Surfing the Semiosphere
posted by Erich Berger on 4 January 2019


Riding waves

Surfing the Semiosphere coalesced a group into a coherent entity for sensing the local ecologies at Kilpisjärvi. As a single sensing field, the 'I' of this group attuned themselves tothe granularity of waves formed betweenbacterial signals and the signs emitted through invisible technologies.

Field Notes

Frothing at the orifices of our I, a peristaltic gurgling foam; signals, signifiers, symbols, meaning, language are inseparable.

'When Im sitting on the inside bowl, and I get a huge set on the head, I expect it to happen. I enjoy that

part of it too. Im used to it not coming easy.'

(The Surfers Journal – current issue)

I live for one week, and then I am dispersed. I become dormant. I need new words for my time in the Kilpisjärvi semiosphere, the intersection of places once called the Umwelt,at the threshold between scales. Symbols emerge as moments of enlichenment.

I start at the mouth. These moments create traces and marks, like the Saana fossil, a geological surface that marks the emergence of peristaltic life measured by hundreds of millions of years of human time. This is a wave that breaks at the gurgling edge of a rivers bed, an interstitial lowway between high ground and deeper waters.

A cascade of events, the waterfall1 on which I stand is a torrent and swell of inorganic life, with boulders washed toward the deep waters below. I pull in the microbial sphere,bacteria, particles, spores. I feel the coolness of this new air. I take it in and let the microbes inoculate and ventilate my system. I sense a multitude of semiospheric formations

As I breathe out, that which I no longer need within this collective body becomes sign and signal in the semiosphere of other life. Here in this arctic landscape, between nose,

eye and ear, membrane and frequency, signals erupt across my senses.

And I recall tensegrity, as it becomes sensegrity.

'island of compression in an ocean of tension'.

(Buckminster Fuller)

But the peristaltic movement continues. The body of I rushes, flushes, and bursts. Cells, veins, muscles, organic and inorganic particles compress and decompress. Some stay in the flow, other evaporate and/or become part of some other body. I listen as the pfizzing, crackling, bubbling peristaltic movement reaches its convulsive, orgastic release - a semiospheric expulsion of wind, gas, vapors. And the cycle continues - I breathe in, I breathe out.


[Interpretant] moment of meaning making


1 Galton, A., & Mizoguchi, R. (2009). The water falls but the waterfall does not fall: New perspectives on objects, processes and events. Applied Ontology, 4, 71-107.

[semiosphere] first defined by Yuri Lotman, refers to the sphere of semiosis in which sign processes operate in the set of interconnected Umwelten, whereby Umwelt refers to the concept defined by von Uexküll. Organisms experience life in terms of species-specific, spatio-temporal, ͚self-in-world͛ subjective reference frames.

[Sensegrity] EXoSkeletal Model (XSM), web, field, continuous flow of sensorial signals producing a fluctuating semiosphere

[senses/sensors] a sense is a physiological capacity of organisms that provide data for perception (and meaning making), through sensing changes in their environment

[Surfing] the term surfing refers to the act of riding a wave, regardless of whether the wave is ridden with or without a board and regardless of the stance used.

[Tensegrity] Skeletal structure / continuous tension of members / producing a rigid form

[ventifact] category of potential semiosis

[waves] a wave is a disturbance that transfers energy through matter or space, with little or no associated mass transport. Wave consists of oscillation of a physical medium of field, around relatively fixed locations.