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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

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Volume 2015, Issue 207


Photogénie as “the Other” of the semiotics of cinema: On Yuri Lotman’s concept of “the mythological”

Kim Soo Hwan
Published Online: 2015-07-21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2015-0050


One of the most problematic concepts in film theory, photogénie, refers to the dimension of “the Other,” which is not fully covered by the process of cultural signification, and obviously verges on a zone “beyond” the semiotics. Exactly in this site Epstein, Balazs, and Barthes ought to affirm the existence of the problematic “the Other” level of signification – an autonomous entity as a potential semiotic threat. Yuri Lotman’s view on cinema, in particular, his thought on “the mythological” essence of cinema, can provide productive insight into the question: how can the semiotics of cinema deal with this elusive and ineffable phenomenon, which is extremely difficult to manipulate? His thoughts on “the mythological” as another (asemiotic) level of semiosis, and his concepts of close-up as “proper name” can give us a chance to admit positively this essential “alterity” of cinematic signification, not just denying or transcendentalizing it as some mysterious “thing-in-itself.”

Keywords: Lotman; photogénie; mythological; close up; proper name; heterogeneity


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About the article

Published Online: 2015-07-21

Published in Print: 2015-10-01

Funding: This work was supported by Hankuk University of Foreign Studies Research Fund of 2014.

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2015, Issue 207, Pages 395–409, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2015-0050.

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