Peirce’s triadic model of semiosis as a generative process highlights the open-endedness of any instance of human meaning, and this pertains to all three parts of the model. This means that throughout time, any instance of human meaning is going to have a differently shaped representamen, object, or interpretant, even if one or all three of these are relatively the same. Drawing from the second reading, Peirce writes, “The object of representation can be nothing but a representation of which the first representation is the interpretant. But an endless series of representations, each representing the one behind it, may be conceived to have an absolute object at its limit. The meaning of a representation can be nothing but a representation… So there is an infinite regression here. Finally, the interpretant is nothing but another representation to which the torth of truth is handed along; as as representation, it has its interpretant again. Lo, another infinite series.” So from any interpretant, there is an open-endedness to how this refers back to object and representamen, as well as an open-endedness to how an interpretant behaves as an object or representamen itself.
As it pertains to cultural artifacts, this is an important concept to keep in mind because of the user manipulation or interpretation of any object. It’s of particular interest to me in video media and parody. Take for instance the following parody of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” song and music video:
(a link to the video in case the video doesn’t embed properly: Mom’s Spaghetti)
Other than editing the audio to add the line “mom’s spaghetti” and adding a few clips of spaghetti, the audio and video are the same as the original. The parody draws its humor from subverting the more serious messages of bold individualism and grasping opportunity (over a dramatic riff and beat) by repetition of the line “mom’s spaghetti” which is kind of goofy by comparison. Because the line that is repeated is a feature of the original song, the parody doesn’t so much create a new meaning but magnifies one already embedded in the old one. However it is the open endedness of meaning both to the original content (through user manipulation – like physically, like my mans used audio/video editing software) and interpretation that makes creating a parody, or even envisioning one, possible.
I guess my biggest question with what I’m talking about above pertains to the actual process of manipulating cultural artifacts digitally. I mean, first of all is an audio/video clip an artifact? If it’s edited like the parody above, is it part of the same artifact or is it a completely new artifact?