A Picture Worth 1000 Words

A Picture Worth 1000 Words


5 thoughts on “A Picture Worth 1000 Words

  1. Joe Griffin Semiotics & Ideologies: Decoding the Self-Portrait

    In visual culture there are numerous theories that explain how we view our world. Two of these theories are semiotics and ideology. In this paper I will be discussing these theories and how they can be seen throughout the world. In addition, I will apply these theories to a picture that a fellow classmate has posted in order to explain how I feel this photo represents them as a person.
    The picture that is displayed above was a still life made by a fellow classmate, which I will use my understanding of semiotics and ideology to analyze. In the picture one sees a starfish, a gourd, a sand dollar, and a seashell necklace. From what I have learned from semiotics I would say that this person is extremely artistic, enjoys being on the beach, as well as enjoys making various crafts. Due to the bright and colorful items in this picture one could presume this person to have a bright personality. In addition, as stated earlier, I can tell the beach is very dear to her.
    One theory that is used in visual culture is that of ideology. Ideology can be summed up as “a set of ideas about how society is and ought to be”. This concept can best be thought of as a group of standards, which may change, that people live by. For example, before World War II women believed that their place was to stay at home, instead of having careers outside of the home, in order to take care of the house and kids. Due to there being a shortage of men being in the workforce, because of being sent to war, women were needed to work in factories and mills. This resulted in the start of an ideology shift.
    Today this view has changed and more women are joining the work force. However in some cultures, such as the Middle East and many Asian cultures, women are not allowed to work and are expected to exclusively take care of the household. For instance in American culture, although there has a dramatic ideology shift this is not a shift that is supported in our society as a whole. There are still people today who have “old fashioned values” in regards to the role of a woman as a “stay at home mom”. Due to the way that society has changed throughout the years, as well as the economy going through a something, more families are requiring both the man and woman to work in order to be able to provide financial stability for their household. Regardless of how anyone views this role it is often required for a woman to work in order to maintain financial stability.
    Another concept that is used in visual culture is semiotics. Merriam-Webster defines semiotics as “a general philosophical theory of signs and symbols that deals especially with their function in both artificially constructed and natural languages and comprises syntactics, semantics, and pragmatics”. In short, this means that semiotics is how symbols and signs are used, as well as their meanings, in our society. For semiotics there are three sections which consist of the signifier, the signified, and the sign. A signifier is image, word, symbol etc. that represents a particular idea. The signified is what is represented by the signifier. The signified can change from person to person and even from culture to culture. One example of this is the American word nine and the German word, which is spelled similar but sounds the same in talking, nein. When most Americans hear this word they automatically envision the number nine. However, when most Germans hear this word they understand it as someone saying no. A sign is simply a combination of the signifier and the signified. Here is an example of semiotics that is used in today’s world. Often a red octagon, in this instance the signifier, is represented as a STOP sign.
    A further example of semiotics is that of Rosie the Riveter, which was used during World War II, to encourage women joining the workforce. In this example the signifiers is that of the Rosie the Riveter poster. The signified is the encouragement for women to enter the workplace, which is represented by the poster.
    These symbols can also be viewed differently between cultures. For example, Americans view a crib as a bed for a baby, which also allows the child to have a sense of independence. However in some cultures, such as Asian cultures, they view a crib as putting a child in a cage. Many Asian countries focus on teaching their family to be interdependent as a family unit whereas Americans primarily focus on independence.
    Semiotics and ideology are both vital to visual culture. These theories explain why we, as people, associate varying actions and symbols together. Even though I stand by my analysis of this portrait, I understand that the creator of this image might have meant something entirely different. In this paper I have given examples how semiotics and ideology are viewed in one society as well as how they are different throughout cultures. It is important for people, both as citizens and a society as a whole, to realize that just because a society views a concept in a different way does not automatically make them wrong in their thinking.

    Howells, R. (2013). Visual culture. (2nd ed.). Malden, MA: Polity Press.
    “semiotics.” 1. Merriam-Webster. 11th ed. 2003. 1131. Print.

  2. Matthew Perez-Rex:Semiotics and ideology:Decoding the self portrait Every piece of art has meaning behind the work. At first look you may just see a soup can, but what that soup can may represent may just astonish you. To you it could just mean food, but to the artist it can represent hard time and so many emotions. There is no doubt that visual culture has semiotics hidden inside it. Also ideology can be found in it. These two factors are both detrimental to visual culture. In this paper there will be a break down of another student photograph and what you can learn about them just from a few objects. As the saying goes a picture is worth a thousand words.
    Visual culture today has both semiotics and ideology within it. A general meaning of semiotics is what symbols and words represent. An easy way to see this is when you see an American flag you do not just think that it is a piece of fabric with some lines and stars on it, but you think of a free country and that those thirteen stripes are for the thirteen colonies and the fifty stars are for the fifty state in that free country. Also when you use a name for an object you do not see just a few letters but what the object is that the word represents. Also we can ideology is what a nation or a particular aspect of someone may represent who they are and some information about them. For example when you see a group of people at Comic Con it is a safe bet that those people enjoy some form of fictional world, whether that is comic books, video, games, or shows. Furthermore, these two aspects can be seen in modern visual culture and are detrimental to it.
    Today objects and words have many aspects they can represent. Both semiotics and ideology in many different ways can be very useful tools in visual culture. If you look at pieces of art work with words in it you do not just see a few lines or letters but what they words are telling you. So if you see the words “your country needs you” with a man in a top hat pointing at you in some red, white, and blue cloths you are able to decipher with the knowledge that a war is going that this man wants you to help fight the war and with his patriotic American flag suit you are able to infer that he is fighting for the United States. This method of using symbiotic and ideology is important for visual culture to influence our ideas or persuade us to buy, join, or do anything that they want. It can also in a more basic idea allow us to describe an object like a dog without using a picture of a dog. Since the word dog, even though it does not represent the animal in any way, can be able to represent anything we feel it should. Therefore, we are able to look at a few key aspects of random items.
    We are able to look at just a few objects inside a person’s house and can learn so much about that person. In the picture I used I was able to infer that this particular person enjoys the ocean do to the factors of the shells, shell necklaces, sand dollar, and starfish. The starfish itself can tell you that this person is playful or energetic person. This can be inferred to the positions the arms are in and how it is holding on to the edge of the vase. This represents a person that likes to party do to the waving motion of the arms and how it seems to be just hanging on in a fun and playful nature. The vase seems to be new but is suppose to look old showing that this person has more of an old fashion taste in furniture. There is also a ring with an integrant design and appears to be old and with the shell necklace we are able to infer that the person like to wear jewelry. We are able to tell so many things about this person from so few objects.
    In conclusion we are able to use symbiosis and ideology in visual culture in many ways. We can use symbiosis to allow use to see object by the use of words. Ideology is detrimental to us so we can use symbols to represent nations or other groups of people. Both of these are used in visual culture in many ways to allow us to see more on what the artist is trying to allow us to see. The picture I picked out I was able to infer that they are outgoing, playful, and has a taste for an old fashion style. We are able to know so much about one person just from so few items.

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