Representation & Roland Barthes Semiotics Structuralism (3)
Outline 1. Representation Representation and Production of Meaning Theories of Representation De Saussure Re-Considered: Contribution & Limitations De Saussure Re-Considered 2. Semiotics: Major principles in semiotic readings Sign systems: fashion as an example Sign systemsfashion as an example Semiotic reading (1): denotation and connationdenotation and connation Semiotic reading (2): first and second-order signification. (literal language and meta-language)first and second-order signification Myth today defined Myth 3. Examples: Images of Nature in some Landscape Paintings and AdsImages of Nature
What is Representation? Not Re-Presentation (, ) Representation means using language to say something meaningful about, or to represent, the world meaningfully, to people. (15) 1. Using language (system of representation); 2. To produce meanings (another system of representation) about (make connections among) things, and 3. To communicate them to some people.
What are the two systems of representation we use in representation (meaning production)? 1. Signs signifier (e.g. love I) 2. Conceptual System (pp. 17-18; e.g. love romantic love, puppy love, maternal love, etc.) frequently inseparable from the signified of our languages; Codes (pp. 21-22)
What s hidden in this stereogram Conceptual System Shapes formed because of 1) two- eye differences (wall-eyed; cross- eyed); 2) the gestalt laws of organization (e.g. figure and ground)
What s hidden in this stereogram ANSWER: BUNNY! http://www.billybear4kids.com/stereogram/bunny.html
What s this? What mental image (concept) does it correspond to?
Different Perspectives = Different Conceptual Systems
1. Conceptual System = the Context of a sign, which determines its meaning 2. Sign system– image or English letters
Two Systems at Work in Representation: What kind of room is this? A restaurant or a tea house? Signs: Red color, paper lantern, floor-to-ceiling windows, sofas, pillows, wood desk, bamboo room, etc.
The Lava Room From Star Nightclub http://www.creamnyc.com/
Representation= Meaning Production What makes the difference? Different conceptual frameworks, or conceptual systems. Different Languages Are these meanings absolute or relational? Why?
Meaning – Essential or Relational? I AM 1. I – no essence? 2. Meanings – one truer/better than the other? –produced by ourselves or a system? 1. I – no essence? 2. Meanings – one truer/better than the other? –produced by ourselves or a system? * NoteNote
Note: Relativism Is there an essential definition of our selves? e. g. / Self(-Definition) –not essential nor unchangeable; -- is relational (I am A implies I am not B). (i.e. binarist thinking may be at work.) -- is usu. determined by our value systems, if not given to or imposed on us by our society. -- can be contradictory, with so many conceptual systems we live in. Relational view of meaning is not relativism. Relativism: Everything is ok and nothing matters.
Theories of Representation Reflective approach – Some truth and functions to it (in communication, in knowledge acquisition) Representation as Re-Presentation Intentional approach – Can we decide the meanings of what we say? (p. 25) Representation as Self-Expression ( ) Constructivist approach – Things dont mean; we construct meanings about them by using different systems of representation. Representation as Construction: We dont speak language; language speaks us. (Activity 4)(Activity 4
De Saussure: Contribution & Limitations (pp. 32 – 35) Contributions to the Constructionist Theory of Representation Arbitrary relations between signifier and signified Meanings in language can never be fixed; they are open to changes by context (historical, social or personal). Langue vs. parole the social part of language; Limitations: too exclusive focus on language; Language is not a closed system. semiotics –the study of signs (languages in a broader sense)
Major principles 1. All the cultural products and activities read as process or results of signification. No meaning is inherent or natural. 2. There are more than one (arbitrary) relations between signifiers and signified. (iconic --resemblance, indexical --cause, symbolic -- arbitrary). 3. There are more than one level of meanings. denotation and connotation.
What kinds of signs are they? Iconic = airport = Church = crossroad Symbolic indexical
Sign System: Fashion as an Example Fashion codes (signs + concepts) (Textbook pp. 37-38) Fabric: Silk= feminine, denim= masculine, casual, cotton = comfortable, khaki= military, formal. skirt (+ silk)= feminine; jeans (+ cotton T- Shirt) =casual or masculine
Sign System: Rules of Selection and Combination All social practices as sign-systems and thus are open to cultural interpretation (or de-mystification). e.g. the meaning of a jacket defined by its contexts. e.g. the langue of clothes (selection & combination) System: a. blouse, shirt, T-shirt ; b. skirt, trousers sentence: 1. blouse + skirt + high heeled shoes X snickers 2. blouse + jeans + snickers X not for concert
Fashion and Myth: from denotation to connotation; description to prescription... Mist gold, pure gold, and black gold are all flashing in full glamour since most collections are heavily weighted toward evening cloths with an ostentatious dressing chic. If gold is too much for you, dont worry, for here comes the backup that makes you in style as well, the color of camel! As usual, camel has always been playing its role of warming up the winter, which has been so elegantly carried out by the blazing gold as it is this year. (Sophie Ko)
Fashion: from language to myth Leather, of course, is something that cant be left out in each winter. Fur, for sure, is a must, especially for collars, As for trousers, they really do need to be slim- fitting and skinny-legged to be chic this season! myth: (Sophie Ko)
Semiotic reading (1): Denotation and Connotation e.g. Panzani pasta 1. Denotation: the real objects in the scene The signifiers: these same objects photographed. 2. Connotation: half-opened bag spilling out onto the table freshness, the domestic 3. Italianness (red green white) 4. a total culinary service 5. Arrangement like still life painting
a signifier + signified = Semiotic reading (2): Different levels of signification: primary signification & secondary signification primary signification: Secondary signification sign (full)- -denotation Sign ( empty )/ Form + content = sign --connotation
Signifier + signified = ([home]) Semiotic reading (2): Different levels of signification: primary signification & secondary signification primary signification: Secondary signification sign (full)- -denotation Sign ( empty )/ Form + content = sign --connotation: Homepage, country cottage, etc. Barthes examples: rose, black pebble.
Signifier + signified = Young negro, in uniform, saluting, With eyes uplifted, fixed on the tricolor Myth primary signification: Secondary signification sign (full) denotation ([Black solider saluting a French flag]) Patriotism/submission Sign ( empty )/ Form + content = sign --connotation: France as a Great empire, loved by all her sons. colonialism militariness
Myth : distortion, naturalizing The form(on the secondary level) does not suppress the original meaning, it only impoverishes it, it puts it at a distance... myth hides nothing: its function is to distort, not to make disappear Target: Myth has an imperative, buttonholing character:...it is I whom it has come to seek.... For this interpellant speech is at the same time a frozen speech: at the moment of reaching me, it suspends itself, turns away and assumes the look of a generality; it stiffens, it makes itself looks natural and innocent