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Keynote Speakers | ICSVC

Keynote Speakers


Prof. Kristian Bankov, PhD

Brand mythology system, or how the sacred beliefs become commercial value

In my presentation I shall share some reflections on the famous model of Brand Mythology System by Laurence Vincent (2001) where we see the semiotic mechanism of interrelation between brand agent, brand narrative and brand culture. My contribution will consist in analyzing how this system generates economic value and how the economic value is transferred from the company/brand to the goods and services and from the goods/services to the customers. In this analysis I shall be using an original approach, called “transaction semiotics” where key notions are time and temporality.

Kristian Bankov (1970) is a professor of semiotics at New Bulgarian University and Department Chair of the Southeast European Center for Semiotic Studies. His interest in semiotics dates back to the early 90s when, as a student in Bologna he attended the courses of Prof. Ugo Volli and Prof. Umberto Eco. Bankov graduated in 1995 and has since taught semiotics at NBU. In 2000 he defended a doctoral thesis at Helsinki University under the guidance of Prof. Eero Tarasti. In March 2006 he was awarded the academic title “associate professor in semiotics” and in 2011 he became full professor of semiotics. Currently Professor Bankov is the Secretary General of the International Association for Semiotic Studies. The scientific interests of Prof. Bankov were initially in the field of continental philosophy of language, philosophy of Bergson and existential semiotics. He then focused his research on sociosemiotics and issues of identity. Since 2005 he has been exploring consumer culture, while recently his interest has been directed to the new media and digital culture. Kristian Bankov is the author of four books and numerous articles in Bulgarian, English and Italian. He has been engaged in international activities and since 2006 he has been the chief organizer of the annual international Early Fall School of Semiotics (EFSS).

Southeast European Center for Semiotic Studies, New Bulgarian University
Photo credits: Pavla Alchin

Matthew Caley Hobson

explosion[s] : the global logo
20 detonations in the ‘image-repertoire’

This talk sketches out a provisional thesis that – due to heavy rotation/continual repetition through media, through coverage of continual wars and terrorist attacks, through the proliferation of the spectacular action film, the explosion has become the unofficial logo for the 21st Century – and contrasts this with the explosion of brand-signifiers and logos produced by branding. It does this through 20 episodes including reference to Jasper Johns; news’ footage, 9/11, Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point, Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, reportage photography and dominance of ‘the big loud action movie’.

Matthew Caley [Hobson] is currently a poet and Creative writing Tutor. He has published 5 poetry collections- his debut Thirst [Slow Dancer, 1999] was Nominated for The Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the latest is Rake [Bloodaxe, 2016]. His work is included in numerous anthologies including Identity Parade : New British and Irish Poets ed Roddy Lumsden [Bloodaxe, 2010]; Poems Of The Decade [The Forward Foundation 2015] and The Best British Poetry [Salt, 2013]. He has read his work at numerous festivals in the UK and abroad including Aldeburgh, Ledbury and Stanza; Paris Lit Up; Prague’s Alchemy and the International Literature Festival, Novi Sad, Serbia-twice. His work has been featured on BBC Radio 3. He has been Poet-In-Residence at The Poetry Society. He has talked on ee cummings in The Rest Is Noise Festival at The South Bank Centre, London; read at The National Portrait Gallery for The Lucien Freud Memorial Readings; at Shakespeare’s Globe,; and talked about Dystopias on Resonance Fm. He is Co-Editor – with Steven Lannin – of Pop Fiction : The Song In Cinema [Intellect Press, 2005]. He worked for many years as a Senior Lecturer in Visual Communication in practice and theory across BA, MA and Phd Supervision. He was previously part of the East Orange design partnership designing for the music industry. He is interested in ‘the triangle of image, text and sound’ and semiotics. He is on the Scientific Panel of this bi-annual conference.

The Poetry School, London.

Miltos Frangopoulos

The Myth and the Marketplace: Which Way?

