I’m cofounder of the semiotics-fueled consultancy SEMIOVOX. Our methodology provides insight and inspiration — to brand and organization strategy, marketing, design, innovation, and consumer insights teams, as well as to their agency partners — regarding the unspoken local/global “codes” that help shape perceptions of and guide behavior within product categories and/or sociocultural territories.
During 3Q2023, our projects included (but were not limited to) the following.
- On behalf of the number-one selling brand of Champagne in the domestic French market, we consulted on the US portion of a global audit of Champagne category codes, themes, and paradigms — as surfaced through analysis of packaging, marketing, and other communications. Via our friends at the Parisian agency The Semiotic Factory.
I’m coordinator for SEMIOFEST SESSIONS, a series of online get-togethers — put on under the aegis of the Semiofest collective — intended not only to share best practices among, but to nurture collegiality and friendship within the global semio community.
Here’s the 3Q2023 SEMIOFEST SESSIONS lineup:
- JULY: READING CULTURE, featuring Mariane Cara, Josh Glenn, and Hamsini Shivakumar. Sociologists and anthropologists are recognized for their ability to identify and analyze cultural norms and forms. But when it comes to culture, semioticians are suspected of relying on analytical frameworks dating to the 1960s. Our show-and-tell session shared three new semiotics-driven methodologies developed for “reading” culture.
- SEPTEMBER: BODY SEMIOTICS, featuring Jamin Pelkey, Audrey Bartis, and Chris Martin. Recent innovations in biosemiotics and the intersection between semiotics and cognition have shown how we need to pay attention to meaning that is incarnated in our bodies. Our speakers discussed memory in our bodies (and how this affects our thoughts, behaviour and language), the representation of bodies in consumer brand imagery, and how we write meanings onto our bodies via the symbolism of tattoos.
These were our 19th and 20th sessions. Forthcoming sessions — on topics including SEMIOTICS & SCIENTIFIC METHOD, ANALYZING THE UN-ANALYZABLE, and SEMIOTIC ETHICS — have been scheduled through the end of the year. We’re now planning our 2024 sessions, too.
This semester, I’m co-teaching two sections of GRADUATE THESIS MAPPING & NARRATIVE I in the Rhode Island School of Design’s MID (Master of Industrial Design) program. Fun! Here’s my RISD faculty page.
I’m the editor here at SEMIOVOX, our consultancy’s eponymous website. Here’s what we published during 3Q2023.
MAKING SENSE WITH… is a series of Q&As dedicated to understanding what makes semioticians tick. I’ve asked my commercial-semiotics colleagues from around the world to answer a set of leading questions. Here’s the 3Q2023 lineup:
SERDAR PAKTIN (Turkey / England) | TIM SPENCER (England) | DORA JURD DE GIRANCOURT (France) | IVÁN ISLAS (Mexico) | NATASHA DELLISTON (England) | CHIRAG MEDIRATTA (India / Canada) | CHRIS BARNHAM (England) | GEMMA JONES (Netherlands) | LOUISE JOLLY (England).
Coming up in 4Q2023:
GIULIA CERIANI (Italy) | MAX MATUS (Mexico) | CLIO MEURER (Brazil) | SEEMA KHANWALKAR (India) | ROMÁN ESQUEDA (Mexico) | AIYANA GUNJAN (India) | & more.
COLOR CODEX is a 25-part series — the contributors to which are commercial semioticians from around the world — that explores the unexpected associations evoked for us by specific colors found in the material world. Here’s the 3Q2023 lineup:
Rachel Lawes (England) on DEVIL GREEN | Greg Rowland (England) on LAUNDROMAT FUTURA | Josh Glenn (USA) on TOLKIEN GREEN | Vijay Parthasarathy (USA) on ALPHONSO YELLOW | Sarah Johnson (Canada) on ARMY GREEN | Alfredo Troncoso (Mexico) on BORGES GLAUQUE | Clio Meurer (France) on PARIS LUMINOUS GREY | Chirag Mediratta (Canada / India) on AUROVILLE ORANGE | Natasha Delliston (England) on MARRAKESH MINT.
