You Are Reading

Lecture 13: Visual Communication

‘The Rhetoric of an image’ A theorist called Roland Barthes based his approach to understanding images around a set of principles that can be applied to any image 

Images are created to communicate certain ideas, they are visually constructed

Photograph of the cast of the only way is essex - it is primarily a picture of young men and women enjoying themselves, however ideas about the image change when it is viewed within the context of a newspaper article

Within images there are layers of meaning, culture has the main impact upon changing the meaning of an image and our own influences affect how we see image, read and understand images

There is different meaning created by the image if you have a greater knowledge of what is going on and existing within the image. This is where the theory of denotation and connotation is used in the analysis of images. The image denotes people sitting on a sofa, however the image connotes a lot more if you have a greater understanding of the show itself. Cultural connotations expand the contextual meaning of the image.

Roland Barthes said the Denotation is level of meaning which simply describes what an image is depicting. It is the literal or common sense meaning of image that most understand. Connotation of an image is what the image is implying or suggesting about its subject and is often as a result of cultural meaning.

Roland Barthes theories stem from studies of linguistics and language by applying these theories to images

However the theory that images represent or consist of a visual language is still debated today.

The question of ‘what is said?’ how does this apply to images and does it create a visual language and work in the same way that it does for written language

Semioticians - People who explore and explain the meaning behind images,

There are two types of meaning created by the subjects within an image the Signifier - what the audience can see in the image and the Signified what is conveyed by the subject of the image, in this model the image is referred to as the sign.

[Image of Barrack Obama] this image denotes a man smartly dressed and smiling the image however Connotes power, status and confidence. The classical building in the background of the image is a building that is reminiscent of buildings of ancient greece which is where democracy first originated, where a government was developed rather than a dictatorship. Both greece and rome symbolise and connote democracy as well as the great western civilization, these countries represent that the beginnings of intellectual ideas that form our world today. Having Obama stand next to this building is symbolic of all of these ideas stated above and all this is good about democracy.

The domes found in roman building are also used within democratic building within a america as these building symbolise and reference the power and technical competence of the roman civilization. In the same way that prestigious educational establishments within american still teach latin because of its connection to power and status of Rome.

The Reichstag building in Germany was a symbol of the former Germany that is now unified into one country between 1980-1990, the Germans needed to create symbol that altered the perception of the building from bad to good within german society. An artist was employed who decided to wrap the building entirely in silk, the building then became known as the building that was wrapped in silk as a posed to a building that was despised by the germans as it harked back to there unwanted past.

Rudolf Wittkower was primarily interested in the way in which images were used in certain contexts and how this creates a meaning for the image. Time, place and culture at the time the image is first displayed is what creates the images context.

[World of Warcraft image] The symbolism within this image and the way it is presented is similar to the film Eragon or Lord of the Rings, fire is used to link the image with images of hell, the dragons and the way they are depicted all come as a result of the social context formed by the image.

Pierre Bourdieu a french theorist said that the baggage people carry around with them and there lifestyle choices all impact and effect how one views and understands an image, for example how someone with a wealthy background may view an image in comparison to how a poor person with a bad upbringing may view an image.

In comparison to the world of warcraft image the image of a stained glass window featuring a dragon immediately changes the context of the image, because of the stained glass the viewer is aware in image is from a church and now the dragon is used as a symbol for evil.

Meaning is put into an image by the image maker, meaning is not simply created by itself.

Symbols are constantly used within images because the audience can recognize them and relate to them which create further and more understood meaning within an image.

The meaning of a image can be different to everyone because of differing social contexts and personal baggage.

[LCA Image] underpinning this image is connotations of Classicism and links to the roman empire. Symbols such as the paint brushes and sculpting are used as a form of expression that symbolises the values and beliefs of that time in art history that we carry on today.

Comments for this entry

Leave your comment


Copyright 2011 All rights reserved