Branding in our market-driven era pursues a utilitarian goal by appealing to fantasy, thus developing a narrative and mythology of its own. This paper will attempt to trace this process by revisiting the well-known work of Roland Barthes together with the somewhat neglected concept of the ‘narrative paradigm’ proposed by W.R. Fisher in the 1980s. The discussion, focusing on human branding through bodily/facial and sartorial stereotyping, will seek to examine whether branding mythology tends to cultivate a way of thinking, which seems to proliferate in our society in the early 21st century, increasingly confounding reasoned argument with story-telling, and utilitarianism with flights of fancy. No value judgement is here implied, as it is submitted that this is a crucial meeting point which, for better or worse, could be ushering in a new form of syllogism that may reboot our mental process,
or fall with it.

Miltos Frangopoulos (born Athens, 1951) is a British-educated art historian currently Deputy Director of Studies at the Vakalo Art & Design College, Athens, and Visiting Fellow in Art History at the University of Derby, UK, active in diverse fields including art and design education, art history, visual perception theory, semiotics, translation and literature. Author of An Introduction to the History and Theory of Graphic Design (2006), and The Translator’s Workshop (2004), a collection of essays on literary translation, has also published two novels (The Stone, 1986; Port Bou, 1996) and a chronicle based on family archives (Perfer et Obdura, 2013). Has written extensively on art, literature, cultural issues and semiotics in journals and collective volumes. Published translations include, inter alia, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians, Blake’s Visions of the Daughters of Albion, Khlebnikov’s Zaum-Futurist Manifestos, and Norberg-Schulz’s Genius Loci, For a Phenomenology in Architecture. Has also translated texts on psychoanalysis from the French, and language-edited the Greek version of the Vocabulaire de Psychanalyse by Laplanche and Pontalis. Has sat on the boards of the Greek Art Critics Association (AICA Hellas) and the translation journal Metafrassi. Current research interests include Concrete Poetry, postwar Greek design, and design education.

Vakalo Art & Design College, Athens, Greece

Massimo Leone

The Semiotics of Visual Imperfection

“Imperfection” is a key concept in both aesthetics and semiotics; Algirdas J. Greimas devoted a monograph to it (_De l’imperfection_, 1987), emphasizing the revelatory value of the aesthetic experience as capable to transport the subject from the appearance of imperfection to the perfection of being. Taking this elegant series of five semiotic analyses as a point of departure, the paper will seek to articulate a typology of imperfections in visual communication, arguing that each of them appeals to a different semiotic ideology and elicits, as a consequence, specific pragmatic responses

Massimo Leone (dzt. Fellow am IFK, Wien) is Professor of Semiotics, Cultural Semiotics, and Visual Semiotics at the Department of Philosophy, University of Turin, Italy. He graduated in Communication Studies from the University of Siena, and holds a DEA in History and Semiotics of Texts and Documents from Paris VII, an MPhil in Word and Image Studies from Trinity College Dublin, a PhD in Religious Studies from the Sorbonne, and a PhD in Art History from the University of Fribourg (CH). He was visiting scholar at the CNRS in Paris, at the CSIC in Madrid, Fulbright Research Visiting Professor at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, Endeavour Research Award Visiting Professor at the School of English, Performance, and Communication Studies at Monash University, Melbourne, Faculty Research Grant Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto, “Mairie de Paris” Visiting Professor at the Sorbonne, DAAD Visiting Professor at the University of Potsdam, Visiting Professor at the École Normale Supérieure of Lyon (Collegium de Lyon), Visiting Professor at the Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Munich, Visiting Professor at the University of Kyoto, Visiting Professor at the Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University, Visiting Professor at The Research Institute of the University of Bucharest, Eadington Fellow at the Center for Gaming Research, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Fellow of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg „Dynamics in the History of Religions Between Asia and Europe“ (Bochum, Germany), and Visiting Senior Professor at the Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften, Vienna. His work focuses on the role of religion in modern and contemporary cultures. Massimo Leone has single-authored seven books, _Religious Conversion and Identity: The Semiotic Analysis of Texts_ (London and New York: Routledge, 2004; 242 pp.), _Saints and Signs: A Semiotic Reading of Conversion in Early Modern Catholicism_ (Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2010; 656 pp.), _Sémiotique de l’âme_, 3 vols (Berlin et al.: Presses Académiques Francophones, 2012), _Annunciazioni: percorsi di semiotica della religione_, 2 vols (Rome: Aracne, 2014, 1000 pp.), _Spiritualità digitale: il sense religioso nell’era della smaterializzazione_ (Udine: Mimesis, 2014), _Sémiotique du fundamentalisme : messages, rhétorique, force persuasive_ (Paris: l’Harmattan, 2014; translated into Arabic in 2015), and _Signatim: Profili di semiotica della cultura_ (Rome: Aracne, 2015, 800 pp.), edited thirty collective volumes, and published more than four hundred articles in semiotics and religious studies. He has lectured in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Americas. He is the chief editor of Lexia, the Semiotic Journal of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Communication, University of Turin, Italy, and editor of the book series “I Saggi di Lexia” (Rome: Aracne) and “Semiotics of Religion” (Berlin and Boston: Walter de Gruyter). He directs the MA Program in Communication Studies at the University of Turin, Italy.

