We tend to think of sign-making as an intrinsically human activity, but this is not the case. Quite arguably semiosis, or activities involving signs, is apparent in the most simple of organisms – even those of a single-celled variety. The purpose of this chapter is to place semiosis beyond Saussurean accounts and consider the consequences for creativity and advertising if we frame these in biosemiotic terms, or that which explores codes, signs and meaning in a biological setting that also encompasses non-human sign producers and sign receivers. As to why we should do this, there are a number of reasons, but perhaps foremost is to destabilise the blinkered sovereignty of the human sensorium; to better appreciate the unique virtual dimension of human signifying practices where symbolic practices need not have referents; and ultimately to position advertising as that which wilfully attempts to transform the sense-ratio of an individual or group for the gain of others. The reason for broadening semiosis beyond the usual human deﬁnition is to
rescue semiosis from textualism and reinvigorate it with the premise that semiosis occurs at all levels of biological existence. Although the capacity to create and reﬂect adds a boost to semiotic endeavour, complexiﬁes behaviour, intensiﬁes consciousness, and leads to symbols, stories or narratives without referents – semiosis is at heart biosemiotic, in the Spinozan (1996 ) sense of parallel being as discussed in Chapter 5 (that emphasises and explores connections between mind and body). This has consequences for ideas about aﬀect and allows us to think about advertising in a somewhat less conventional fashion. On destabilising the sovereignty of human ontology yet highlighting the core nature of semiosis to life itself, advertising in this wider biosemiotic context adopts an interesting mantle as the best representation of animal behaviour that playfully and proﬁtably ensnares each other within sensational and semiotic environments. Thus while this book is sceptical about the primacy ascribed to textualism as a highly one-sided phenomenal and projective take on the Kantian coin, it is very much interested in symbolism, particularly as it links to neurological goings-on, mapping, sensation and aﬀect, along with the human feelings and reﬂections that accompany these.