• Semiotics is generally described as the “study of signs.”• Semiotics tries to investigate how images create meaning.• Visual semiotics is a subdomain of semiotics that analyzes visual signs.• The philosopher: Ferdinand de Saussure, Roland Barthes and Charles Sanders Peirce
Three important principles when analyzing asemiotic system:1. Semioticians believe all people see the world through signs.2. The meaning of signs is created by people and does not exist separately from them and the life of their social/cultural community.3. Semiotic systems provide people with a variety of resources for making meaning.
• Denotation: What you see• Signifier: The visible or present component 1. Icon: The signifer represents the signifed by apparently having likeness to it (as for example photographs and maps) 2. Symbol: Symbolic signs have a conventionalized but clearly arbitrary relationship between signifer and signifed. 3. Index: The sign refers to something, which is not in the image (you see smoke, but not what produced the smoke). It is about causal relationships and narrative aspects
• Connotation: What you think• Signified: The invisible or tacit component 1. Paradigm: A substitution of a group of elements 2. Syntagm: A whole sequence of elements, like a layout.
The text operates on a denotative level. Itdescribes what is already shown in the image.
In this image the anchorage of the text works on the connotative meaning.
The Yin Yang emphazises that a city should live in balance with its surrounding nature. The blue of the flag is substituted with water, showing that the rising sea level threatens the Netherlands. The signature makes human rights a personal matter.An iconic representation of an ice bear,which is in danger due to the rise of theoceans.
Indexical signs are showing a causal relationship and supporting a narrativeaspect in the image. The wholes and the wall are standing for war, theimprints of the ball show that also in war zones children play and shouldhave the right to play.
Sign Systems• A set of signs is called a sign system or a code.• Meaning comes not just from the individual sign, but more importantly from the set of signs within which it appears.• Codes include language, gestures,food, clothing, objects, dance, and music.• In real life, just as no one sign stands alone, codes must be understood in terms of their mutual influences.
Gunther Kress and Theo Leeuwen analyze layout in terms ofthree systems:1. Information Value The placement of elements endows them with the speciﬁc informational values attached to the various ‘zones’ of the image: left and right, top and bottom, centre and margin.2. Salience The elements are made to attract the viewer’s attention to different degrees, as realized by such factors as placement in the foreground or background, relative size, contrasts in tonal value (or colour), differences in sharpness, etc.3. Framing The presence or absence of framing devices disconnects or connects elements of the image, signifying that they belong or do not belong together in some sense.
Information value can have three different structures:1. Top-Bottom Structure The ideal is found on the top, the real is found at the bottom2. Centre-Margin Whatever is placed in the center is the nucleus of information, there is little left-right movement, more common in certain eastern cultures3. Left-Right Structure On the left hand side information is found that the viewer already knows, on the right side information which is new
‘Make some noise for those who can’t be heard.’