Jason Wallin


Our contemporary social landscape is increasingly inscribed and articulated through images. With the proliferation of televisual mediums, the image has become the primary vehicle mediating social relationships, impinging on our experience of both self and other (Debord, 1978). As Virilio (2002) avers, the drive of capitalism seeks to appropriate the imagistic code as a bid for mastery over the symbolic order. In this manner, the media/ted images that flood the social terrain are often cites of ideological del sign. In other words, signs are often ideologically 'stabilized' as connotations of other signs, forming an abstract, positive calculus of signification. In this vein, images are never 'of themselves,' but of an ambient/ diffuse order. Particularly in designer capitalism, ambient signification is deployed as a way to disclose much more than the product 'itself'. As Barthes (1996) demonstrates in Mythologies, signs function as networks of signification. Contemporary media orchestrates the arrangement of such sign systems as a way to evoke consumer desire by (pr)offering a 'lost object/ - an objet a. As a cite of desire, the lost object is no longer inscribed under the guise of a consumer need, but rather, as the consumer imperative to "Enjoy!" Yet, implicit to the obligation of consumer enjoyment is a caveat. That which we have been sanctioned to enjoy as consumers is liable to disorienting slippage.


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