Words & Meaning

‘A word can only mean something, not because of what it is, but because of what it is not’.

As soon as this sentence streamed out of Adrian Miles’ mouth in this week’s symposium I was intrigued. I mean, I’ve gotten used to over-analysing every concept to the endth degree in this subject, but even still, the idea that words do not literally have meaning attached to them amazes me. Reading a word and decoding its meaning comes so easily to all of us, even now as I’m typing this sentence, I am essentially encoding meaning into these words, placing letters (coded markings) into a specific order so that someone else can come along and understand what I was thinking in the minute just gone by.

Adrian used the word ‘boy’ as an example to illustrate his point. The only reason I can draw meaning from this word, whether typed or spoken, is because it looks or sounds different from what it is not – it isn’t soy, it isn’t coy, it isn’t joy. Thus the reason ‘boy’ means a male child or youth, is through its contrast to other words. I suppose this explains that action of abstracting a word for yourself; you know when you think about a word really hard, repeating it over and over again in your head until it doesn’t make sense to you any more, it just becomes a jumble of sounds or a pattern of letters? The only way to think about that word again and make it make sense to you, is either by trying to completely forget about it or by putting it in a sentence, changing the context it’s in and essentially comparing and contrasting it to other words.

Of course the topics of ‘meaning’ and in turn ‘intention’ also stem from this idea…but that’s for another day!


Another proud moment for my friends…making me feel all gooey and happy inside.

This one’s in relation to my prior blog post ‘Talented Human Beings’, where I was sharing a video clip created by Declan Sands. Now instead, this music video features Declan and his brother’s, or Surf Dad‘s, recently released EP ‘Unholy’. I’m not sure if I’m just being biased because I know these guys or because I’m oblivious to what’s going on in the music world, but I think it’s a pretty unique and captivating concept to release an entire EP as a sequence of interconnecting short films. The director of the film, Sam Millar, is a gun in the editing suite and exhibits particular expertise with lighting techniques – this is the first of his stuff that I’ve seen since he was in high school four years ago, so fingers crossed there’s more where that came from!


The first page of this week’s entry by David Shields had me a little bamboozled. I was asking myself: what is this? how do I read it? and, well, why is it set out this way?

However, by the end I realised that Shields had purposefully written the piece in a ‘mosaic fashion’, which was in fact the main focus of the reading. I came to really like how it was arranged because even though the paragraphs/sentences were ordered (signified by the sequential numbers heading each of the segments), each part could be read and understood independently of the rest of the writing. Even though it was not ‘multilinear’ like hypertext (in fact Shields calls it ‘nonlinear’), the article still had the same sort of feel to it, as the text was fragmented into shorter ‘stand-alone’ segments.

In comparison to most of the readings for uni, this one was seemingly easier to read. Generally readings are rather long and in order to progress through the pieces you must understand the first part so that you can understand the next ones. Thus, I often find I am overwhelmed by the amount of information I have to take in and am constantly re-reading segments of the text. Shields’ ‘collage’-style of writing, although fragmented, still had a flow to it and so I finished reading the entry in quite a short amount of time, feeling like I had understood the majority of what had been said. I couldn’t help but think that this could be the future form of writing as it would gratify the short attention spans of people today.

The most interesting part of the reading for me, was that Shields talked about the concept that ‘the relationship between the parts is more important than the parts themselves’ with regards to Soviet montage filmmakers, something I had surprisingly picked up on in one of my first blog entries. He notes the similarities between mosaic, collage and montage, saying that meaning ‘is a matter of adjacent data’. In film, this idea relates to the relationship between shots because ‘meaning is not inherent in any one shot but is created by the juxtaposition of shots’. Ultimately the main question that collage/mosaic/montage artists face is that they’ve ‘found some interesting material – [now] how do [they] go about arranging it?’

Printing in the Third Dimension

My recent obsession is 3D printing; so I was delighted when the topic came up in week 6’s symposium. A question was asked as to whether technology could progress independently of art and culture – now, although I think it was a good question, I think the answer or conversation associated with it is rather unproductive: people like Raymond Williams have been arguing about technological determinism for years.

Anyhow, in the case of 3D printing, the answer would be no. There are of course conflicting ideas surrounding the concept of whether the creation of the 3D printer was a result of a societal change or need for the technology or whether it was an outcome of technological advancements (stemming from 2D printers and 3D computer imaging) independent of the outside world. However, when 3D printers did come into existence, people took them on for various reasons and from there they progressed as a result of art and culture, as well as science. A simple example would be the development of 3D colour printers. This element was added to the machine because it was needed for various forms of ‘art’. Let’s take a Nike runner… now some people might not consider a shoe a form of art, but it is still an expression of someone’s creative ideas, a shoe is still ‘design’. What happens in a lot of factories (sweatshops) today is that the ‘perfect’ Nike runner will be printed, colour and all, so that the people who are making the shoe can examine the artificial model to see if they are sewing/dying/moulding the right thing in the right way. This example shows that it was in fact the technology that responded to the needs of society, specifically that of design.

3D printers are still developing now (and have a long way to go in my mind), mostly due to the need for medical advancements. If you’re interested, take a look at this video on human ear transplants, created from 3D printers!

Sleeping in and playing Neopets

I decided I should probably try to follow a few more of my peers this week, considering that I will undoubtedly run out of people to mention in my posts if I don’t. Plus I like seeing what others have to say – even if I do end up feeling quite inadequate writing-wise afterwards.

So, I just gave Ellen and Nethaniel a follow…

I actually found Nethaniel’s post ‘Start School Later‘ through Kenton’s post ‘Week 6: What’s the word on the streets? (well blogs)‘ (which made me feel kind of proud of our cohort, I think we’re all starting to get the hang of this blogging thang, we are beginning to create our own discussions, independent of the readings and symposiums in Networked Media).

Anyhow, these posts talked about the ideas of lectures being filmed and put on blackboard so that students can watch them from the comfort of their homes, at whatever time they may want to. Although I don’t think this is the best idea for the social connections we must create to make the most of this course; I completely agree that it would be better for people’s sleeping patterns. For one, the travel to and from uni takes at least one hour out of most people’s day, which could be better used for studying (or sleeping) and most people’s energy levels do not support the 9-5 working/studying style. In fact it is common for adolescents’ energy levels to take a dive mid-afternoon, but then peak at around 7 at night. (This is also mentioned in Nethaniel’s post ‘That Nine to Five Feel‘).

I also wanted to mention Ellen’s post ‘Remember Neopets?‘, purely because I love and miss Neopets as well and will probably end up spending the next 3 hours playing ‘Ice Cream Machine’!