S. Mulhall, “In Space, No-One Can Hear You Scream: Acknowledging the Human Voice in the Alien Universe,” in R. Read & J. Goodenough, eds.  Film as Philosophy: Essays on Cinema After Wittgenstein and Cavell, pp. 57-71

Throughout this reading, I kept thinking back to a course I took in undergrad called “Semiotics of Advertising.”  In that course, our professor would show us various advertisements – magazine ads, commercials, etc. and then he would ask us what we saw.  At first, we could only describe what we actually saw.  Then he taught us how to read deeply into the advertisements and pull out meanings through the “signs.”  One of his favorite things to do was to pull out some sexual meaning in almost every ad we saw.  He was convinced that bottles – water bottles, coke bottles, etc. were actually designed with the intent of being a phallic shape.  Whether or not that is actually what someone had in mind when they first designed a Coca-Cola bottle, that is what he thought and that is what he taught and while part of me thought it was believable, another part of me thought he was full of crap.  Either way, I now look at coke and water bottles in a completely new light.

Even though this is an essay and not an advertisement, the following passage at the beginning of the reading especially reminded me of what we studied in that course:

“For that process – whereby the alien inserts a long, flexible member into the body of its host through one of that body’s orifices, and deposits thereby a version of itself which develops within the host’s torso to the point at which it must force itself out again – is a nightmare vision of human heterosexual intercourse, pregnancy and birth.” … (p. 57)

Trying to apply this to interaction design, I started thinking about the importance of designers paying attention to every detail.  It’s good to keep in mind certain social factors that we might actually want to get across (or not) in our design such as masculine/feminine etc.

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