Lecture 2 Semiotics Symbolism

Outcomes, Recognise the use of signs and symbols. Define the discuss signifies and signified elements within artefacts. Apply symbolism to practice.


The study of signs and symbols, we read the signs that make up an image and then we look at the significance of the signs.

Saussures theory of interpretation

Barthes’s two orders of signification.

Sign Signifier – denotation

– Connotation how is it portrayed. The interaction that occurs when the sign meets the feelings or emotions of the readers.

“The connection between the signifier and the signified is so completely learned at an early age”.

Myth – A cultures way of thinking about, a way of conceptualising or understanding it. Myths are socially, politically and historically constructed, they change with time.

Jan Van Eyck

The Arnolfini Wedding – youtube






write a supporting statement which analyses your process and outcome.

Lecture 1 Representation Defined

Notes from the lecture. Representation as a critical theory to investigate the culture world through language systems. “Representation is an essential part of the process by which meaning is produced and exchanged between members of a culture”. “It does involve the use of language, signs and images which stand for or represent things”.

Representation, A mediated process – encoders/practitioners as gatekeepers/filters.

Representation as influential – gender/ethnicity/class etc – language systems that are used to become expressive of that culture.

Stereotypes labels and schemas, Ideology a system of ideas and hidden underlying messages/themes.

Questions, What are your ideas and believes? How do they appear in your work?

We were asked at the end of the lecture to comment on the lecture express any views that we have, try to make them critical or evaluative, not of the content but of our thoughts on the issues. Reflect on been a practitioner/theoretician. Identify a representational issue or group. Find images/moving image to express your area or interest e.g. representations.

Here is my response.


Representation is very important in a modern society in my opinion, we need to be able to make quick decisions in certain circumstances. When you have a language system of stereotypes, labels and schemas it is clear to me that they usually work. Over time they have developed and they are usually correct however there is certain instances were they don’t. It’s the same as “don’t read a book by it’s cover” you can usually tell if a book is going to interest you from the cover but every now and then there will be a hidden gem, I think the same rules apply to stereotypes and labels.

As a Graphic Designer I think it is important to go along with stereotypes as you may face obvious problems with ineffective advertisements etc. Stereotyping can have problems of its own, people can receive the wrong message or even get offended. This can sometimes do more damage than ever thought, it can cause people to single themselves out from one another e.g. higher and lower class. Whether or not people believe it to be wrong I think it is necessary.

This ideology did not happen on purpose, it is something that has developed and progressed over time. It has now become a major part of society and generally people use labels and stereotypes whether or not they intend to. With these reasons alone I do believe that, I as a Designer need to learn and understand how to show and progress these hidden messages and themes in my work to create a greater impact.

Representational issues and groups,

I think the big representational issues lay within upper and lower class and gender, this has for many years now been a huge problem. The whole idea that one person is a bigger and better person because of the assets they carry, by which I mean money, houses and clothes etc. This is not the case but there is this eagerness to live the dream similar to the American Dream stereotype.

Concerning the gender issues we face at the current moment in time the labels given to each gender still exist in design because they work. For example become a man is something that is always been pushed into young male adults and there is design work to go with it.

Apothecary 87

On the other hand for the women it there is completely different take, I don’t think there is an issue here I’m just identifying the labels given to each gender and reflecting on the labels each gender are given.


Here is an example of how using these language systems can cause problems but it also shows the difference between adverts aimed at men and women.

Pre Term Task

Just before the course started we was given a pre term task. The task required us to Read the extract provided (a review of two books): Fredric Jameson’s “Towards a New Awareness of Genre” from Science Fiction Studies, Volume 9 (1982).

    1. What are the key points Jameson makes in this article?
    2. What does he say about genre and its problems?
    3. What is his answer to this?
    4. Why are Asimov’s stages theory (of American SF) “attractive”, do you think?
    5. Do you think genre has changed since the 1980s and if so, how and why?
  1. We recommend that you read Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder – (any edition will do) e.g. (1995) London; Phoenix House. It is essentially a novel, but it takes you through all the great philosophies in an approachable and enjoyable way which will help tremendously with the “bigger ideas” we are discussing this year.

Here is my response;

What are the key points Jameson makes in this article?

Maturation in recent years of Science Fiction has evolutionary leaped from the pulps to “high culture”.

The most appropriate review of such a volume will naturally enough be an indication of its limits and its omissions – something that is all the more embarrassing since the critical anthology systematically corrects a good many of these last in advance: thus Parrinder’s deliberate avoidance of any history of the genre.

Single exemplifications of genres do not exist, genre needs to be recreated not removed.

SF in particular should be seen as practical recipes rather than put into categories.

He has always been attracted to stages Asimov’s stages theory of SF.

SF: Its Criticism and Teaching is not the book to consult for historical information about the development of SF; but such interests will in any case be more intelligent and production after the study of a book like this.

SF: A Critical Guide remedy this deflect as well: Raymond William’s powerful account of the revival of the utopian impulse and of the utopian literature gives us a very significant historical marker.

What does he say about genre and its problems?

Princeton UP 1971 was perhaps the first powerful expression of this newer generic awareness – that pure textual exemplifications of a single genre do not exist; and this, not merely because pure textual exemplifications of anything are rare, but well beyond that, because texts always come to been at the intersection of several genres and emerge from the tensions in the latter’s multiple force fields.

What is his answer to this?

This discovery does not mean the collapse of genre criticism but rather its renewal: we need specifications of the individual “genres” today more than ever, not in order to drop specimens into the box bearing those labels, but rather to map our own coordinates on the basis of those fixed stars and to triangulate this specific given textual movement.

Why are Asimov’s stages of theory “ attractive” do you think?

I think that Asimov’s stages of theory are attractive because they work, anything that has grown or changed through time usually shows you a clear time line of events. For example through his theory we can see that SF itself had its own ideals at each period in time. Things are always going to change and for something we create it is always attractive to see how it changes.

Do you think genre has changed since the 1980’s and if so, how and why?

I do think that genre has changed as all things do over time but I don’t think it has changed much. I think there has been more categories (genres) created to allow us to be more specific with our choosing of novels. When so many stories can be placed in more than one genre a new specific one has to be created. I think this has allowed many more genres to be created.

I have started to read the book but I haven’t quite finished it yet.