Barthe’s article, “Rhetoric of the Image,” Barthe discusses the many ways in which we perceive an image. He argues that there are a few basic ideas or concepts behind every image that both directly and covertly push the viewer toward a concept or idea. The first thing many people notice and a tool that helps guide the viewer towards the original intent is the linguistic message. The linguistic message is readable text that clarifies or promotes an idea that coincides with the image’s intent. The second concept in analyzing images is the denoted message, or the actual things presented in the image. Behind the denoted message is the connoted message. The connoted message is the message behind the things presented in the images, cultural relations or ideas that are tied to the items or collection of items together in an image. The Panzani pasta ad is a prime example. It has text that explains what the item is, the actual product, and a handful of ingredients with bright colors. The entire concept behind the ad is that the product is the pinnacle of freshness, the idea that making it yourself would be a waste when you could easily buy it from them.
This ad from Greenpeace has several layers, all of which help evoke their message. On the first level, the linguistic message, is the text “Stop the catastrophe. Greenpeace.” Stop the catastrophe invokes a sense of urgency, of inevitable destruction unless something is done, something done by you. The “Greenpeace” portion simply tells the viewer who is responsible for trying to stop foretold catastrophe. On the surface level of the image, the denoted message, is a tree, which is oddly resembles a nuclear explosion, and a lone man attempting to hack at this tree on a desolate hillside. The connoted message is a bit more complex. First off would be the color, black and white was chosen for a reason. Black and white in this context feels apocalyptic, frozen in time, the color of ash washing over the image as the explosion erupts. The shape of the tree represents, you guessed it, a nuclear explosion but at the same time represents a physical entity that can be destroyed. Next to the tree is the lone man who is attempting to stop this catastrophe. The lone man stands in front of the tree, which is quite obviously too great for a single person to cut down which suggests the idea that one person can’t do it alone, that by joining or helping Greenpeace, together you can cut down the tree and stop the catastrophe.
Fr my personal image I chose a scene shot in Cadiz. On a linguistic level there isn’t much to see, and advertisement for Mahou beer, a cautionary Spanish beach sign in the foreground, both of which suggest somewhere foreign, and the symbols on my clothing which are more familiar showing that I am a foreigner. The denoted message is fairly simple, two people out to eat. There is a beach in the background, drinks and various food items scattered about the table. The connoted message is a bit harder to decipher. At first glance it appears to be another meal at a restaurant, however the food items are foreign and the person to my left is staring at me intently as I take a bite of chiparones (fried mini squids). Items about the table are left unfinished and the man in white has yet to try his piece. This is a meal of firsts. There is a subtle smirk on his face as I bite down and my eyes are closed implying that what I am eating could potentially be hilarious for everyone else and horrible for me. Turns out that chiparones are quite good, except mine which happened to be rotten and disgusting, but as seen in the photo, despite the putrid taste in my mouth, I tried to keep a blank face so as not to offend my Spanish friends who have just purchased their favorite meal for me.