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How words and images signify
 

How words and images signify

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    How words and images signify How words and images signify Presentation Transcript

    • How words and images signify and convery meaning
      COM 103
      Dr. Pam Wilson
    • How do we communicate?
      Spoken language
      Non-verbal communication:
      Facial expressions
      Voice tone
      Gestures and body language
      Written communication
      Still images (photos, art)
      Moving images
    • Classic Communication Model
    • Another model (adding interference, or “noise”)
    • Interference hinders communication process
      Communicator’s self-interference—lack of clear expression
      Channel interference—causes distortion
      Environmental interference—distractions in receiver’s surroundings
      Receiver interference—when the receiver (listener, reader, watcher) obstructs process through selective attention, exposure or perception
    • How does mass communication (media) change this model?
      Differences in time and space between sender and receivers
      Introduces technologies into the process
      Interpersonal often becomes one-to-many
      Limited range of CHANNELS
    • Interpersonal channels include simultaneous:
      Spoken language
      Facial expressions
      Tones of voice, non-linguistic utterances, energy in voice (e.g. excitement, dread, fear)
      Gestures and body language
      Possibly also written language (writing on blackboard, power point)
    • Media communication
      Limits that multi-channel experience (removes ability to see and hear and interpret gestures, etc.)
      Media communication process is not simultaneous (sending and receiving separated in time and space)—so feedback is delayed or non-existent
      e.g., broadcast communication, film, newspapers, magazines, web pages
    • Semiotics: study of how signs (words, images, gestures) signify meaning
      Meanings are ENCODED and DECODED
      Interpretation varied from receiver to receiver, but we are trained to “read” codes by our culture
      Analysis of visual systems of representation as well as language and sounds
    • Questions for Semiotics
      How do people communicate with each other?
      How does meaning (thoughts, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, visions, ideas) get encoded into messages?
      That is, how does the communicator (the “sender”) “package” those ideas, thoughts and feelings into a message that is communicated using various channels?
    • How do these messages get physically transferred from person to person?
      How do these messages get mentally “transferred” from the mind of one person to the mind(s) of other person(s)?
      How does a person on the receiving end “unpackage” (decode) the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, visions, ideas?
      After “unpackaging” them, now does that person make sense of them or assign meaning to them? (interpretation)
    • If there are opportunities for response, feedback and interaction, how then do the participants in the communication exchange choose to interact in order to negotiate those meanings and act upon them?
    • Semiotics
      American philosopher & logician Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914)
      Founded “semiotics” as the scientific study of signs and sign processes– semiosis was the process of creating meaning
    • Peirce
      In 1907 he defined semiosis as
      "action, or influence, which is, or involves, a cooperation of three subjects, such as a sign, its object, and its interpretant.“
    • Peirce’s semiotics
      Sign= a signifier or symbol
      Three kinds of sign: icon, index, symbol
      Object =physical thing that a sign stands for
      Interpretant=concept of the meaning in the mind of the person doing the interpreting
    • Saussure’s semiologie
      Swiss linguist, Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913)
      Course in General Linguistics, his lectures published in 1915 after his death by two of his students
      Dyadic (two-part) model for how we use signs to signify meaning
    • process of significationin a sign system or code
      sign = signifier + signified
      signified is a concept (Peirce’s interpretant); referent is the object in reality (Peirce’s object)
      Signs are usually arbitrary
    • Sign or code SYSTEMS
      Depth beneath the surface: underneath the surface are hidden generative mechanisms (rules, formulas, etc.) that are organized and patterned
      GRAMMAR is the deep system for language
      But there are systems for non-linguistic codes as well—part of each culture
      Culture is a signifying system like language
    • Roland Barthes (1915-1980)
      French cultural theorist
      analysis of images as signs that are loaded with meaning, both denotative and connotative
      Especially pertinent to study visual culture: art, photography, advertising, popular culture and media
    • TWO LEVELS OF MEANING (Roland Barthes)
      Denotative: literal, descriptive meaning, providing documentary evidence of objective circumstances
      Connotative: culturally specific meanings that rely on the cultural and historical context of the image and its viewer’s lived, felt knowledge
    • Barthes’ famous example –Paris Match cover
    • Barthes and the image
      Signifier= the image
      1st level signification: denotation
      (African boy in uniform saluting)
      2nd level signification: connotation or myth
      Young African colonial subjects of France proudly and happily serve in the French military—an ideological statement
    • Barthes’ concepts
      Myth = cultural values and beliefs that are expressed at the level of connotation
      the hidden set of rules and conventions through which meanings are made to seem universal and natural
      (rather than culturally or historically specific)
    • Semiotics and media
      vocabulary based on analogies with language and reading:
      a TV documentary, a radio play, a Madonna song, a poster at a bus stop are all texts.
      users of these texts are referred to as readers
      the vocabulary of film
      the grammar of TV documentaries, etc.
    • For the following pictures, if the image is the signifier…
      What is the signified (concept)?
      What is the referent (real corresponding object)?
      What does the image denote (first-level signification)?
      What does the image connote (second level signification)?
    • Images have different purposes
      http://justpaste.it/2p8
      (Advertising images)
      Images from photojournalism
    • Nick Ut,Vietnam Napalm 1972Associated Press
    • Jeff Widener, APTiananmen Square, BeijingJune 5, 1989
    • Charles Porter, IV Oklahoma City BombingApril 19, 1995
    • Dorothea LangeMigrant Mother;Nipomo, California1936