Josh Update

SEMIOVOX 1Q2024

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AI-assisted illustration by SEMIOVOX

I’m cofounder of the semiotics-fueled branding consultancy SEMIOVOX, editor of the consultancy’s eponymous website, and I’m the “convenor” of SEMIOFEST SESSIONS. Here’s a round-up of what we’ve been doing for the past three months…

Also see: SEMIOVOX 2022 | SEMIOVOX 2023.

SEMIOTIC ANALYSIS

SEMIOVOX’s 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 1Q2024, our projects included (but were not limited to) the following.

  • BRITISHNESS CODES. Via the UK strategic insight agency Craft, we analyzed codes of British-ness — as surfaced from recent British TV serials and movies, many hours of which we enjoyed viewing in January and February. (It was fun to collaborate with our US-based colleague Ramona Lyons on this one.) Content-creation and marketing optimization.
Chi Forest Milk Tea commercial (China); not the client
  • MULTISENSORIAL CODES. On behalf of a multinational beverage company, we analyzed codes of multisensorial experience — covering multiple categories — in six markets including China, India, and Mexico. A combination of semiotic analysis and consumer research (which we conducted via our sister agency, Consumer Eyes). Marketing optimization across all channels, including pack design. (Continued from 2023.)

SEMIOFEST SESSIONS

I’m cofounder of and “convenor” for  SEMIOFEST SESSIONS , a monthly-ish series of online get-togethers — put on under the aegis of Semiofest — intended not only to share best practices among, but to nurture collegiality and friendship within the global semio community. Here’s the 1Q2024 lineup:

  • JANUARY: SEMIOTICS & CINEMA. Semioticians have long been fascinated with cinema. From Barthes’ analysis of “Roman-ness” in Hollywood epics to commercial semioticians’ deployment of movie scenes to help clients understand aspects of contemporary culture, we can’t stop decoding what materializes on the silver screen. Ramona Lyons, Gabriela Pedranti, and Adelina Vaca shared their enthusiasm for movies — and for movie analysis.
  • FEBRUARY: SEMIOTICS & MUSIC. In practical visual semiotics we generally first identify a denotation and then seek to identify and understand its connotation. Musical semiotics, however, is the opposite: it’s easy, even intuitive, to identify a musical connotation, but then trying to identify the denotative level is very difficult. Charles Leech, Mariane Cara, and William Liu discussed such questions as: How are we to understand how music communicates? How might synesthesia play into it?
  • MARCH: SEMIOTICS & ETHICS. Three applied semioticians explored the rarely discussed ethical implications of semiotics work — especially in the context of sustainability, health, and the impact of technology on information manipulation. Drawing on their own experiences, our guests (Yogi Hendlin, Max Matus, Clio Meurer; Lucia Laurent-Neva hosted) covered topics such as diversity, identity representations, biosemiotics, mental health, and the broader ethical landscape of contemporary society.

We’re planning sessions for April and June. In May we’ll take a break, because many of us will be convening at Semiofest Porto.

SEMIOVOX.COM

I’m the editor here at SEMIOVOX, our consultancy’s eponymous website. Here’s what we published during 1Q2024.

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 1Q2024 lineup:

ANDREA BASUNTI (England) | HANNAH HOEL (New Zealand) | MARIANE CARA (Brazil) | CARLOS SCOLARI (Spain) | STEFANIA GOGNA (Italy) | ADELINA VACA (Mexico) | COCO WU (Singapore / China) | JAMIN PELKEY (Canada) | ANTJE WEISSENBORN (Germany).

Coming up in 2Q2024:

BECKS COLLINS (England) | CHRISTO KAFTANDJIEV (Bulgaria) | KISHORE BUDHA (England) | ELINOR LIFSHITZ (Israel) | GAËLLE PINEDA (France) | PANOS DIMITROPOULOS (China) | PETER GLASSEN (Switzerland) | & more.

