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Thursday, 8 December 2011


Click and check this out.

This is flip book site of an assignment given to my students for the class "Cross-cultural Design". I employ a cultural studies approach in engaging with the notion of 'cross-cultural design'. Here, students reflect upon their own living experiences in engaging with brands around them. Their reflections collectively provide interesting textual materials (in a semiotic sense) that can be taken as a form of 'visual language and discourse' on the influence of brands in the living experiences of our youth. 

The visual discourse can then be analyzed to unveil certain patterns pertaining to how our youth give and create meanings through brands. 

Their way of life has been partly (if not significantly) conditioned and cultured by brands.

Perhaps we can do the same in analyzing the written discourses in fb comments on certain topics. 

Discourses are ways in which a particular language is used (or in some cases, regulated) to create meanings for a particular subject(and objects). Language here includes visual language. 

Here, the premise is that language (in many different forms, including visual) and the way it is used (in a discourse) by its users, create meanings. Active users may dominate and regulate meanings. Meanings here, are not stable, unless they are institutionally regulated such as in the army, or police unit, or even political parties, or certain groups of scholars,  etc. 

We can experience this as we move and engage in a discourse with different groups or types of people, including in fb groups. Different group of language users feature different ways of regulating the use of language (including visuals, such as those generated in the various fields of visual art, graphic, web design, blog design,fashion, textile, product, architecture, interior design, and many more).

In the case of brands, meanings are constructed and regulated by those with large capitals, such as big corporations/brands for examples. It is called, developing consensus and taste. These meanings are not natural at all, but created, constructed, regulated, dominated, sustained and controlled by such corporations (mostly through offline medium).

Those working in the advertising field, including those involved in developing brands, managing public opinions and perceptions (sometimes through deceptions), those working with a political party or a leader in spinning news or events (to work for their political masters), those working in planting communication strategies for a country (USA for example), know very well how to create, regulate, dominate, sustain and control discourses, thus meanings related to so many dimensions of our life, including cultural dimension.

All these work very well in sustaining 'egos' (false sense of self) to feed mostly economic or commercial ends. 

Where will all of us or humanity at large be heading to in this whole scheme of language and discourse, including all the 'brands' that are inhibiting our life? 

Are we living, or are we living the brands?

What brands are we identifying our false sense of self with? (be them social, political, ideological, philosophical, economic, cultural, educational, technological, etc)?

For more information on language and discourse, and its relation with 'power'  check out my April entry entitled "Amende Kajian Budaya ni?". 

But be warned, its very very very long, and in Bahasa Melayu.