Semiotics: The Language, Symbols & Signs of…

Semiotics

Semiotics is the theory of signs, taken from the Greek word semeiotikos which means ‘an interpreter of signs’. Signing is vital to human existence as it underlies all forms of human communication.

Icon

The signifier (denotation) is perceived as resembling or imitating the signified (connotation). A pictorial representation, a photograph, an architect’s model of a building, or a star chart are all icons because they imitate or copy an aspect of their subject.

Index

An index has a factual or casual connection that points towards its object. Wet streets are a sign that it has rained recently. Smoke signifies fire. A nest image is an icon of a nest but an index of a bird.

Symbol

A symbol has an arbitrary relationship between the signifier and the signified. The interpreter understands the symbol through previous knowledge and experience – it must be learned and agreed upon. Spoken or written words are symbols. There is no reason that the word ‘cat’ should represent a cat instead of a tree.

Metasymbol

A symbol whose meaning transcends the tangible realm of simple one-to-one relationships. History, culture, and tradition all play a role in creating metasymbols, such as a dove with an olive branch as a symbol for peace. For certain audiences, religious and magical signs and symbols take on these properties.

The Language, Symbols & Signs of…

Brief: To research, visually explore and investigate a form of communication. In this project you should explore visual language and how personal/collective visual signifiers are communicated in relation to meaning and audience (e.g. semiotics). You should also develop an awareness of content and visual hierarchies, and develop research and self-evaluation skills.

The language of…

  • Language is a system of communication both written and visual which when used in various ways conveys a message. Some languages are read consciously or subconsciously. There are many examples of visual systems/matter that utilise a language of their own such as smoke signals and flowers. The messages communicated can be life-saving when denoting ‘friend or foe’ or as everyday as a team affiliation.

The Signs of…

  • A sign is an object, quality or event whose presence or occurrence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else. A gesture of action used to convey information or an instruction. We scrutinise each other’s faces all the time consciously and subconsciously looking for signs of agreement, affection, mistrust, interest, etc.
  • When a comet shoots across the sky ancient people saw this as a sign of doom, whilst others interpreted it as a prophecy of a forthcoming Saviour King. More mundane signs guide us every day and help us navigate ur journeys from A to B. There are universal signs (signage) and personally significant signs whether linked to relationships, profession or belief systems.

The Symbol of…

  • A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, object, or relationship. Symbols allow people to go beyond what is known or seen by creating links between otherwise very different concepts and experiences. Symbols are people, objects, events, designs, places and are at the pinnacle of communication, what is associated with them carries the impact of the idea. An example of fast evolving symbols are emojis, being refined and expanded on all the time.

On the brief a list of 30 forms of communication were provided, 10 examples each for language, signs and symbols. From this list I have chosen to investigate the option ‘body language: posture; attraction; flirting; tattoos and/or body modifications’ found within the section ‘the language of…’

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