Media Language The way in which a text isconstructed to create meaning for a reader or viewer of the text
You need to be able to:Read the denotative and connotative levels ofmeaning within a media text.Use and understand the key terms used inthe analysis of media language (Denotation,Connotation, Signifier & Signified).Write a coherent analysis of the symboliccodes within your teaser trailer.
KEY TERM: SemioticsDefinition: The study of SIGNS(& the role of signs in social life) Examines how symbolic, written and technical signs construct meaning (i.e. for your trailer how mise-en-scene, camerawork, editing and sound construct meaning)
Analysing Media Texts: A Framework NB - If you analyse mise-en-scene,1. SYMBOLIC SIGNS camerawork, editing and sound you woulde.g. cover all these areas. 2. WRITTEN SIGNSColour e.g.Positioning SloganSetting & Locations 3. TECHNICAL SIGNS Typeface/Font e.g.Facial Expressions & Body Language Headlines Camera AnglesObjects Captions Framing (ELS, LS, MLS, MS, CU,Lighting Style ECU, POV)Clothing, Hair & Make Up Choice of words Editing Emphasis of words Juxtapostion (2 separate signs that together make contrasting meaning)
Semiotics – The Study of SignsSigns take the form of words, images, sounds, odours, flavours, acts orobjects, but such things have no intrinsic meaning and become signsonly when we invest them with meaning.Anything can be a sign as long as someone interprets it as signifyingsomething - referring to or standing for something other than itself (e.g.low key lighting which casts dark shadows in a film scene cansymbolise mystery in certain contexts).We interpret things as signs largely unconsciously by relating them tofamiliar systems of conventions. (e.g. shadows are not mysterious inthemselves, I am tapping into cultural ideas relating to darkness andthe unknown/hidden and our understanding of film conventions byassociating dark shadows in a film scene with mystery).The above is Adapted from Chandler (2005) - http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/sem02.html
Semiotics – The Study of SignsSaussure (a founder of semiotics) summarised it in the followingequation:The Sign = signifier + signified – a signifier - the form which the sign takes; and – the signified - the concept it represents.So the signified can change depending on the reader’sinterpretation – meaning is not fixed.What other words have you used before that could replace thewords signifier and signified?…denotation and connotation.
For those of you who want to really stretch your academic muscles… ‘Semiotics is important because it can help us not to take reality forgranted as something having a purely objective existence which is independentof human interpretation. It teaches us that reality is a system of signs. Studyingsemiotics can assist us to become more aware of reality as a construction andof the roles played by ourselves and others in constructing it …Meaning is nottransmitted to us - we actively create it according to a complex interplay ofcodes or conventions of which we are normally unaware. Becoming aware ofsuch codes is both inherently fascinating and intellectually empowering… Indefining realities signs serve ideological functions. Deconstructing andcontesting the realities of signs can reveal whose realities are privileged andwhose are suppressed. The study of signs is the study of the construction andmaintenance of reality. To decline such a study is to leave to others the controlof the world of meanings which we inhabit.’ Daniel Chandler (2005)
Roland Barthes and semioticsDenotation and connotationBarthes was an influential theorist who explored the way inwhich texts make meaning.He considered that all cultural forms, are essentially made up ofa system of signs.He analysed the denotative and connotative level of signs in amedia text.Barthes argues that the organisation of signs encodes particularmessages and ideologies and that these ideologies can berevealed as constructed through textual analysis – denotationand connotation.
SemioticsSigns can be polysemic (have many possiblemeanings)So, how do we know which meaning to read?Or, to put it another way, why do viewers interpretcertain meanings over others?– Context is important – how signs work in combination will lead us towards particular readings over others.– Dominant cultural ideas will lead us towards certain interpretations over others.– We understand the conventions of particular media forms.
SIGNIFIER: Water/Ocean SIGNIFIER: Wave Facial SIGNIFIES: Expression/Body Wild, Stormy, Language Natural, Earthly SIGNIFIES: Ecstatic, pleasure lost in ecstacy, laid back, inviting SIGNIFIER: SIGNIFIER: Mans Naked Words ‘Cool Torso Water’ SIGNIFIES: SIGNIFIES: Natural, angelic, Refreshing,pure, toned, ideal, different,masculine, adonis SIGNIFIER: Droplets on SIGNIFIER: Bottle Calligraphy Style SIGNIFIES: Font Cool, chilled SIGNIFIES: appearance, Classic, timeless, almost drinkable expensive tastes
Now analyse your own work in relation to media language Deconstruct your teaser trailer to identify the signifiers and signified – you can use the terms denotation and connotation if you prefer, but for the highest marks in the exam it is good to include a wider range of semiotic terminology acknowledge that you are dealing with a system of signs.