Visual semiotics and automatic analysis of images from the Cultural Analytics Lab: How can quantitative and qualitative analysis be combined?

and Maria Giulia DonderoORCID iD:


In this article we explore the relationship between semiotic analysis of images and quantitative analysis of vast image corpora, in particular the work produced by Lev Manovich and the Cultural Analytics Lab, called “Media Visualization.” Media Visualization has been chosen as corpus because of its metavisual operation (images are visualized and analyzed by images) and its innovating way of conceiving analysis: by visual instruments. In this paper semiotics is used as an approach to Media Visualization and taken as an object of study as well, especially visual semiotics. In this sense, a comparison between visual semiotics (close reading of small corpora) and quantitative analyses of images (distant reading of vast collections) are conducted from a semiotic point of view. Post-Greimassian semiotics guides this study with respect to the issue of the image-within-an-image and metavisual visualization; Peircean semiotics is employed to explain and develop the notion of diagram.

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The official journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies, founded in 1969 as one of the first scholarly journals in the field, Semiotica features articles reporting results of research in all branches of semiotic studies, in-depth reviews of selected current literature in the field, and occasional guest editorials and reports. The journal also publishes occasional Special Issues devoted to topics of particular interest.