“The Photographic Message”


    Roland Barthes’ semiotic theory focuses on a structured system of signs, specifically photographs, as social phenomena. His theory emphasizes how these signs are codes of cultural knowledge and ideologies. In order to fully comprehend all of the implied meanings in an image, one must understand the cultural background that is revealed to the viewer. According to Barthes’ theory, messages are composed through denotation and connotation. Denotation is the literal meaning or reference of a sign, whereas connotation is the meanings suggested or implied by a sign. Therefore, a photographic image by itself without a sign or code appears to be purely denotative. However, Barthes states that the denotated status of a photo “has every change of being mythical” (Barthes, 1977). His use of the word “mythical” is pertaining to the characteristic of a photograph that represents and conveys cultural ideological norms. As a result, there is a photographic inconsistency in which there is a co-existence of denotative and connotative messages in an image.

     Connotation is basically the obvious symbols that viewer sees when first looking at the picture. Denotation is the more significant meaning of analysis of the photo. For example, in Helen Levitts’ A Boy Drawing on the Sidewalk, one would immediately see a small boy drawing with chalk on a sidewalk, dressed in a coat and boots. The more significant meaning of the photograph, is to capture the lifestyle and hardships of people in New York City during the Great Depression. There are modes of connotation used to identify cultural ideologies and messages within a photo. The first mode is perceptive, where we automatically categorize what we perceive. The second mode is cognitive, where we recognize things that we know about, depending on one’s knowledge. And the last mode of connotation is ideological or ethical, where we recognize values that are depicted such as beauty ideals and fashion. Connotation relies on the historical and cultural knowledge known by the viewer; therefore misunderstandings rise as a result of different meanings due to one’s knowledge.

Published by ArtProdigy

Hello! Welcome to my blog! This is where I will be posting my recent and non recent artwork, talking about my experiences as an up and coming artist, what inspires me as an artist and person, posting inspiring content for you lovely readers... ooorr if you're just simply looking for loads of fun crafts and projects you've come to the right place. As I've previously mentioned, I am an artist... inspired by the water, color, and often depicting scenes which displays the absence of human presence in my work. I also dabble in graphic design and have recently explored fluid painting, which I have found to be quite fascinating and might I mention, HIGHLY addictive. You never know what you're going to get with fluid paintings until it all comes together in the end. I've referred to my myself as an art prodigy on several occasions... hence the name of my blog, *wink wink*. I don't refer to myself as an art prodigy in the sense that I know all that there is or that I'm super pretentious... because I'm quite opposite. I refer to myself as an art prodigy because I ENJOY learning all that there is about art and creating. I love to be able to even research a certain subject, learn all that I can, and then try to master it. Sometimes I've done just that. I like the idea, the self gratitude of being able to say, "Hey! I did it!" I am constantly working to prove it to myself. Art is such a wonderful thing. It eases stress, liberates you, sets a mood, inspires, allows you to self reflect, allows the ability to be expressive, and what I like most is that you can do whatever you want. It comes from you, your experiences, your imagination, your inspiration. Who wouldn't want to explore that? With all of that being said, I sincerely hope that you enjoy my blog on the days to come. If you'd like to stay connected, please feel free to follow me at my social media sites below to stay updated or just to see what I've been up to: Twitter: @Leawayartisans Facebook: www.facebook.com/bwalstonart

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: