3. Semiotics

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3. Semiotics

Post by glegrady » Tue Oct 05, 2010 2:21 pm

Please post your review of Art & Semiotics of Images here - due Thursday October 14 - (changed on Oct 12)
George Legrady

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Re: 3. Semiotics

Post by klmurphy » Wed Oct 13, 2010 4:33 pm

“Images "say" nothing--they are mute, they make no propositions about the world--and for that reason have been valued by modernist poets as a mode of meaning or apprehension that does not use discursive reason.” (http://faculty.washington.edu/dillon/rh ... gsave.html)

Upon stumbling along this quote in the reading, I am perplexed at the statement as well as what this implies. Right off the bat, I think that a majority of images are saying things both literally and figuratively. From McDonald’s advertisements with the inclusion of text to impressionistic paintings text free both signify and scream different meanings or emotions making them visually loud.

For example: In this billboard, McDonalds has certain food products of theirs on display. These items are arranged to visually welcome the viewer, all the items are set up like a buffet for one to pick what they want. Then in the corner the viewer sees the arch logo with the phrase “I’m lovin it” underneath. Besides the array of food items spread in a cornucopia fashion, the background is red, the most attractive and arresting color to the eye which is why it is used so often in advertising alongside yellow, another attractive color used in advertising commonly.
In contrast, the image of Claude Monet’s water lilies we are show soft colors blended into each other, a stylistically impressionistic painting. Here we are being given an image that triggers a peaceful and natural sanctuary, which evokes a quiet emotion of bliss and earthly beauty. In this painting something is still being said even with the lack of text. What is being said is left open for the viewers interpretation, although it is more likely than not that the viewers reaction between the McDonalds add and the Monet painting are at opposite ends of the spectrum on topic, nonetheless they have noise in them and evoke a certain sound or feeling to the viewer.

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Post by amirzaian » Wed Oct 13, 2010 7:21 pm

In the article “Art and the Semiotics of Images” there were several ideals which were presented about how images are perceived. The idea that text and image coexisting within the same environment grabbed my attention. The quote with in the article which claimed “text may discreetly assist us in getting the image float in the right direction” seem to be a key tactic used in may advertisements. There were several examples which were given one of which being the Kraft food product ad. When i first looked at the image without the text i just noticed the plethora of kraft food products and how most of them were around the same color. However after i clicked on the add text button the message became clear. The text that appeared said “Wast Products” which suggested that “the words anchor the display to a vary conventional dismissal of “American processed food”.” The idea that text can change or enhance the meaning of an image is one of the key elements used in advertising. How we perceive images in our daily lives is altered depending on what the text within the image says.
wasteb_200.jpg (23.66 KiB) Viewed 6169 times

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Re: 3. Semiotics

Post by rzant » Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:32 pm

Within this article, one of the key issues Dillon examines is the combination of text and the image. He explains that these two elements operate under two separate systems of signification. Whereas meanings derived from the linguistic system may be much more explicit in nature, messages attained from images may be broad and more dependent upon the viewer and his or her attitudes. However, Dillon argues that the system by which the image conveys its meaning is just as effective as any linguistic system. He states, “most pictures are composed of parts, though the parts are bits of image”, just as any linguistic message is formed from different words and phrases. He continues, stating, “As long as the meanings we have to convey pertain to objects in space, a graphic display is fully as adequate, perhaps superior to, a verbal description”.


Hannah Hoch’s “Cut with a Kitchen Knife through the Beer Belly of the Current Weimar Repulic” plays into this sentiment, eliminating the idea that language is a means for explicit communication. Instead of embodying grammatical significance, the use of text within this piece serves to cater to compositional and aesthetic aspects. The words serve as merely another visual element of the image, just like the faces and wheels surrounding them. In this case, language has been deconstructed and forced into the same system of meaning within which the image operates.

Presently, however, more and more text has been incorporated with images in order to explain or comment upon the image’s subject matter in some way. Text is almost imperative within the mass media context. Rarely does one encounter a news image or advertisement without words to qualify it. Thus, contemporary society is being trained to rely upon text in order to infer meaning. This is a sign that our culture places a higher value upon linguistic communication over communication via pure images. Sadly, the unique vocabulary of the pure image is falling into the periphery, rather than being embraced in a broader cultural context. However, it is undeniable that the vocabulary of the image can explain something that words cannot.

John Baldessari – “What is Painting?”

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Re: 3. Semiotics

Post by jliu » Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:33 pm

"Art and the Semiotics of Images"


In this article, one of the points that stood out to me was how metaphoric images were set up.
"Overlapping images express a multiplicity of links and metaphors: the mind's eye, the hand of creation, the coordination of hand and eye, the hand and tool, the integration of person and work, the wholeness of artistic creation--and, possibly, even a halo for its saintly constructor." ( Visual Explanations (1997): p. 140.) This quote tells us that the images that are overlapped or have a sense of transparency gives the viewers a feel of the image having an underlying meaning to it. The overlapping subjects in the image forces the viewer to connect the dots and to create his own thoughts about what the artist is trying to say. In the picture above, it shows a face of a man with a hand floating over the face. By looking at the picture, the writer says that the viewer can get the idea of "the mind's eye" by tracing and "linking up the nouns" in the image.

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Re: 3. Semiotics

Post by ariel » Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:53 pm

The article talks about Victor Burgin’s image “Life Demands a Little Give and Take” (1974). It explains that “text and image are in the opposite relation.” It also says “I am not sure how readily the image would make sense with no context.” The article explains that many pictures make more sense to the audience when it has a story or article to help explain the meaning behind the photograph. In this example the story may be more confusing to the reader without the photograph due to the metaphors. The story talks about how the, “Evening is the softest time of day” and that, “the tomes are pale, delicate. These are the classic Mayfair colours.” Without the photo the reader may not understand that this text is referring to how pale skin is beautiful.
Although I agree with this, in some cases, I think that the picture helps enhance the article. The saying “a picture is a thousand words” explains how powerful one photograph can be. In many news stories pictures are present to make the story seem more real and dramatic. The photo makes the story real in the viewer’s eyes and is something that they will remember later rather than just words that are not visual.

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Re: 3. Semiotics

Post by yunjikim » Wed Oct 13, 2010 11:14 pm


Art and the Semiotics of Images discusses the language within images and the visual messages that they convey. Images, though they are “mute,” are a mode of meaning, in which the language is a medium to the message. In this article, language is compared to images, juxtaposing the contents and the ability to arrange their components to parallel syntax. Regardless of whether there is text written on the image or not, the image can still convey a movement. Without the physical text, there is little chance of the text becoming typography. Thus, the lack of text allows for open interpretation. For example, viewers cannot immediately grasp the message of Catalog piece #2, a photograph of a lady in a striped bathing suit. The angle that the photograph was taken in represents an impossible human behavior. The words “Post Human” were used to describe this photograph, in which the author interprets as “future world or tendency – postructualism.” Though the lady is actually lying down a few inches above water, the angles allow the subject to appear as if she was floating, or levitating in the air and looking down.

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Re: 3. Semiotics

Post by Sarah » Thu Oct 14, 2010 12:01 am

Images are viewed in several ways, however, I am specifically interested in what George Dillan titles, "Including the Shooter." He suggests, "The set of engagements (and non-engagements) is further enriched when the photographer includes himself or herself in the scene." I believe this is true in several ways because it defies the natural viewing thoughts on images. Instead of focusing on what we see when we look at an image, we are placed in the position of being an active part of the photograph.

The picture, "Picture for Women, 1979" by Jeff Wall is a perfect example of this perceptual phenomenon. Instead of looking at this woman alone in a room, we are now part of the photography process. We now see the set involved, the position and purposefulness of her placement, and the way in which the photographer himself moves about the set. We become an interactive being in the photograph opposed to a curious onlooker. I like this concept because photographs had only been about what we see and want others to see, but now it can also be about what we see, what we do and what we want people to be able to witness regarding the process as well.

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Victor Burgin

Post by RebeccaW » Thu Oct 14, 2010 12:13 am

Victor Bugin plays with our view of advertisements as a society. By creating his own advertisements that forces the viewer to actually think about what it is they are seeing and reading he forces us to think. the fact that hardly anyone that sees these advertisements on a daily bases, out on the street or in a different public area, tells us about what percentage of the things we see is actually getting processed or even questioned. This article goes really well with the project we did for the Barthes article because for that project we had to step back and really process that things that we were seeing. The kind of work that Burgin does is really the point of art; things that make us stop and think about what is going on around us. As a society we need to condition ourselves to step back and look around us, successful art does exactly that.

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Re: 3. Semiotics

Post by BritRollins » Thu Oct 14, 2010 8:47 am

Bernard Berenson, renowned art critic
and author of classic works such as Venetian Painters of
the Renaissance (1894), The Study and Criticism of Italian Art
(1901, 1902, 1915,) and Essays in Medieval Art, at the age
of 90 in the Borghese Gallery, Rome (1955).
Bernard Berenson (June 26, 1865 – October 6, 1959) was an American art historian specializing in the Renaissance. He was a major figure in pioneering art attribution and therefore establishing the market for paintings by the "Old Masters".
I appreciated Bernard’s work, it was beautiful. An artist’s work is only what initially gets my attention. As I researched Berenson I really enjoyed reading about his life and mostly the things he has said. Here are some of his well known quotes:
Between truth and the search for it, I choose the second.

Boast is always a cry of despair, except in the young it is a cry of hope.

Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.

Genius is the capacity for productive reaction against one's training.

I would I could stand on a busy corner, hat in hand, and beg people to throw me all their wasted hours.

Life has taught me that it is not for our faults that we are disliked and even hated, but for our qualities.

When everything else physical and mental seems to diminish, the appreciation of beauty is on the increase.

You can parody and make fun of almost anything, but that does not turn the universe into a caricature.

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