Semiotic School



Space is a phenomenon with which we continuously interact in various ways. We are surrounded by space simply by being on the planet, in the city, between buildings, or inside of one as well as in a forest or on the seaside. As Merleau-Ponty observes, we provide the point of origin for our perception of depth and recognize that space not only radiates outward from us frontally but also surrounds us completely. The term “space” can also be used metaphorically, philosophically, psychologically or from a geometrical point of view.

As a phenomenologist, Bachelard sees our being as defined by our experience of the world. “For the whole of its existence, the individual is surrounded by matter, of which space is one important part. Our experience of that matter shapes our very being.”

Space is a term used to describe dimensional aspects existing between each other. We may talk about social space, space in music or musical space, verbal spaces, cultural space, symbolic space, virtual space, architectural space, urban space, performance space, space in films, television space and camera spaces.

Cinema constructs spaces in the mind, creates mind-spaces, the mental task of buildings and cities is to structure our being-in-the-world and to articulate the surface between the experiencing of self and the world. Distance between objects whose meanings depends on spatial relations constitutes social space,  silence is the space in music, or musical space where performances take place, space for lettering is the paper where I write my words. In short space is the background to a priori perception of the world. Since as adults we are living in virtual spaces as well as physical ones during the day with our computers, children are living in their virtual spaces with their games.

Since semiotics is the disciplined study of the life of signs that ‘stand for or represent’ something, space is generally overlooked as the background to other objects of attention. We inhabit spaces of meaning and semiotics provides a systemic way to analyze and understand the characteristics of signs expressing meaning. Different human practices create and make use of different conceptualizations of space. The study of space as a semiotic phenomenon suggests that the meaning of space, as a sign, will be acting as a background for analyzing meanings.

The 5 ETCS credit course on “semiotics and space” has been constituted from lectures and workshops related to those varying themes.

Students have to choose their courses related to their interests to fulfill the required credit from the list mentioned below.

Coursework will be evaluated on the basis of an essay of around 3000 words, related to the student’s area of interest as covered by lecture topics.




1. Space, time and subject: Foundations of Paris school of semiotics. From formalism to structuralism, Kandinsky, Lévi-Strauss, Greimas

Professor  Eero TARASTI

2. Transendental Analysis of Culture and Arts: From poststructuralism to neosemiotics

Professor Eero TARASTI

Lectures try to give an overview of existential semiotics as a new paradigm of semiotic research. They will show its origin in the existential philosophy from Hegel, Kant and Kierkegaard to Jaspers, Heidegger,  Arendt, Sartre and de Beauvoir, on one hand, and in the European semiotics, like in A.J.Greimas and others. The notions of modalities, transcendence, ideologies, values, postcolonial studies,  resistance, genre, representation, Dasein etc. will be discussed. They will be applied to various cases of culture and arts.

3- "Inventing Space: the citizen as Everyday Architect"

Professor Massimo LEONE 

Since Michel de Certeau's seminal study on pedestrian urban enunciations in The Invention of Everyday Life, semiotics has never ceased to deal with the issue of the impact of individual creativity on the systems of signs that compose the significations of urban life. Read through the metaphor of the text, the city kept prompting the question of its authorship: whose is the intentionality behind the forms and the forces that substantiate urban life? The seminar is going to tackle this field of reflection from the point of view of the contemporary semiotics of architecture: is it possible to argue that, under certain circumstances, citizens become the everyday architects of the city, engaged in a quotidian making and remaking, writing and re-writing, not only of its imaginaire, but also of its structure? In particular, what is the impact of the new digital "smart" and network technologies on the distribution and agency of architectural intentionality?

4- Notating Imagination: Reframing and Reconstructing Reality 

Professor Dr. Farouk Y.Seif

Human beings need to take “reality” out of the domain of “absolute truth.” Reality can be reframed and recreated teleologically. In order to reframe reality, it is necessary to make a distinction between what is “true” and what is “real.” Therefore, the intention of this seminar/workshop is to introduce the concept of notating imagination as a way to reframe current reality and construct a desired future reality.Notations as signs mediate between several sets of concepts, traditions, and approaches. The inclusive quality of notating imagination expands cognitive understanding and visceral awareness, and offers a basis for a comprehensive communication system beyond cultural traditions and the boundary of space and time. Through a conceptualization process, participants will be able to develop a deep understanding of how to transform reality and be able to communicate their ideas to others, uncovering the primordial wisdom of balancing change and continuity.

5- The Semiotic and Second-Order Cybernetics Concepts Applied in Negotiations and Decision-Making. An Information Theory Approach

Professor Niculae Mihaitu   

In this lecture, interstitial methodologies are applied and the obtained results are very promising for analyzing any kind of communication, narrated or antenarrated that has a form of a conversation and make Information Theory useful in dealing with negotiation and conversation analysis. It is used to map out systematised opinions or real life situations, reports, other marketing management documents and decision making. Just to see what outcomes one gets. The paper engages in highlighting analogies between second order cybernetics and Pierce’s semiotics concepts over the management techniques by practicing quantitative methods under the umbrella of Information Theory. Imagine this lecture as a theatre plays with the possibility being left with everything in vague appropriate. The situation could be like to two performers on a stage, management actions as negotiation applied (analytically) on one side and the structure of the YOYO system (holistic) on the other side. There is a dialogue to be sure, but the substance of their lines leaves us wondering about their relationship. It is after all the essence of the Play. But “what” or “how” this is? Many answers could be done by combining concepts and knowledge given by semioticians, cyberneticians, academics and practitioners.  

