Media language semiotics lesson 2 & 3


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Media language semiotics lesson 2 & 3

  1. 1. Media Language Semiotics
  2. 3. Roland Barthes: The language of signs <ul><li>He argued that verbal language is just one way of communicating, others include: </li></ul><ul><li>Hairstyle </li></ul><ul><li>Clothing </li></ul><ul><li>Body language </li></ul><ul><li>Make up </li></ul>
  3. 4. Models for understanding language <ul><li>Language is CONSTRUCTED by people to produce meanings within their culture </li></ul><ul><li>It is only when we name objects and events that they are given meaning and definition </li></ul><ul><li>The social contract of language means that we agree to use the same language as everyone else so they understand us. </li></ul><ul><li>We can however play with the language of our society through signs, codes and patterns as well as words. </li></ul>
  4. 5. Three parts to every sign… <ul><li>The Signifier: The physical form of the sign. The written word on the paper, a traffic light, a smile. </li></ul><ul><li>The Signified: This is the concept or idea that the signifier produces. A red light signifies stop. The written word ROSE connects to the idea of a rose. A smile could signify happiness. </li></ul><ul><li>The Referent: The real thing, not the signal or the idea but the real, individual thing. A real individual rose, the real feeling of happiness. </li></ul>
  5. 6. The Semiotic Triangle Text Signifier Signified Referent GAP
  6. 7. <ul><li>Semiotics emphasises that our perception of reality is shaped by the words and signs that we use, and how we interpret the words and signs of others. </li></ul>Signifier Signified Referent A red rose An empty chair A shaved head A leather jacket
  7. 8. Task <ul><li>Watch the opening sequence from Mission: Impossible without sound. What is happening? Pick three signifiers that signify this. </li></ul>
  8. 9. Media Language Semiotics – 2 Denotation  Connotation
  9. 10. Terms… <ul><li>Denote (denotation) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>deconstruction of any media text begins with a detailed description of what is empirically present (visually and audibly) or what is DENOTED on the page / screen. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Connote (connotation) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>after the initial description, you can move on to assessing what is CONNOTED by the signs. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Signifiers are denoted . What is signified is connoted. </li></ul><ul><li>The connotations of the signs create the meaning . ie red connotes (or signifies) passion, desire, blood, danger etc. The terms connote and signify are almost interchangeable. </li></ul>
  10. 11. What do you think these elements would connote in a film? <ul><li>1. A dark room </li></ul><ul><li>2. High pitched screeching music </li></ul><ul><li>3. Shadows </li></ul><ul><li>4. Rain </li></ul><ul><li>5. Sunshine </li></ul><ul><li>6. Classical pastoral music </li></ul><ul><li>7. A frown </li></ul><ul><li>8. A smile as an aside to the audience </li></ul><ul><li>9. Red Light in a room </li></ul><ul><li>10. A man carrying a rose </li></ul>
  11. 12. The signs or signifiers in films <ul><li>Films use the human capability for interpreting signs. </li></ul><ul><li>The black and red background to most Horror movie titles has connotations of fear and blood. </li></ul><ul><li>The creaky doorway in a thriller creates tension. </li></ul><ul><li>Romantic music puts the audience in a romantic mood and allows them to realise something romantic is about to happen. </li></ul>
  12. 13. <ul><li>To approach signifiers you have to realise there are Objective ones (put there intentionally to give clues about how to feel or react to the film) and </li></ul><ul><li>Subjective ones (not intentionally put there but something that reminds an individual of something in their life or memories from the past). </li></ul><ul><li>When watching a film an audience usually picks up on the same objective signifiers but can have a whole host of connotations attached to differing subjective signifiers. </li></ul>
  13. 14. <ul><li>The ability to pick up on the signifiers in a film depends on an audience's </li></ul><ul><li>Experience </li></ul><ul><li>Emotional capacity </li></ul><ul><li>Intellect. </li></ul><ul><li>The less emotionally experienced you are, the less likely you are to pick up on subtle emotional signifiers. </li></ul><ul><li>The less intelligent you are, the less likely you are to analyse the film in depth, and so on. </li></ul><ul><li>The understanding of a film is therefore relative to the individual watching the film. </li></ul>
  14. 15. <ul><li>This is why sometimes you can watch a film and get a certain amount of satisfaction from it, then watch it again a few years later and get a host of new experiences and connotations from the same film. </li></ul><ul><li>Signifiers can be created through Mis-en-scene, Lighting, Music, and Dialogue. </li></ul>
  15. 16. Task: <ul><li>Watch the opening sequence of Independence Day </li></ul><ul><li>List ten objective signifiers (ones put there by the director to focus the audience) and five subjective signifiers (elements in the sequence which had meanings personal to you). </li></ul>
  16. 17. Task <ul><li>Watch the opening to Independence Day again. </li></ul><ul><li>Describe how three of the signifiers in the sequence create meaning through their connotations. </li></ul>
  17. 18. The Treachery of Images – Renee Magritte – 1928-29.