Presentation on theme: "Semiotics: Roland Barthes and Advertisements. Outline Major principles in semiotic readings Sign systems: fashion as an example Semiotic reading."— Presentation transcript:
Semiotics: Roland Barthes and Advertisements
Outline Major principles in semiotic readings Sign systems: fashion as an example Semiotic reading (1): denotation and connation Semiotic reading (2): first and second-order signification. (literal language and meta- language)
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 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?
Sign System: difference and the two axes. All social practices as sign-systems and thus are open to cultural interpretation (or de-mystification). e.g. meaning of Jacket defined by its context. 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 “... 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, don’t 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, but never has it ever been so elegantly carried out by the blazing gold like this year. “ (Sophie Ko)
Examples of languages used in fashion “ Leather, of course, is something that can ’ t 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! ” (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. “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. ” Barthes’ examples: rose, black pebble. colonialism militariness
“Myth”: distortion, naturalizing regression from meaning to form, from the linguistic sign to the mythical signifier....the form does not suppress the 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
Three positions in reading a myth or an ad 1. producer of advertisement -- focus on an empty signifier, let the concept fill the form of the myth without ambiguity; use a simple system of equation, where the signification becomes literal again: the Negro who salutes = French imperiality 2. reader of advertisement: an inextricable whole made of meaning and form, amazed at its greatness, absorb its messages willingly.
Three positions in reading a myth or an ad 3. Critic: clearly distinguishes the meaning and the form, and consequently the distortion which the one imposes on the other, I undo the signification of the myth, the saluting Negro becomes the alibi of French imperiality.
elements of an ad. 1. the slogan (or copy) 2. the visual image--with the slogan, it implies a story 3. supplementary --color, design == where the product, the words are placed – colour, – size and position, – texture – celebrity endorsement
Ads’ languages -- from Ways of Seeing The romantic use of nature (leaves, trees, water) to create a place where innocence can be found. The posed taken up to denote stereotypes of women: serene mothers (madonna), free wheeling secretary (actress, king's mistress), perfect hostess (spectator-owner's wife), sex-object (Venus, nymph surprised), etc. The special sexual emphasis given to women's legs.
Ads’ languages -- from Ways of Seeing (2) The materials particularly used to indicate luxury: engraved metal, furs, polished leather, etc. The physical stance of men conveying wealth and virility. The equation of drinking and success. The man as knight (horseman) become motorist.
Examples for analysis: identity 1. “ 腦袋轉個彎﹐發現原來的你並不是你﹐發 現另一種 Style, GD 85.” Signs: book stacks, darkness, fire, silver. 2. 這麼毛﹐一定有空洞。 Signs: office space, meeting, short-haired men and women; 慢著﹐讓絲逸歡來改寫結局。 Signs: play sign, cartoon sign, swinging the hair left and right.
Examples for analysis: identity (2) 3. 無限年輕﹐統一冰紅茶。 Sign: 天山天池； ballet skating; red vs. white ice 4. 凝望你﹐把我的世界打開﹐讓你進來。 Samsung, 讓夢想成真。 Signs: castle, well-ornamented stairway, pallace-like mansion, evening gown. 5. 真情相待﹐一生相隨﹐中華汽車。
Key words for Structualist and Semiotic approaches: I. Following language as a model II. Disclosing the deep/basic structure of a text, which is a (combination or selection) system of meaning composed of basic elements such as:
-- binaries, or semiotic rectangles, -- roles/actant and functions, or narrateme, -- story and discourse, -- narrator- narratee, -- metaphor and metonymy, -- grammatical parts of speech, or lexemes, -- signs or signification on different levels (signifier and signified).
Questions: Reductive? Disregarding meaning, textual complexities, or the author’s intention? De-centering, dehumanizing? Do we really think in terms of binaries?
Connections: How is our social existence modeled after language as a system of relations? –From work to text (textuality); –From identity to system of relations; –From myth to ideology; –“Myth -- the complex system of images and beliefs which a society constructs in order to sustain and authenticate its sense of being.” –From structuralism/semiotics to postmodernism/poststructuralism
Assignments for next week 1. First paper: at least four pages. 2. Summary Quiz 1; 3. M Butterfly Act I 4. Textbook pp. 75 – Daffodils poems