Cultural Politics Article: Communicating Graphically

New article in Cultural Politics:

Communicating Graphically: Mimesis, Visual Language, and Commodification as Culture

Abstract

This article connects the evolution and formation of contemporary Internet language with its graphical underpinnings, arguing that Internet language is a form of visual knowledge production that combines and layers image and text through a contested political economy. The authors focus on the linguistic contours of graphical representation and display by providing a brief media archaeology of contemporary Internet language, upsetting its separation into generational stages, and therefore a linear progression of its history. At the same time, the authors argue that contemporary Internet language elicits a subversive operation as it layers, allowing its graphical components to exceed acts of political censorship. The authors forward this argument in an economic context as well, examining how the graphical dimensions of contemporary Internet language are both delimited by and opposed to the restrictions of communicative capitalism. Taking the cultural battle between Universal Pictures’ Minions and Pepe the Frog as their primary example, the authors argue that some forms of graphical representation and display produce an anticapitalist concept of rarity when they function linguistically, attempting to protect the cultures that produce this kind of linguistic act from commodification.

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