Coming up in 4Q2023:
Tim Spencer (England) on ELECTRO-EROTIC COBALT | William Liu (China) on PINING GREEN | Audrey Bartis (France) on KYOTO MOSS | & more.
SEMIOVOX continues to offer glimpses into various audits we’ve done via installments in the long-running series CODE-X. Series installments from 3Q2023 include:
ADVENTURE (TABLE STAKES): We’re With You | Crucial Catalyst | Rallying Cry | Squad Goals | A Dog’s Life | Product = You. TEST YOURSELF: Making a Splash | Winning a Prize | Peak Experience | Keep Pushing | Dirt Don’t Hurt | All-Weather | Taking Flight | Living on the Edge | Rest & Recharge | & more.
We’re currently assigning for DECODER, a new series — the contributors to which will be commercial semioticians from around the world — analyzing semiotics-esque action in our favorite books, movies, etc. The DECODER lineup thus far includes:
Adelina Vaca (Mexico) on ARRIVAL | Jamin Pelkey (Canada) on THE WONDER | Rachel Lawes (England) on NICE WORK | Maciej Biedziński (Poland) on COSMOS | Ramona Lyons (USA) on BABYLON-17 | Alfredo Troncoso (Mexico) on THE ODYSSEY | Charles Leech (Canada) on PATTERN RECOGNITION | Tim Spencer (England) on VURT | Gabriela Pedranti (Spain) on MUSIC BOX | & more.
MIT PRESS: RADIUM AGE
I’m the founding editor of the MIT Press’s RADIUM AGE proto-sf reissue series. During 3Q2023, we published three new titles:
- G.K. Chesterton’s THE NAPOLEON OF NOTTING HILL (1904), with a new introduction by Madeline Ashby. “Unquestionably a satirical masterpiece.” — Los Angeles Review of Books. See this title at the MIT Press website.
- MORE VOICES FROM THE RADIUM AGE, edited and introduced by Joshua Glenn. Proto-sf stories by Algernon Blackwood, Valery Bryusov, A. Merritt, E. Nesbit, May Sinclair, and others. “These stories are sharp and relevant, addressing issues including climate change, women’s equality, advanced technologies, parallel universes, and dystopian societies.” — Foreword. See this title at the MIT Press website.
- William Hope Hodgson’s THE NIGHT LAND (1912), with a new introduction by Erik Davis. “Hodgson was clearly an inspiration for generations of writers such as H. P. Lovecraft, who learned a thing or two about hideous monsters from texts like this one.” — Los Angeles Review of Books. See this title at the MIT Press website.
The RADIUM AGE series received some nice publicity during 3Q2023, with reviews and write-ups in the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Boston Globe, and elsewhere; and I was interviewed about the series by Clarkesworld and Foreword.
I also worked with the MIT Press team to send our Spring 2024 titles to press: THE INHUMANS AND OTHER STORIES: A SELECTION OF BENGALI SCIENCE FICTION (March 12, edited and translated by Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay) and Charlotte Haldane’s MAN’S WORLD (March 12, introduced by Philippa Levine).
HILOBROW is SEMIOVOX’s sister website….
During 3Q2023, at HILOBROW, I contributed several installments to MOUSE, a serialized diachronic analysis of what (and how) the mouse meant to 20th-century US pop culture. Here’s the lineup:
This series grew out of my involvement in Jeff Malmberg’s documentary The Story of a Mouse, which aired on Disney+ in 2022.
SEMIOPUNK is a new series dedicated to surfacing examples (and predecessors) of the sf subgenre that HILOBROW was the first to name “semiopunk.” The 3Q2023 lineup includes:
At the invitation of series editor Nick Rombes, I contributed an installment on Three Days of the Condor to the MINUTE 9 series at the “irreverently highbrow” online literary journal 3:AM.
In late July, The Boston Globe‘s IDEAS section devoted a full page to running excerpts from three stories collected in More Voices from the Radium Age (MIT Press, August 1), along with a few contextualizing remarks on each story from yours truly.
In August , LitHub published a version of my introduction to More Voices from the Radium Age.