Digital monsters: Representations of humans on the Internet

Zhanna Vavilova

Abstract


This paper looks at the usage of depictions of monsters as a form of self representation on the Internet and attempts to discover what may hide behind this choice of the avatar. It endeavours to tie the notions of representation, visuality and monstrosity together, with the avatar at the intersection of images and identities. The purpose of this exploration is to open up a discussion to analyse and elucidate the phenomenon of monstrosity from a semiotic perspective, namely as a form of representation of the human being in the virtual world. The choice of an icon of a monster as avatar establishes a link between image and identity since a certain mind has put it forward as its representative in an effort to prove its own presence to the others with the intention of being seen in a particular way. Communicating this sign over the Internet is akin to the mediaeval carnival where the sign shield stands for the masquerade disguise, allowing one to overcome dogmatism and alienation engendered by the hierarchy of the society through making it possible to contact people of every rank, title or position, allowing one to become free.

Keywords


computer-mediated communication; online identity; avatar-mediated visibility; visuality; dialogue; online carnival; monster; avatar

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12697/SSS.2015.43.2-3.02





SIGN SYSTEMS STUDIES. ISSN 1406-4243 (print), 1736-7409 (online). E-mail: sss@ut.ee. Postal address: Sign Systems Studies, Dept. of Semiotics, University of Tartu, Jakobi St. 2, 51014 Tartu, Estonia