Sounds super complex eh? well it is. To cut it short, Semiotics is ‘the study of signs’. The first thing that pops into your head are signs that we see on a daily basis such as road signs, but do you really study them day to day? Though there is much more to it, identifying the obvious is barely scratching the surface. Photos and typical art such as paintings and sculptures? That too, but semiotics encompasses all of these aspects throughout life including every form of language in today’s society. Ferdinand Saussure and Charles Sander Pierce where the main contributors in the founding and development of this study and when you really think about it, it’s amazing how everything can be perceived in so many ways by an individual.
What is shown in the image above?
Was your answer a ‘Pipe’?
Sorry to tell you but you are wrong, it is a representation of a pipe and it is evident in the caption underneath written in french translating to “This is not a pipe”. Painted my Rene Magritte 1929. Do we believe what we are seeing? Or the denying language underneath? Magritte seems to be challenging the responder conveying a rejection of the presentation, you cannot easily deny the painting is a pipe or what it is representing.
How would you read this sign?
A sign can be divided into two categories of depiction, the Signifier which is what is evident within the source whether it be an image, video, sound or book and the Signified meaning what the ‘Signifier’ conveys which can be a multiple of things depending on an individual’s experiences
The image denotes a person shown on a railway track with an oncoming train. It looks pretty simple but if you really think about what may be happening, so many situations would be doing laps in your brain. To me, it’s showing a person on the tracks with a train heading straight for them, it gives off a sense of hopelessness see how close the train is and how helpless the man or woman is and I think this is what would be typically interpreted by an individual first seeing the image.
Do you know if the train is heading towards or away from the person on the tracks? The person may have climbed down onto the track intentionally, we do not know the emotional stability of the person. If the image was taken by another individual, you would think there would be other senses of urgency rather than to grab their camera and take a snapshot. Therefore humanity could be questioned immensely in the actions taken if this situation is in fact life threatening and no aid is evident, has technology got the better of us? You can never be too sure when interpreting a sign no matter what format.
Tell me what you perceive from this image, or post an image and tell me what you see and I will respond with my interpretation.