How words and images signify


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How words and images signify

  1. 1. How words and images signify and convery meaning<br />COM 103<br />Dr. Pam Wilson<br />
  2. 2. How do we communicate?<br />Spoken language<br />Non-verbal communication:<br />Facial expressions<br />Voice tone<br />Gestures and body language<br />Written communication<br />Still images (photos, art)<br />Moving images<br />
  3. 3. Classic Communication Model<br />
  4. 4. Another model (adding interference, or “noise”)<br />
  5. 5. Interference hinders communication process<br />Communicator’s self-interference—lack of clear expression<br />Channel interference—causes distortion<br />Environmental interference—distractions in receiver’s surroundings<br />Receiver interference—when the receiver (listener, reader, watcher) obstructs process through selective attention, exposure or perception<br />
  6. 6. How does mass communication (media) change this model?<br />Differences in time and space between sender and receivers<br />Introduces technologies into the process<br />Interpersonal often becomes one-to-many<br />Limited range of CHANNELS <br />
  7. 7. Interpersonal channels include simultaneous:<br />Spoken language<br />Facial expressions<br />Tones of voice, non-linguistic utterances, energy in voice (e.g. excitement, dread, fear)<br />Gestures and body language<br />Possibly also written language (writing on blackboard, power point)<br />
  8. 8. Media communication<br />Limits that multi-channel experience (removes ability to see and hear and interpret gestures, etc.)<br />Media communication process is not simultaneous (sending and receiving separated in time and space)—so feedback is delayed or non-existent<br />e.g., broadcast communication, film, newspapers, magazines, web pages <br />
  9. 9. Semiotics: study of how signs (words, images, gestures) signify meaning<br />Meanings are ENCODED and DECODED<br />Interpretation varied from receiver to receiver, but we are trained to “read” codes by our culture<br />Analysis of visual systems of representation as well as language and sounds<br />
  10. 10. Questions for Semiotics<br />How do people communicate with each other?<br />How does meaning (thoughts, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, visions, ideas) get encoded into messages? <br />That is, how does the communicator (the “sender”) “package” those ideas, thoughts and feelings into a message that is communicated using various channels?<br />
  11. 11. How do these messages get physically transferred from person to person?<br />How do these messages get mentally “transferred” from the mind of one person to the mind(s) of other person(s)?<br />How does a person on the receiving end “unpackage” (decode) the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, visions, ideas? <br />After “unpackaging” them, now does that person make sense of them or assign meaning to them? (interpretation)<br />
  12. 12. 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?<br />
  13. 13. Semiotics<br />American philosopher & logician Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914)<br />Founded “semiotics” as the scientific study of signs and sign processes– semiosis was the process of creating meaning<br />
  14. 14. Peirce<br />In 1907 he defined semiosis as <br />"action, or influence, which is, or involves, a cooperation of three subjects, such as a sign, its object, and its interpretant.“<br />
  15. 15. Peirce’s semiotics<br />Sign= a signifier or symbol<br />Three kinds of sign: icon, index, symbol <br />Object =physical thing that a sign stands for<br />Interpretant=concept of the meaning in the mind of the person doing the interpreting<br />
  16. 16.
  17. 17. Saussure’s semiologie<br />Swiss linguist, Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913)<br />Course in General Linguistics, his lectures published in 1915 after his death by two of his students <br />Dyadic (two-part) model for how we use signs to signify meaning<br />
  18. 18. process of significationin a sign system or code<br />sign = signifier + signified <br />signified is a concept (Peirce’s interpretant); referent is the object in reality (Peirce’s object)<br />Signs are usually arbitrary<br />
  19. 19. Sign or code SYSTEMS<br />Depth beneath the surface: underneath the surface are hidden generative mechanisms (rules, formulas, etc.) that are organized and patterned<br />GRAMMAR is the deep system for language<br />But there are systems for non-linguistic codes as well—part of each culture<br />Culture is a signifying system like language<br />
  20. 20. Roland Barthes (1915-1980)<br />French cultural theorist <br />analysis of images as signs that are loaded with meaning, both denotative and connotative<br />Especially pertinent to study visual culture: art, photography, advertising, popular culture and media<br />
  21. 21. TWO LEVELS OF MEANING (Roland Barthes)<br />Denotative: literal, descriptive meaning, providing documentary evidence of objective circumstances<br />Connotative: culturally specific meanings that rely on the cultural and historical context of the image and its viewer’s lived, felt knowledge<br />
  22. 22. Barthes’ famous example –Paris Match cover<br />
  23. 23. Barthes and the image<br />Signifier= the image<br />1st level signification: denotation<br /> (African boy in uniform saluting)<br />2nd level signification: connotation or myth<br />Young African colonial subjects of France proudly and happily serve in the French military—an ideological statement<br />
  24. 24. Barthes’ concepts<br />Myth = cultural values and beliefs that are expressed at the level of connotation<br />the hidden set of rules and conventions through which meanings are made to seem universal and natural <br />(rather than culturally or historically specific)<br />
  25. 25. Semiotics and media<br />vocabulary based on analogies with language and reading:<br />a TV documentary, a radio play, a Madonna song, a poster at a bus stop are all texts.<br />users of these texts are referred to as readers<br />the vocabulary of film<br />the grammar of TV documentaries, etc.<br />
  26. 26. For the following pictures, if the image is the signifier…<br />What is the signified (concept)?<br />What is the referent (real corresponding object)?<br />What does the image denote (first-level signification)?<br />What does the image connote (second level signification)?<br />
  27. 27. Images have different purposes<br /><br />(Advertising images)<br />Images from photojournalism<br />
  28. 28. Nick Ut,Vietnam Napalm 1972Associated Press<br />
  29. 29. Jeff Widener, APTiananmen Square, BeijingJune 5, 1989<br />
  30. 30. Charles Porter, IV Oklahoma City BombingApril 19, 1995<br />
  31. 31. Dorothea LangeMigrant Mother;Nipomo, California1936<br />