Dr. Aleksandra Lukaszewicz Alcaraz

Academy of Art in Szczecin, Poland
Iconic Language(s) – a New Lingua Franca or Incompatible Dictionaries? On Visual Communication in Perspective of Pragmatism

The growing dominance of visual communication in contemporary culture is indisputable. It is present in public and private spheres, informing us about events taking place all over the world, seducing us to buy certain products following specific media images, allowing us to communicate emotion and moods, managing forms of our mobility in urban spaces, influencing the ways in which we experience the urban environment where we live our lives and the ways we identify ourselves as social subjects. Concluding that we live in times of the “iconic turn” as presented by Wi. J. T. Mitchell seems accurate. Of course, we may also agree, as Mitchell does, that it is not the first “iconic turn” in our history, but nevertheless it is essential for us today to analyse and understand our times.

In linguistic communication we can hardly find a common core that may be found in all laguages. Even the generative grammar of N. Chomsky does not respond to this, showing rather formal characteristics of language as such. I agree here with R. Rorty that different sets of norms, rules, and concepts in different languages are very often incompatible, impossible to directly translate and understand, because of being based on different wordviews. The advised way of dealing with that situation, according to Rorty, is the push to enlarge our language and community by including others. This move is done by Rorty from the point of view of liberal democracy and he openly accepts that this view is ethnocentrically biased.

Then, recognizing pragmatism as a useful tool in the theoretical approach to various social and cultural issues, I ask if visual communication can be considered as divided into different national, ethnic, and/or cultural groups that are incompatible, or if we may rather anticipate that it will guide us to some form of universal communication on a global scale?