaving of the conventional and the iconic, provides an exceptionally clear model of bipolar asymmetry.

The process of their mutual transfer is one of the essential aspects of cultural comprehension of the world by humans employing sings. Cinema, as a special sort of art, not only reveals but uses this process of mutual transfer most evidently and consciously.

Rather, it is found at the most elementary level of the cinematic phenomenon — namely, the problem of re presenting humans on the screen. In a mythological world, the governing rule of semiosis is quite different from an ordinary type. In myth, everything — not only human beings but also all objects — has its own name. Quite noteworthy are typical examples of this connection between some typical plot situations and the nominal character of the mythological world: Generally, such a situation of naming is considered a kind of act of creation.

Taboos against using common nouns, for example the names of diseases where naming an illness aloud would be considered as invoking it: Myth corresponds to what is nominal, and name to what is mythological. On the other hand, all the more interesting is the specific status of the proper name in our language system. A proper name is itself quite a specific component of our natural language. As Jakobson has properly commented: The circularity is obvious: The appellative pup means a young dog, mongrel means a dog of mixed breed, hound is a dog used in hunting, while Fido means nothing more than a dog whose name is Fido.

If particularity is individuality grasped from the per- spective of generality, singularity is the opposite concept, referring to individual- ity that can neither belong to the sphere of generality any longer nor be repeated. Owing to the principal individuality singularitya proper name is not able to be translated to any abstract generalized sign.

Semiotics of cinema – I︠U︡riĭ Mikhaĭlovich Lotman, Jurij Lotman – Google Books

og It is not a sign that can be separable from the object being signified, but is its undividable feature. In a world where everything is called by proper names, everything must be extremely well known, familiar, and intimate to semiotice. According to Lotman, presenting everything as something old, kind, familiar, and so closely correlated with people, is not ov a typical feature of myth, but also of cinema.


Just as every common noun in myth can be functionally equated to a proper name, cinema transforms whatever it films into an extremely intimate thing, which is characterized as non-repeatable individuality. Cinema brings us to the world, where every person appearing on screen — friend and enemy — is interrelated with spectators in an extremely close, intimate relationship. While the stage actor attempts to fit the role com- pletely, the film actor always exists in two forms: The personal aura surrounding an actor, together with characteristics of his external appearance, is a totally cimema factor for cinema He is an individual singularity, which in essence cannot be translated that is, generalized into common names.

This method of focusing, not applicable on the stage or in painting, provides cinematic images of the human body parts with special meaning. They semitoics be described in various axiological, ethical, and aesthetic categories, and these categories themselves are also changing by cultures and ages. But really is that all? Together with these, we come to see an actor on screen as a phenomenological object.

For Balazs, a close-up image is inherently anthropomorphic. Can we ascribe the quality of sign to that photogenic image? If not, then what do we have to call it? Nevertheless, this specific sign-formation is far from being a completely new invention that Deleuze came up with in a day.

Strictly speaking, it has existed from the beginning, when cinema began identifying itself as an aesthetically autonomous media in the s. It lies that Authenticated lotmania hufs.

But, nonetheless, we could affirm its undeniable existence and constant influence left in the form of trace: All the more interesting is that this concept also refers to changes in the personality of the subject of communication.

Not long before passing away, Lotman had expressed his wish for the Tartu- Moscow School as follows. It also seems to be relevant for the semiotics of cinema today: Snake, as the symbol of wisdom, grows up, throwing off its skin. Du visage au cinema. Theory of the film: Character and growth of a new art.

Der sichtbare Mensch oder dei Kutur des Films. Research notes on some Eisenstein stills. In Image — music — text, 52— The ontology of the photographic image. Critical concepts in media and cultural studies, vol. Factory of gestures [in Russian].

Deleuze, Peirce, and the cinematic sign. Semiotic Review of Books 15 2. University of Minnesota Press. Scale and detail in the cinema. Bipolar asymmetry, indeterminacy, and creativity in cinema. Encounters and extensions, — University of Wisconsin Press.

On the contribution of film to semiotics. Introductory readings, 3rd edn. In Richard Abel ed. The essential bone structure: In Eisenstein Rediscovered, — Language — body — event: Cinematography and the pursuit of meaning [in Russian].

Shifters, verbal categories, and the Russian verb. In Selected Writings, vol. The fundamental aspects of semiotixs theoretical evolution of Yuri M.