What is intertextuality?
Today as part of our Media Discourses seminar we discussed intertextuality and exactly what it is and how it affects our practices. So what is intertextuality?
Intertextuality is an aspect of semiotics: it is concerned with the ways in which culture weaves meaning into meaning into meaning – or, to put it another way, it is to do with the ways in which media artefacts ‘quote’ each other.
Key figures in the development of the theory of intertextuality are Roland Barthes (who wrote a very influential essay called ‘The Death of the Author’) and Julia Kristeva (who came up with the term ‘Intertextuality’).
‘The term intertextuality denotes the transposition of one (or several) sign system(s) into another…’
(Julia Kristeva, ‘Revolution in Poetic Language’ (1974), in Toril Moi, ed., The Kristeva Reader, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986, p. 111.)
As a photographer, I find myself being drawn to certain images for a wide variety of reasons and I believe that I am influenced by the work of others and things that surround me, whether this be conscious or unconscious.
- unconscious – true intertextuality: beyond author’s control
- (self-)conscious – what Kristeva calls ‘the banal sense of “the study of sources”’ (p.111)
The following are crucial to understanding intertextuality:
- nothing is truly original (in the sense of unique, pristine, one-off)
- authors can’t control the ways in which their works are read and understood
- authors can’t even fully control the content of their works: inevitably there will be meanings they didn’t intend.
In the past I have deliberately appropriated other photographers work, this was because of an assignment we were set and was titled “appropriation” but even when appropriation or intertextuality takes place, the “new piece” takes on a new life and somehow becomes unique to the particular artist that created it.
Some examples of intertextuality by artists
Art Stuff. 2013. Appropriation Plus : ArtStuff. [online] Available at: http://artstuff.net.au/appropriation-plus/ [Accessed: 27 November 2013].
And here are some examples of intertextuality within my images:
Garcia Media. 2013. García Media | Weekend readings and a new French Vogue iPad app. [online] Available at: http://garciamedia.com/blog/articles/weekend_readings [Accessed: 27 November 2013].
26k.co.uk. 2013. Untitled. [online] Available at: http://www.26k.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/guy-bourdin-1.jpg [Accessed: 27 November 2013].