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Andrew Mark Creighton


Though not having a specific theme, the current publication is a celebratory one, marking Hortus Semioticus’ tenth issue. Ten times students of the Department of Semiotics at the University of Tartu have published works covering topics ranging as far as Semiotics can reach. In this respect, the current issue is no different from the past ones, featuring three original articles, all focusing on biosemiotics yet, taking considerably different views while exploring and contending with the implications of the subfield concerning the urban environment of Tartu (Reimann), philosophy (Kozachynska), and synaesthesia and cognition (Treija).

Furthermore, we have included two interviews, one with the prominent semiotician Peeter Torop and the second with cultural psychologist Jaan Valsiner. Both scholars are linked to Tartu semiotics, Valsiner from his more current research and recent stay at the Department of Semiotics, and Torop being not only intricately linked to the department but a fundamental part of it for over 40 years, continuously contributing innovative and defining semiotic research and carrying on the Tartu-Moscow school tradition.

Moreover, this 10th issue is marked with the publication of a piece in Sign Systems Studies competently titled, “Hortus Semioticus” by Eleni Alexandri and Tuuli Pern. The two semioticians, Pern being one of the founders of Hortus Semioticus, and Alexandri being an editor of this current issue and a prominent member of the editorial board, present a concise history of the the journal from its founding in Kalevi Kull’s garden to its current developments (Alexandri, Pern 2022).

Regarding the three articles, Hildegard Reimann‘s “Avastades visuaalse välitöö kaudu paljuliigilist linnamaastikku. Tähelepanekuid öisest Tartust” is the first in this issue. The scholar takes an interest in nocturnal nonhuman animals and the urban environment of Tartu. The paper has a transdisciplinary approach, innovatively combining visual anthropological methods ⁠— mainly observational filming, self-reflection, and ethnography ⁠— with eco- and zoosemiotics to study nonhuman animals in the shared settings of Tartu. Reimann concludes by noting the importance and effectiveness of these method combinations for ecological research.

Nina Kozachynska’s article, “Removing stones from a thread to string them: How biocentric thinking accentuates human singularity”, focuses on the philosophy of humans in relation to nonhuman animals while drawing from zoosemiotics, philosophy, and corporeal phenomenology. Offering a needed and insightful look at how humans and nonhuman animal relations appear when dualistic differences are discarded, Kozachynska applies her philosophical and semiotic synthesis to subjective time, corporeality, and metaphor.

The third article in this issue, “Synaesthetic tendencies in chimpanzees (Pan Troglodytes) as evolutionary advantages and learning aids, as compared to the human synaesthetic spectrum” by Kristīne Treija, focuses on synaesthesia within chimpanzees. Taking a focus through zoosemiotics, cognition, and primate science, Treija makes a thoroughly argued and contemplative discussion on chimpanzee synaesthesia. Specifically, the scholar is concerned with the evolutionary advantages of synaesthesia and its possible benefits in facilitating learning processes.

In the first of two interviews collected here, Elli Marie Tragel holds a discussion with the semiotics-oriented psychologist Jaan Valsiner. Tragel not only investigates Valsiner’s theoretical frameworks on time, semiotics, psychology, and concepts like ‘upconcious’ but discusses his views on the world and his past experiences as a student in Tartu. All of which Valsiner answers with much insight and knowledge by relating them to his experiences as an academic and individual, contemporary issues, and the development of his work.
The second interview is between Maarja Ojamaa and Peeter Torop, in which Ojamaa inquires about Torop’s early experiences as a student and academic, his definition of semiotics, and what intrigues and fascinates him the most about semiotics, among several other questions. Torop’s responses demonstrate the value of his experiences with Tartu semiotics, issues that are arising within the field, and the importance of transdisciplinary research. Torop and Ojamaa conclude their discussion, with Torop offering advice to new students, emphasising the importance of understanding metalanguage and its relation to objects of study, and other research dynamics.

The texts included in this edition take a wide breadth, revealing the versatility of biosemiotics in its applicability to cognition, philosophy, and shared urban environments, as well as the insights and experiences of the major semioticians Valsiner and Torop. It is no doubt then, that the literature published here, is perfect for celebrating Hortus Semioticus’ 10th issue. Moreover, I am certain that such value that can be found within this 10th issue, will be found in Hortus Semioticus issues from anniversary to anniversary for many years into the future.

This issue was edited by Andrew Mark Creighton, Eleni Alexandri, and Hongjin Song, with the assistance of Katre Pärn and Nelly Mäekivi. The Hortus Semioticus editorial board consists of Andrew Mark Creighton, Eleni Alexandri, Katre Pärn, Keily Tammaru, Nelly Mäekivi, Hongjin Song, Siiri Tarrikas, Thorolf Johannes Van Walsum, Andrea Barone Renolfi, and Karl Joosep Pihel. Special thanks go to Mark Mets, Ott Puumeister, Silver Rattasepp, Tuuli Pern, Oscar Miyamoto, Karl Joosep Pihel, Daniel Tamm, Tyler James Bennet, and all of the reviewers.


Alexandri, Eleni; Pern, Tuuli 2022. Hortus Semioticus. Sign Systems Studies 50(4): 521-529.