Mediation materialized: The semiotics of a visitor book at an Israeli commemoration site

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Abstract

This article deals with visitor books as a dynamic medium of communication, and explores how material aspects of such a book - including its physical affordances and the spatial and institutional environment in which it is located - affect its capacity to create and mediate social meaning. In line with recent studies that set out to rematerialize communication and its devices, and, more specifically, to examine writing as an embodied communicative practice, it is argued that material considerations, while frequently overlooked, constitute preconditions of communication, and are organic to semiotic processes and formative in shaping them. The data analyzed are entries in, and observations on, a visitor book located in a war commemoration museum in West Jerusalem, Israel. It is demonstrated that, within the context of a national commemoration site, the visitor book proves to be a fascinating medium of inscriptive communication which is manipulated to serve as a cultural site of nationalist participation, commitment, and performance. The article draws on sensibilities from material and technological literature in order to shed light on the ways in which individuals interact with written environments and technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-195
Number of pages21
JournalCritical Studies in Media Communication
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2008

Keywords

  • Affordances
  • Commemoration
  • Materiality
  • Mediation
  • Semiotics
  • Writing

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