The pandemic spreading of the COVID-19 virus has led to the global need to introduce, often by law, the medical face mask, which can undoubtedly be considered as “the object of 2020.” In a few months, most human faces around the world in the public space, but also often in the private space, have been covered with various kinds of protective masks. Very soon, these objects have become the centre of several discursive productions, going from medical reports to media coverage, from artistic representations to ironic memes. The medical face mask was not totally new in the west, where it was already present in special circumstances, like dentists’ studios or emergency rooms, and was quite familiar in the east, especially in Japan, China, and Korea. Yet such massive introduction changed the meaning of the medical face mask in every context. Old habits were reconfigured or clashed with the new ones, giving rise to a novel syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of the human face in conjunction with this device and in the context of the global pandemic. The present paper offers an introduction to a semiotic mapping of such radical cultural change and its likely consequences.

The Semiotics of the Anti-COVID-19 Mask

Leone, Massimo
First
2023-01-01

Abstract

The pandemic spreading of the COVID-19 virus has led to the global need to introduce, often by law, the medical face mask, which can undoubtedly be considered as “the object of 2020.” In a few months, most human faces around the world in the public space, but also often in the private space, have been covered with various kinds of protective masks. Very soon, these objects have become the centre of several discursive productions, going from medical reports to media coverage, from artistic representations to ironic memes. The medical face mask was not totally new in the west, where it was already present in special circumstances, like dentists’ studios or emergency rooms, and was quite familiar in the east, especially in Japan, China, and Korea. Yet such massive introduction changed the meaning of the medical face mask in every context. Old habits were reconfigured or clashed with the new ones, giving rise to a novel syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of the human face in conjunction with this device and in the context of the global pandemic. The present paper offers an introduction to a semiotic mapping of such radical cultural change and its likely consequences.
2023
1
8
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10350330.2020.1868943
COVID-19 Pandemic, Medical Mask, Cultural Semiotics, Social Attitudes
Leone, Massimo
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2318/1765973
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