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'Textscapes' in the city: On the functional organization of media, perception and locatedness

Christine Domke

(TU Chemnitz)

In Semiotic Landscapes and Urban Studies recently a lot of research has been done on analyzing a city's linguistic landscape in a broader sense, including not only different semioticresources but also the "meaning making" through the text's "locatedness" and therefore communicative construction of space/place (see Jaworski/ Thurlow 2011; Papen 2012; Busse/Warnke 2014). In spite of expanding the perspective, one aspect of the public communication has been largely ignored in most of the studies done so far: a city's 'textscape' is not only visible but also audible (see Scarvaglerie et al. 2014) and perceptible in a tactile manner (Domke 2015). This links not only to the infrastructural or "empractical" (Bühler 1982; Domke 2014) discourse but also to other public discourses such as the commercial, art or private discourse. All of them are using different media practices and modes of perception for specific purposes (such as announcements, display panels, guidance systems, QR-codes, semiotic and physical barriers). However, this functional use of visible, audible and/or tactile communication does not find its way into the analytical focus so far.
The contribution aims at bridging this gap: With reference to photographs and audiotapes of public communication in Berlin and other mostly german large cities I want to discuss the interplay between a text's function, different kinds of perception (visual, auditiv, tactile) and the places used for their material "locatedness". Accordingly, this paper deals with two key issues: it aims to expand the perspective of Semiotic Landscapes (see also Pennycook/Otsuji 2015) and to interpret the multimodal differentiation being observable in a city's texts as a (socio)linguistic contribution to the discussion on the "mediatized life" (Krotz 2007).

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