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Tiffany Mitchell
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I was originally writing a response to the reading, Playing the iPhone, but changed my mind when I came to Sharon Daniel and Erik Loyer’s Public Secrets. The site allows the visitor to read or listen to a transcript given by an inmate currently incarcerated in the Central California Women’s Facility. It reminded me of our previous discussions from both Language as Gameplay and Understand Comics. 


Eva, you wrote, “An interesting thing that stuck out to me when reading 'Understanding Comics' was when McCloud talked about masks (pg 34). +DJ Wilkerson, in our last Google+ discussion for 'Language as Gameplay' you suggested, "I'm not familiar with your opinions or morals, but does hearing this response in your voice, create any restrictions?  If I were to have met or heard J.R.R. Tolkien's voice, would I have liked "The Hobbit" any less if our values were not in-line with each others'?"”


When I read the lines and transcripts presented given by the women, I imagined the women in my own mind. I imagined what they looked like, their facial expressions, body language, and voices. I pictured them as sad and remorseful, beat down by the world, their choices, and the prison. And maybe they are. But when I listened to the voices, my entire perception of what I was picturing changed. Hearing their individual voices altered my original impressions and the images I had envisioned. The voices weren’t tearful or somber and I no longer imagined the inmates slumped over with a look of defeat on their face. Maybe they were just happy to be speaking to someone about their stories and conditions, happy to be humanized by someone other than a fellow inmate. Maybe that is why the tone in their voices didn’t reflect what I felt when I was reading the scripts. 

The point I’m trying to make is that reading the text alone allowed me to picture and feel a different way than when I heard the voices of the authors. I found myself to be less sympathetic (which actually surprised me, I thought I would feel more sympathy after hearing their voices and making the text more “human”). While this exact change of emotion may not be the same for everybody reading and hearing the stories, I think some change of perception is undeniable when the sense of sound is introduced. 
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Tiffany, so it's safe to say that when we read the stories, we were able to empathize and put our own voice to the words. So, maybe this is why you imagined them in this way, because this is perhaps how you would be if you were in their situation? Once we hear them and realize that they may not be speaking in a tone we would find appropriate, we realize the distinction between ourselves and the actual author/originator of the words. 
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A response to Saussure’s, “The Nature of the Linguistic Sign” from Course in General Linguistics.
 
Saussure introduces the idea that the form that a sign takes is the signifier and the concept it represents is the signified. Both the signifier and the signified are intimately linked in the mind and that each triggers one another. We begin to recognize and associate objects based on the given word and by the feelings we have tied to the object.
 
I agree with Saussure’s idea that the nature of the sign is arbitrary. If the form of a word (signifier) stood for a pre-existing concept (signified), than the concepts of words would translate from one language to another.
 
I think it’s interesting that Saussure brings up onomatopoeias as a possible objection to his principle because it is a direct link between the meaning of a word. When I think of an onomatopoeia, I think of it being used as the first part of learning language. To teach young children the name or signifier of an item, we make the sounds of that item so that the child can associate the two. The dog says “woof” the cow says “moo” etc. etc. This is how many educational toys teach word association to children who are learning language.  Remember the classic See ‘N Say toy?
 
Once we have the basic concept of what an object is called we begin to make our own associations based on our experiences with it, now becoming the signified, or the concept the object represents. At the early stages of learning language, we learn the word dog, what a dog says, what it feels like, what it looks like, how it moves, etc. and our interactions with that object and the word begin to tie in together. If you are bitten by a dog as a child, you may experience fear or anxiety when you hear the word or see the object. The word dog could signify something completely different for someone who has not had a negative experience with them. The word and object remains the same for both people, but the concept is different based on individual experiences.
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As Tiffany pointed out, "We begin to recognize and associate objects based on the given word and by the feelings we have tied to the object." While I believe that personal experiences or feelings can change the way we think of/ react to certain terms or words, it is also highly influenced and possibly shaped by how others refer to the sign (as we saw in class about the rainbow example). With each passing generation arbitrary terms begin to develop new meanings. In the 90's a "show" could have meant something that we can view on the television. Now, when one refers to the same signifier "show" it could be referencing something available on YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, or “regular” television. This may represent a more technologically determinist point of view, but obviously this thought alone is not what makes language evolve. Societies alongside their resources are what shape how signifiers are assigned. (I hope that made sense.) 
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As EMAC students, we study and learn a lot about video production and cinematic techniques (such as close ups, cut ins, focal length, etc.), so I thought McCloud’s book was an interesting change that introduces and dissects the concepts and vocabulary of comic book creation and what makes them "work". 

I am not an avid comic book reader and don’t have a lot of experience with comics, besides the newspaper comics strips as a child and a few online publications here and there (theoatmeal.com, sissybiscuit,com, xkcd.com, and booksofadam.com), so from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know a lot about the technical details of comic books, I appreciated McCloud’s simplistic explanations of the medium, principles and terminology. 

I enjoyed McCloud’s dissection of concepts, not only because it was in an easy and fun to read pictorial form, but also because it was relatable to how we view ourselves and the world around us. Like how he ties closure with faith and experience. In the comic world, a comic hinges on the arrangement of elements, which create closure, and in our world we also create closure by “mentally completing that which is incomplete based on past experience” (p.63). I think some people who are already well versed in comic book style and terminology might find this book a bit redundant, but I think for most comic book lovers and the not informed (me!), it is a creative way to analyze the art and medium. 

On a closing note, I found it interesting to come across a lot of design terminology that we use as EMAC students such as closure, iconography, and montage. I’ve personally seen them and studied these terms in user experience design, film, and photography, so it was nice to be able to translate what I’ve already studied and the examples I’ve come across (and created myself) to McCloud’s definitions and descriptions.  

Fun link: Here is an interesting comic book style in video form called Tales of Mere Existence by Lev Yilmaz. He draws all of his comics backwards!

"Procrastination" Tales Of Mere Existence
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Wait +Kim Knight, you forgot to do mine...
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Have her in circles
12 people
Dustin Flynn's profile photo
Christa Elias's profile photo
Cameron Gallucci's profile photo
Shab Asgharnia's profile photo
Matthew T Rader's profile photo
Jordan Pitts's profile photo
Samia Nasir's profile photo
Amanda Boudreaux Roser's profile photo
Morgan Shafer's profile photo
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