Spatiotemporal aspects of iconicity

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This article is part of a larger research project that aims to identify a methodical way of investigating iconicity in the immensely rich field of media, which includes art and other kinds of communication. The first part of the paper focuses on the intimate connection between sensory perception and cognition and sketches a basis for analyzing multimodal iconicity (which involves, for instance, several sensory modes or several spatiotemporal modes). The second part scrutinizes Peirce’s notions of image, diagram, and metaphor and argues that these three types of iconicity should be seen as a continuum that ranges from sensorially ‘strong’ to ‘weak’ iconicity and from cognitively ‘simple’ to ‘complex’ iconicity. The third part of the paper analyzes some examples of multimodal iconicity, with specific emphasis on spatiotemporal multimodality (for instance, spatial signs representing temporal objects, such as graphs representing population growth); earlier semiotic research has not dealt with this subject in a systematic way.


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