Into the Evening. And the Whole World Stops

While filming on-site, I was often approached by curious walkers expressing their surprise and disbelief that standing still herons were real. Ever since, I have been pondering that notion of reality and how our minds make meaning and sense of the world we live in. Given my background in linguistics (both education and work), I find it natural to look to language, in particular semiotics, for that meaning.

As Ferdinand De Saussure, a Swiss linguist, once pointed out, "nearly all institutions, it might be said, are based on signs, but these signs do not evoke things directly."* Saussure saw language as system of signs and he strongly believed that understanding how the system worked might lead us to how meaning is formed. And the meaning in linguistic terms, is always based on relations between the signifier and the signified: the two fundamental elements that make up a sign. The signs themselves constitute one of the three main areas in semiotics. The other two are the way the signs are organized into systems and the context in which they appear.

Charles Sanders Peirce, an American philosopher, scientist and logician, pushed the concept of language and signs even further. However, unlike Saussure, Peirce showed a particular interest in the part that the reader plays in the process of forming meaning. He claimed that signs are filtered through each individual's perceptive capacity. Indeed, the meaning of the sign is never fixed. Its meaning can vary depending on the reader of the sign and their cultural experience of it.

 

INTO THE EVENING is the third video landscape from the series And the Whole World Stops.

*Saussure, Ferdinand de. Course in General Linguistics. New York: Philosophical Library, 1959. Print.

Excerpt from the publication, And the Whole World Stops.