Department of Philosophy
University of Turin

Isabel Marcos

Semiotic analysis of the “Paris Rive
Gauche Brand”

Our approach aims at going deeper into the concept of “Urban Branding” by elucidating it through a morphodynamic semiotics, this approach emanated from the meeting of two theories : Greimassian semiotics and the theory of catastrophes (René Thom, 1923-2002). The morphodynamic semiotics model applied to the concept of “Urban Branding” can be resumed in the following manner: this concept presupposes the presence of a hierarchical dynamism, to be developed, according to a stratified path stretching over several morphological levels of territorial organisation. In order to present and explain certain mechanisms of this model, we have chosen three moments whereby this process of “Urban Branding” can intervene with a view to the construction of the “Paris Rive Gauche Brand-Values”:

• within the duration of our historicities and for the historical time;
• in accordance with different interlocutors of urbanity, as well as in terms of their notions of “living together”;
• in accordance with the identity of a town and its symbolic values.
The semiotics applied to the “Urban Branding process”, enables us to delimit the stages, as well as the constitutive paths of the emergence process of the signification of a project. This process aims at producing scenarios of certain forms of “living together” (spatial and social) in the minds of the consumers (deciders, investors, inhabitants). Our demonstration, will be made up of examples:
• the articulation of two historical monuments -Salpêtrière Hospital, Austerlitz train station- as ideological Brand-Values;
• the political choice of “Brand-Architects” (Jean-Nouvel and Jean-Marie Duthilleul) to think out this process of urban re-signification of “Paris Rive Gauche”;
• the “Brand-Concept” structuring of this project
“Paris Rive Gauche”.

Isabel Marcos is Senior Research fellow of CICS.NOVA – Interdisciplinary Centre of Social Sciences, FCSH at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa. She is Doctor in Semiotics (1996) at the University of Aarhus (Denmark) and Doctor in the Communication Sciences (2000) at the New University of Lisbon (Portugal). Major issues: The Speed of Signs (Ed. 2017), Espace, sémiotique et cognition (Ed. 2014); La sémiotique de l’espace-temps face à l’accélération de l’histoire (Ed. 2013), Dynamiques de la ville. Essais de sémiotique de l’espace (Ed. 2007). Author of many articles, book chapters, papers to Conferences and Guest-editor of international Journals: Degrés on Visual Semiotics and ELSA on Spatial Semiotics. Vice-President of the International Association for Visual Semiotics IAVS, Chair of the Regional European Congress of IAVS (2011). Some Research interests: Border Passions, dynamic semiotics of urban Systems; visual semiotics as a strategy for decision processes; Semiotics applied to Technological Innovations; Transdisciplinary Research; Transoceanic urbanity & Communicational urbanity.

