Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Roland Barthes, "The Rhetoric of the Image."

Having read Roland Barthes' famous essay, "The Rhetoric of the Image" I have to confess that I found it an extremely challenging read which was full of language which was over my head but I will give a stab at relating to you what I have learnt. In this essay he emphasizes his view on advertising, how important it is and what it conveys. He speaks about how different imagery and adverts can read differently to a variety of people as everyone's perceptions are unique according to ones experiences. He uses the example of Italiancity and goes on to explain how the italian citizen from the advert may not realise that it represents "Italy" due to the touristic like symbolism. The essay is spilt up into explaining three messages. The first is the linguistic, fixed message, an image which directly relates to what the image is saying. Secondly, the connotated message, this is when you have the correct knowledge and skills to fully understand and interpret something. Lastly, the denoted message which basically states what it actually is, a raw form.

For this next assignment the task is to choose 3 random images and to test the theory of polysemy which Barthes covers in his essay. Polysemy is having multiple (a diversity of) meanings, all images are polysemous. By taking these images to a selection of people and asking them to observe and interpret a story from these images it should back up what Barthes says about how advertisements portray a lot of information and connotations which can be read by some people but not all and so this highlights the importance of gaining a fixed meaning. I am highly intrigued to see if my experiment will work and whether by slowly adding in other factors such as a fourth image or even text if this will result in people coming up with the same story.

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