Pop Art and Semiotics (Roxy)

Pop art is an art movement that emerged in the mid-1950s in Britain and the late 1950s in the United States. In pop art, Material is sometimes visually removed from its known context, isolated, and combined with unrelated material. (Wikipedia) Pop art is the abbreviated version of popular art, since one of its aims is using images of popular culture in the art to narrate, parody, or to satirize.

These are examples of famous pop art.



According to C.S. Peirce, human thought is based on signs in symbol systems, each of which have a structure of material and cognitive relations. Language can be the most obvious symbol. But, actually, human beings cannot only rely on the language to express their feelings, since we are facing such a complex world. We can count on other symbols, visual symbols must be one of the popular ones. Compared with language, the components of visual symbols can be more arbitrary, creative, and abundant.

Although some linguist and philosopher, such as Susanne Langer, denied applying the laws of syntax that govern language on the analysis of articulation. I still think there exist a lot of similarities underneath the differences. I, here, use a famous Asian artist: Kusama Yayoi and her arts as an example to interperate.


u=955618547,2833888708&fm=21&gp=0The parallel constraint-based architecture of interpreting the theory of processing is used here to analyze the art work.Pretty same as the figure of linguistics, the processing of art can also be divided into three parallel structures: the spots structures, the syntactic structures, and the conceptual structures. (Jackendoff)

WechatIMG13The Spots Structures
Rather than the lexicon of linguistics, we can see clearly that Kusama Yayoi’s art works are composed by thousands of spots. They are the basic components of her art works. She, herself also mentioned that even earth is one of the millions of spots, when you finished one sport, you have already finished the universe and this world. In her art works, those spots are just like cells, or molecules, which are the origin and basis of the life.

WechatIMG15The Syntactic Structures

The combination of the spots also has its own syntax, so that to express. This syntax can also branch outward to color and size of the spots.

We can also see another obvious feature of her work, the infinite. She uses millions of spots to change the original formation of a stuff, and creates a continuing relation between this stuff and the outer space. So when facing this art work, it is hard for the audience to tell the reality and the world she created.

The Conceptual Structures

Pumpkin is one of her representative works. To Kusama Yayoi, pumpkin is an index of food. She had experienced the World War 2, pumpkins are the only food for them to survive through the famine. From then, pumpkin becomes her favorite vegetable. She sees pumpkin as the most humorous vegetables, and the flexible one as well. So in her art works, we can see the pumpkin is soft instead of having hard skin.



[1] Daniel Chandler, Semiotics: The Basics. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Routledge, 2007. Excerpts.

[2 Ray Jackendoff, Foundations of Language, selections on the “Parallel Architecture” model of language as a combinatorial system. Chap. 5.5, pp. 123-128; Chap. 7, pp. 196-200.

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About Roxy

I am a graduate student from Georgetown University. 4 years ago, I felt language ability was my highest priority. That is why after being recommended to the Xi’an Jiaotong University, I chose Bilingual as my major. I served as Project Manager of the Re-paper Project on campus, which aimed to optimize my university’s paper recycling system. We first put recycling bins for waste paper in classrooms. Then, we focused on training cleaning staff how to classify waste paper and increase their income as a payback, and cooperated with a local recycling. We also noticed that improving the environmental awareness of students can help out the administration rather than simply publicizing our project. After six months, paper recycling improved considerably on campus. At this point, I began to realize the power of communications. I, then, began an internship at the Xinhua News Agency. This institutional focus on exactitude led me to raise the standard for my own work. I translated news from all over the world and also broaden my knowledge. I consulted reports from different countries to report the objective one. I also learned to keep attention to details after finishing the road book for our photography team in Tibet. Having experienced the communication fields as an amateur, I would now like to concentrate on it.