Category Archives: Signs/

LIBRARY SHELF: Beyond recognition

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Owens, Craig. Beyond Recognition (1992) ICI Shelf: Philosophy First Line: “If you take a modernist and draw a line and say, I dare you to cross that line, the modernist will cross it.” ICI History: Today at the ICI — … Continue reading

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EPHEMERA KABINETT: The Miner’s Paloma

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ACCESSION #: ICI-22303 TITLE: “Back Story” by Ryan Tracy and Michael Picón DESCRIPTION: A poster that uses a ‘hole’ graphic to represent the harrowing plight of the 33 Chilean miners (2010) as they wait for rescue. ICI History: Used for … Continue reading

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Changed Priorities

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Saussure tells us that no sign makes sense on its own but only in relation to other signs. The value of a sign is determined by the relationship between signs in the system as a whole. He notes the French … Continue reading

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To the Temple

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This is a nondescript sign on a back road of East Anglia, England. But to anyone who has read W. G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn, this sign might (and it does) announce the site of Alec Girrard’s model of … Continue reading

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This Could Be a Place of Historical Significance

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In 1980, Braco Dimitrijević built an engraved slab into the pavement outside the Cathedral in Cologne, Germany. This photo was taken in January of 1992. Dimitrijević’s critique of history relies not only on language, the usual fodder of sign systems, … Continue reading

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The Sign of the Masons

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The main entrance of the Great Eastern Hotel in London offers a ‘sign’ that is hidden in plain sight. Even though it was left off the hotel’s official floorplan, three bricked in windows act as a visual sign for a … Continue reading

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Flowers at Chimayo

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This permanent memorial at Chimayo, New Mexico evokes the language of the roadside shrine.  The permanence of the ceramic calla lilies is undermined by a thin sheet of cellophane wrapped around the bouquet. Its haphazard embrace borrows the language of … Continue reading

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This is Bedlam

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A small plaque on the side of the Great Eastern Hotel in London marks the site of the old Bethlehem Hospital. The sign obscures the other name for the site. As W. G. Sebald schooled us in Austerlitz, at this … Continue reading

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Max Sebald’s Signature

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  As a form of written language, the signature is, in theory, a symbolic sign. Its relationship to the person who creates it is arbitrary and based totally on convention and cultural practice. In reality, though, the signature is a … Continue reading

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The Ur-Sign: a graveyard in East Anglia

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The Greek word for ‘sign’ is sema, which is also the word for ‘grave.’ For the Greeks the grave was the ur-sign of signification for it ‘stood for’ what it ‘stood in.’ The sema points to something only present through … Continue reading

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