A Celebration of Semiotic Thought and Application

Semiofest, which annually celebrates semiotic thinking, held its second event in May 2013 in Barcelona after its successful first edition in London, 2012.

The Spain conference featured a panoramic amalgamation of perspectives from the worlds of academia and commercial semiotics, helping most delegates to take away an integrated perspective of “applied semiotics”.

The two-day conference was held at Anaglifos Art Factory, a quaint gallery, which with its surrealist background, was perfect for the event, not least because the name ‘Anaglifos’ means two-colored Anaglyph glasses that yield an integrated 3D image.

Semiofest 2013 started off with a presentation on ‘Making Semiotics Useful’ and a brainstorming team session on how to refine and sharpen the application of semiotics, led by Malcom Evans and Gemma of Space Doctors.

This was then followed by a multitude of presentations on applied semiotics, including frameworks for interpreting advertising through a semiotic lens, leveraging design semiotics for interface design and use of semiotics, along with innovative approaches like mobile ethnography to yield richer insights, to name only  few.

A few papers argued the need for applied semiotics to look at opportunities for collaboration with neuroscience or opportunities for developing seminal frameworks with the emergence of Transmedia Storytelling.

Carl Scolari’s presentation was a highly engaging session on Transmedia communication wherein he shared multiple examples of how narratives in today\’s world are liquid i.e. they flow from one type of media to another, incorporating new characters and situations, while being co-created by consumers. This, Carl argued, is leading to unprecedented creativity and is in its wake creating an opportunity for applied semiotics to develop new concepts and frameworks to add value to clients in this emerging multimedia environment.

Thus, by blending theoretical constructs, which push the boundaries of thought, with actual case studies exemplifying the power of semiotics, the conference successfully emphasized the power of applied semiotics to add a strategic perspective and the creativity to address the business problem on hand.

Going forward, suggestions which the Semiofest organizing committee may wish to consider for broad basing appeal of the event, could be the inclusion of “applied semiotic working sessions ” and the need for all presentations to be supported by actual case studies. This, we believe, will help to establish Semiofest as the true celebration of semiotic thinking!