Signs and Codes
Signs and codes in visual arts are described as the means for providing particular information and mood. People understand signs and codes in visuals as living in one and the same society we have common rules for interpreting those signs and codes that helps us understand the surrounding world (Quin 2006, p. 9). Codes on the pictures help us see its meaning as codes “provide the rules that generate the signs” (Smith 2005, p. 235) In other words, signs are “phenomena which represent other phenomena” (Johansen & Larsen 2002, p. 25). Looking at the picture it is possible to define the sign any code there, any part of the picture. This is possible because signs do not have prototypical properties, like a tree or a sea. Signs also have specific functions that help us interpret those correctly. Therefore, signs may be used for referencing to particular content, for expressing or communicating views and attitudes, for expressing particular meaning, for explaining the main idea of the visual, for convicting and persuading others or for making contact (Fourie 2004, p. 336).
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Signs in the Image and Their Correlative Meaning
The image we are to interpret is the picture which shows a man and a woman in passion. They embrace one another and a man is kissing a woman’s neck. Neither man nor woman were familiar for any member of the picture, therefore, we came to the conclusion that notify particular is described and the theme may be related to any problem without reference to a concrete person. The possible signs are closed eyes, open lips, clouds on the backgrounds, half-naked woman, the position of the bodies, the dark colors which may express the night and the passion. The woman’s head thrown back and the man’s body under a woman in combination with other signs help the viewer to consider the picture as a passionate scene where two lowers are about to express their feelings. After short communication, we came to this conclusion and all agreed on the signs and the theme of the picture.
The new sign added to the image and the new meaning that was created
As it has already been mentioned, the main idea of the picture seemed to be passion and love. The changes of some particular codes and signs may lead to the change of the meaning (Biocca 1991. p. 24). However, we have decided to change the meaning slightly having added the picture of the perfume with the signature “euphoria”. The signs which pointed at passion because of love have changed the meaning. How, the passion is based on one of five human feelings, the smell. This decision was made to create the new meaning of the picture. How, looking at the picture people see the perfume image and understand the main reason for the passion of a man and a woman at the picture because of their smell, not based on love. The meaning is slightly changed, but this shift is important in vision of the reasons of the passion and therefore, the main idea of the whole visual is changed. We have considered such interpretation as one of the most effective changes suitable in this case.
Biocca, F 1991, Television and Political Advertising: Signs, codes, and images, Routledge, London.
Fourie, PJ 2004, Media Studies: Institutions, theories, and issues, Juta and Company Ltd, New York.
Johansen, JD & Larsen, SE 2002, Signs in Use: An Introduction to Semiotics, Routledge, London.
Quin, R 2006, Reading the visuals in the middle years, Curriculum Press, New York.
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Smith, KL 2005, Handbook of Visual Communication: Theory, Methods, and Media, Routledge, London.