Eyeing A1

A look at newspaper front pages from around the country

Posts Tagged ‘Semiotics

Let’s think for ourselves

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Advertising is a perfect example of visual rhetoric. They get you to think about what they want. The advertisers are getting their message across. This topic came up while discussing Visual Culture when the topic gravitated toward anchorage. Anchorage is text within a picture that grounds the reader into following a train of thinking.

You can take an innocuous object, include text and there is life to it.

Obviously, there are times when you see an ad and think, ‘Well, that was just ridiculous.’

But think about every ad played during the Super Bowl. Doritos, Snickers and Bud Light all conveyed the message that their product is fun and funny. By enjoying their product we don’t have to take anything too seriously. Why? Because that’s what the advertisers told us.

In class, we discussed how text with a picture gives you guidance into what the sender is trying to say. But what if that text is wrong. I’ve seen in newspapers when a caption is wrong. Why do we have to rely on other to make own opinion?

A good exercise when it comes to advertising is to look at a picture without the text. Imagine what the picture is trying to say.

Here’s an ad from Dunkin Donuts. I cropped out the words to the ad so you can see just the picture by itself. The first thing I notice is the body placement of the people. They are doing ‘Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil,’ while sitting behind a table.

There are no drinks or food on the table. Just a small vase on each.

Next, I look at what the people wearing. They are all wearing green aprons. For anyone who has visited Starbucks, this is similar to what the Starbucks baristas wear.

Clearly, Dunkin’ Donuts is mocking Starbucks, but why? They are in competition with each other. DD caters to a different crowd than Starbucks. After seeing just the picture without the text, what do you think is the ad’s message.

… I’ll wait.

Here’s the entire ad.

So, DD took Starbucks ’employees’ and they are so loyal to their company that they won’t speak bad about the coffee even though DD has superior coffee. Awesome.

Good thing I don’t drink coffee.


Written by Susan Lulgjuraj

February 23, 2010 at 12:03 am

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

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It’s easy to think of William Blake as just a poet. His works have been read, scrutinized and studied for centuries. But just calling Blake a poet would be unfair. He understood the importance of multimodality and how telling the same story in different ways could lead to a deeper and more meaningful message.

Blake was an artist with words, images, and often, music. According to this article from Canada’s University Affairs, Blake set many of his poems to melodies.

While we do not have the melodies any longer, there are many people who have found their own music for his pieces. Here’s one example:

In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, the words can exist without the pictures or the music. There is still meaning to them, but it difficult to imagine how the pictures would exist without the words. Sure, the etchings would be open to amazing interpretation, but the words give the pictures meaning while giving the reader insight into what Blake thought when he wrote this.

The pictures also have a way of leaving a lasting impression as opposed to just reading black text on a white page. In Sean Hall’s This Means This, This Means That: A Guide to Semiotics, the prominence section becomes an interesting aspect.

There is a list of 31 words separated by a line. One word is highlighted in yellow and another has a strike through.

On the next page, Hall asks to recite as many words as you can remember.

Usually, the words that are different from others or the words with personal meanings are easily remembered. These words have more prominence than the others.

That’s what Blake does with his poems. He adds prominence.

The pictures provide the poems personality. One picture could also hit home more than others and therefore become personal to the reader, thus making the poem or just that plate more memorable and effective.

Written by Susan Lulgjuraj

February 17, 2010 at 9:58 pm