The Semiotics of Speed, Time-Space Compression

from You Saw Nothing: Sight, Digital Video, Post-3.11 Japan


This establishment of the semiotics of speed is grounded in the premise of digital video as an aesthetic embodiment of time–space compression. Time–space compression is a concept based on Karl Marx’s idea of the annihilation of space by time. The use of the term in this thesis is based on the economic context that conceptualises the necessity of compressing space by time by means of the technology of transportation and communication for the sake of faster accumulation and turnover.* The semiotics of speed is, hence, the coalescence of the economic concept of time–space compression into the aesthetics of digital video in an examination of the apotheosis of growth. Speed signifies the drive for acceleration, accumulation, advancement, development, and growth. The linearity of speed is velocity, which is the forward movement of digital video in the aesthetic coalescence in the semiotics of speed. Chapters 1 and 2 provide detailed examinations of speed as an identification of the nation and examine each of its variations.

Digital video is itself also an embodiment of time–space compression. Online video conferencing software and applications have provided us with a normative mode of communication and have compressed space by the speed that information technology embodies. Mobile devices are an indispensable part of the embodiment, allowing us access to information, talking, and sharing of photographs and video with mobility and at a distance. This technology has compressed the space that exists within the family and business, increased speed, and shortened distance. The use of digital video in chapters 1 and 2 is grounded in this wider social context of digital video as information and communications technology (ICT) that has prevailed in our lives, and furthermore in chapter 3 is especially grounded in the currency of the smart phone.


* Time–space compression is also a general concept used in transportation and communication technology. Marxist geographer David Harvey developed a geographical reading of Capital by Karl Marx.
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