Purpose: To find at least one answer at the question: is Semitics and Second-Order Cybernetics  and/or Information Theory needed for decision making looking for consensus (agreement, accord, harmony, compromise, consent)? It is used a new approach by applying Information Theory, cybernetics and semiotics paradigms and concepts. The first part of this lecture shows that the uncertainties created by the mystery of the decision-making depends by the doubts created by those chosen among Shannon’s Entropy whom is added to the suspicions created about this kind of approach conditioned by those of quantitative measurements as Satisfaction indexes.

Methodology approach in the second part of the lecture: Quantitative analysis starting with simple Arithmetic and discussion concerning Advanced Statistics Techniques and Portfolio 

Theory from Finance, in order to develop a quest for finding strong, hidden, illusory and spurious relationships which reveals meaning or chaos, reduced uncertainty and increased ambiguity. In cybernetics terms, our attempt emphasizes the relevance of the second-order cybernetics in one surprising application on negotiation and decision-making.  

Findings: A new approach used to obtain either complete or generalized synoptic ideograms. Several simulations or scenarios carried out to illustrate how the methods’ combination clarifies the „black box” of understanding complex processes in decision-making. What follows is one answer of this whitening „black box”.  

Practical implications: By synthesizing enactive-thinking in virtual space and practice of communicating we appeal for valuable insights into the creative mind, challenging scholars and practitioners alike.

Originality: Practical emergence of Cybernetics in Semiotics  

Keywords: Science 2, Second-order Cybernetics, Semiotics, Information Theory

6- Space and Graveyards 

Prof. Dr. Aysu Erden

Textual production and reception are considered to be part of context, situation and space. And the reader understands a text by processing its meaning. The rhetorical nature of utterances in a text is impossible to be established only by referring to certain sets of linguistic elements. The aspects of grammatical style are connected with the content of the text, the writer's purposes in writing and with space. In other words, sentence structure and context structure are parallel to each other,  "the medium of expression and space affect the style of a text", and the style is shaped and stimulated by the medium used by the writer. For example, “postcards, inscriptions on rings or gravestones, headlines or slogans affect style because of the limited physical space they allow.” Gravestone texts are a means of communication between those who grieve deeply because of the death of a person affectionately known to them and the strangers who visit the cemetery. In the production of such texts, feelings are  given poetic forms. Thus, they "cannot be interpreted by a direct application of conventional logic since they are expressive of some elusive reality outside the confines of what is conventional." They also seem to possess certain features of poetry in general. There seem to be certain types of features which are common to the gravestone verses, to the situation and to poetry: the fashioning of thought and language to capture the elusive sense of reality in different dimension, the paradoxical expression of what cannot be expressed,  verbal echoing, and space. The aim of the writers of the gravestone inscriptions is to produce feelings of questioning and awareness of life, death, afterlife and eternity. In fact they want to share such feelings which they themselves have already experienced. There are a number of different kinds of patterning in the sentence structures of these texts such as the use of: optative, future, present or progressive tenses, conditionals, and imperatives; content words and participles; rhyme and metaphors; verse or prose form; compound or complex sentences, and “Yes – no” questions. Since there is a limited space for the texts on the gravestones, the sentences consist of mostly content words and a few function words. Thus, the lexical contents of the sentences give the reader the necessary background information about the deceased, his family life, his environment, the cause of his death, his educational, social and psychological background and his relationships with the outside world. This is achieved by means of the denotations and connotations that each word has. The reader deciphers the language items as they occur in a sequence in the discourse of the tombstone text. On the basis of such evidence in the text, he makes deductions, inductions and inferences as he reads.

7- Workshop/Following The Memory; Spatial Reality and Symbols

Assist Prof. Dr. Mesut Çelik 

Real remains, reality changes... Perceived reality; creates a new reality in every new expression. The transformation of the mental reflections - the objective reality into the subjective new reality; is only possible when the latent becomes explicit. When latent sensations evolve to images, images evolve to symbols, the real becomes changed. So, what is reality? The existing one, the remembered one, the perceived one, or the transferred one?

8-The Japanese Sense of Space

Dr. İbrahim Soner Özdemir

The Japanese conception of space is often characterized by the non-dualism between such polarities as space and time, subjective and objective, form and emptiness, body and mind, action and intuition, inside and outside, nature and culture, individual and society. By following some of the major theories of spatiality in Japanese culture, the lecture aims to examine different aspects of this non-dualism through examples ranging from the arts and architecture to language and the signs of everyday life.

9- The Space of Fashion

Jose Maria Paz Gago

10- Signs and Space

Res. Assist. İrem Kahyaoğlu

Res. Assist. Berna Küçük

In the workshop our participants will try to tell a story by using 5 different papers (size50x35) with the help of pictograms that are given to them. Expression will include the sings of the “space” where story happens as The Eiffel Tower, Bosphorus, The Empire State Building etc.

Participants can diversify objects that they are using in their story by fragmenting and combining pictograms. In the image below, you can see a dog, which gets into panic because of a cigarette thrown to its fur. The stand on ended hair of the dog is described by using “key pictogram”. Also a similar pictogram is used to describe the teeth of the dog.


By this imaginative narrative process, our aim is to provide participants to add visual representation of the spaces in the story. Thus, they will bring us to the story and these spaces by using visuals signs.




Registration Fee


 Participant Fee


Until June 30, 2013


After June 30, 2013

Semiotic School