DECODER is a 25-part series — the contributors to which are commercial semioticians from around the world — that explores fictional semiotician-esque action as depicted in books, movies, TV shows, etc. Here’s the 1Q2024 lineup:

Alfredo Troncoso (Mexico) on THE ODYSSEY | Gabriela Pedranti (Spain) on MUSIC BOX | Charles Leech (Canada) on PATTERN RECOGNITION | Lucia Laurent-Neva (England) on LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY | Whitney Dunlap-Fowler (USA) on THE GIVER | Colette Sensier (England / Portugal) on PRIESTDADDY | Jamin Pelkey (Canada) on THE WONDER | Maciej Biedziński (Poland) on KOSMOS | Josh Glenn (USA) on LE GARAGE HERMÉTIQUE.

Coming up in 2Q2024:

Antje Weißenborn (Germany) on BABYLON BERLIN | Ximena Tobi (Argentina) on SIX FEET UNDER | Mariane Cara (Brazil) on ROPE | Maria Papanthymou (Greece) on MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS | Chirag Mediratta (India) on BLEACH | Dimitar Trendafilov (Bulgaria) on THE MATRIX | Martha Arango (Sweden) on ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE | & more.

British-ness code: CANNY CIRCUMSPECTION

SEMIOVOX continues to offer glimpses into various audits we’ve done via installments in the long-running series CODE-X. Series installments from 1Q2024 include:

BRITISH-NESS: CRUEL COMPETENCE | CANNY CIRCUMSPECTION | IRONIC AESTHETICISM | POINTED ABSURDISM | COSMOPOLITAN PERSPECTIVE | ECCENTRIC CHIC | DISRUPTIVE TECH. WHOLESOMENESS (MILK): FAMILY NURTURE | RURAL RED | NATURE’S BOUNTY | FARMERS AT WORK | ONE RIGHT WAY | HONEST WORK | HAPPY COW. RISE & GRIND (COFFEE): WAY OF LIFE | RUNNING LATE | RECHARGE | HARD WORK | & more.

Also see: SEMIOVOX updates from 20222023.

MIT PRESS: RADIUM AGE

I’m the founding editor of the MIT Press’s RADIUM AGE proto-sf reissue series. During 1Q2024, we published the following Spring 2024 titles.

  • THE INHUMANS AND OTHER STORIES: A SELECTION OF BENGALI SCIENCE FICTION, edited and translated by Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay. The first English translation of a cult science fiction favorite by Hemendra Kumar Roy, one of the giants of early Bangla literature, and other sf stories from the colonial period in India. “This anthology of Bengali science fiction captures the timelessness of human speculation.” — S. B. Divya, Hugo- and Nebula-nominated author of Machinehood. View this title.
  • Charlotte Haldane’s MAN’S WORLD, introduced by Philippa Levine. In a eugenics-driven future society, will one young woman’s defiance make a difference? “A volatile admixture of feminist revelations with racially biased eugenic theorizing, nearly a century after its first publication Man’s World offers unique insight into its historical moment — and our own.” — Alexandra Minna Stern, Professor of English, History, and in the Institute for Society and Genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles; and founder and co-director of the Sterilization and Social Justice Lab. View this title.

These were the 13th and 14th titles we’ve published. During 1Q2024, I worked with the MIT Press team to finalize our two Fall 2024 titles, and move our four 2025 titles into production. I also pitched four titles for 2026 to the editorial board….

More RADIUM AGE series updates: 2022 | 2023 | 1Q2024.

HILOBROW

HILOBROW is SEMIOVOX’s sister website. Here are a few semio- and cultural analysis-related series and posts from 1Q2024.

Remedios Varo’s “Phenomenon of Weightlessness” (1963)

I’ve continued to add new installments in SCHEMATIZING, a series via which I’m attempting to depict the intellectual and emotional highs and lows of developing a semiotic schema.

SEMIOPUNK is an irregular series dedicated to surfacing examples (and predecessors) of the sf subgenre that HILOBROW was the first to name “semiopunk.” Here’s a sampling of the 4Q2023 lineup:

THE SOFT MACHINE | SOLARIS | CAMP CONCENTRATION | CAT’S CRADLE | FRIDAY | BABEL-17.

More HILOBROW updates: 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 20212022 | 2023 | 1Q2024.


On to 2Q2024…

Tags: Josh Glenn, Semiovox