November 7, 2013
After spending many graduate school hours in London investigating the nexus of popular culture and high academia, I can’t help but notice threads of dissertation-worthy topics revealing themselves daily within the walls of Fast Horse World Headquarters.
The latest revelation for me is that inside Fast Horse, we’ve got a hotbed of postmodernism flying about. You, the reader, may ask yourself, what on earth does it mean to work at a “postmodern shop?”
Fredric Jameson, an American cultural critic known for his influential writing on the theme, defines postmodern culture as cultural production born out of pre-existing cultural production. In other words, recycling previously existing content for new uses.
To illustrate, I’ll present a tangible example. When caffeine levels are waning at Fast Horse, someone inevitably circulates Dave Grohl’s “Fresh Pots” masterpiece to the company-wide alias (either in full video or distilled gif format).
Then there’s the mashup of Ken Cosgrove from “Mad Men” dancing a speed-induced jiggity-jig set against Daft Punk’s “Doing It Right” that we circulate when we want to tell someone they’re, well, “doing it right.”
But what’s happening here is more than just a way to get laughs. In short, we’re using existing cultural artifacts as new vehicles of meaning. They become semiotic memes. And as trivial as this may sound, as communicators, it’s of paramount importance that we keep our fingers on the pulse of how communicative vehicles change and evolve. This inter-referentiality is an integral characteristic of the modern mediascape and, therefore, should be at the forefront of our awareness as communicators.
Indeed, it’s satisfying to send around a gif of Dave Grohl playing drums and call it semiotic testing. But in all seriousness, these innocuous gestures belie a far more complex system of interaction that, like it or not, is a key part of how we communicate in 2013.
November 18, 2013