Senior Research fellow of CICS.NOVA – Interdisciplinary Centre of Social Sciences,
FCSH at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Gregory Paschalidis

Radical Branding

Much of the recent critical literature on branding seems to take for granted that it is a practice inherently related to the powers that be – big corporations and governmental institutions. From Naomi Klein’s sharp rebuke of corporate branding for substituting good old ‘honest’ advertising for ‘collective hallucinations’, to the widespread lambasting of nation branding as state-promoted commercialization of national space and civic identities, we find the same emphasis on branding as a latter-day instrument of manipulative corporations and neoliberal governance. What this mostly ideologically motivated polemics of branding fails to consider is that branding is also widely practiced by the vast non-commercial and non-governmental sectors of non-for-profit and non-governmental organizations. Moreover, it is a long-time established practice amongst a variety of activist organizations, dissident and protest movements that are distinctly anti-corporate, counter-cultural and anti-establishment. Drawing from a range of contemporary cases of ‘protest branding’ and by contrast to a monolithic conception of branding as a tool of power – economic, political or cultural – our paper insists on approaching it as a fundamentally identity-making semiotic process which is irreducible to any single, privileged instrumentality and imbricated in the workings of the modern, mediatized public sphere, entailing a multiplicity of heterogeneous locations, agents and agendas.

Gregory Paschalidis is Professor of Cultural Studies at the Department of Journalism & Mass Communications, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) where he teaches since 1996. He graduated in Sociology from the University of Manchester and holds an MA in Sociology of Literature from the University of Essex and a Phd in Comparative Literature from the University of Jannina. He has published extensively in the fields of cultural theory and cultural policy, literary theory and narratology, mass/digital media and visual semiotics. He has authored three books and edited eight collective volumes in the fields of cultural theory, mass media and semiotics. Since 2012 he is President of the Hellenic Semiotic Society (H.S.S.), and is chief editor of Punctum-International Journal of Semiotics, the online journal published biannually by H.S.S. He directs the MA program in Digital Media, Journalism and Communication at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Journalism and Communication
University of Thessaloniki.
Gabriel Solomons

Gabriel Solomons

The Medium is the marketpace:

Fictional-brand fandom and the power of reverse product placement

While product displacement, shop-dropping and subvertising are all methods used to skewer or criticize our heavily branded world, fictional branding is often used in an effort to re-inforce the connection between the fan and the movie world created, demonstrating that even fake brands have real business potential once they become household names. This defictionalisation of imagined objects or hypothetical brands from the films in which they appear into the ‘real world’ reveal new meanings of ownership, identification and value – especially when we consider them in the context of an ever more consumer savvy landscape. What can we learn from the persuasive power of imaginary brands in a world where the boundaries between ‘fake’ and ‘real’ are becoming ever more blurred?

Gabriel Solomons is both a practicing graphic designer and senior lecturer at the Bristol School of Art & Design, UWE. Alongside working with design clients, he has been responsible for developing a number of trade and academic publications that cover areas of film, design, fandom and fashion – all of which aim to further our understanding of collaborative practice and explore the wider influence of creativity in society.
He was innovation manager and book series editor at Intellect, a UK based publisher specialising in the fields of creative practice and popular culture from 2011-2016. His projects included both editing and art directing the ‘World Film Locations’ book series that explores the relationship between the city and cinema and ‘Fan Phenomena’, a book series that decodes icons of popular culture.
He is currently editor of bi-annual film magazine Beneficial Shock!, chief editor of The Big Picture, a magazine that explores film in a wider context, and writes extensively on film, design, material culture and architecture for a range of international publications. ?
With specialism in editorial production management, contract publishing and project facilitation, Gabriel has worked with a range of clients and collaborators in both the arts and media over the past 15 years and has delivered papers, lectures and workshops on design, film and book production at various venues worldwide.
He is currently a member of the Education team and judging panel for the International Society of Typographic Designers (ISTD), Education member of Design & Art Direction (D&AD) and is an external examiner at Ravensbourne (UCL, London).

Practicing graphic designer & senior lecturer

Bristol School of Art & Design, UWE