Crucial phrases/sentences/ideas from essay:

  • Linguists refuse the status of language to all communication by analogy, linguists not the only ones to be suspicious of linguistic nature of the image
  • Image considered re-representation – ultimately resurrection – antipathetic to the lived experience
  • Image thought to be weak in respect of meaning
  • Extremely rudimentary system in comparison with language and those who think that signification cannot exhaust the image’s ineffable richness

    In relation to the Panzani Advert (all advertising):

  • Three messages –
    1. Linguistic – denotational and connotational
    2. Coded iconic message (symbolic) – cultural? Connoted
    3. Non-coded iconic literal message  – perceptual? Denoted
  • 2 & 3 share the same substance – what right do have to separate them? (no one can separate the ‘word’ from meaning from except through metalanguage (description using words) But Barthes argues the naive innocent meaning, if at all possible to separate, helps us to identify the cultural symbolism we are being sold in the advert
  • Literal message supports the symbolic message

    In relation to No 1 -Linguistic message 

  • Present in every image today, mass media – title, caption, (hashtags)
  • We are a civilisation of writing
  • Neither its position or length are pertinent
  • Anchorage and relay
  • All images are ‘polysemy’  – a ‘floating chain’ of signifieds
  • Presents a question of meaning – dysfunction recuperated by society as a tragic or poetic game (pg 37)
  • Fixer needed for floating chain of signifieds in such a way as to counter the terror of uncertain signs: linguistic messages one of these techniques
  • What is it – text tells us, helps to identify elements of the scene
  • Words help to choose correct level of perception, focus gaze and understanding
  • Linguistic message helps to guide identification and perception
  • Banishes possible signified mis-interpretations (according to advertiser)
  • Advertising anchorage may be ideological
  • Remote controls the reader, ‘subtle’ dispatching of meaning, selective elucidation
  • Metalanguage applied only to certain of the signs possible (dismissing others less desirable for the advertiser)
  • Anchorage is a control – repressive value
    “at this level the morality and ideology of a society are above all invested” (This is probably the most tricky phrase for me to comprehend in relation to what is being said overall but I think I’m getting it – e.g.”Because you’re worth it”.)
  • Anchorage commonly found in press and adverts
  • Relay less common (in fixed images but crucial in films where script advances story told by moving images)  – found in cartoons where image and text stand in a complimentary relationship

    In relation to No. 3  – the denoted image (literal, non-coded)

  • Never do we see a literal image not attached to symbolism (symbolism indoctrinated by culture as we grow)
  • Characteristics of a literal image cannot be substantial only relational, i.e. to the symbols it signifies
  • Literal image is what is left when the signs have been deleted – not actually possible
  • Denoted image an absence of meaning – leading to possibilities full of meaning??
  • Denoted image first degree of intelligibility, virtual by reason of its poverty
  • We all perceive more than just the letter
    (apple is never just a round red or green fruit with sap and skin and flesh and seeds – food, juice, sweetness or not, growth, health, nature all possibly signified and more)
  • Innocent of meaning, naive = denoted image – if possible (not)
  • “only the photograph is able to transmit the (literal) information without forming it by means of discontinuous signs and rules of transformation” (39) Really? Drawing even when denoted is coded….(how? by the style? the ability? Is that not true of a photograph?)
  • A photograph cannot intervene, drawing can
  • There is no drawing without style
  • The ethic of a photograph not the same as of a drawing
  • In a photograph the mechanical is a guarantee of objectivity (Really? I’m not sure about that ….Isn’t that just the perception?)
  • Intervention – framing, distance, lighting, focus, speed – all connotation (cultural, symbolic)
  • The type of consciousness the photograph involves is unprecedented (here I am reminded of what it must have been like to see photographs when they were first invented, magical)
  • The denoted image  naturalises the symbolic message  – it innocents the semantic artifice of connotation, which is extremely dense in advertising
  • Important historical paradox; the more technology develops the more it provides the means of masking the constructed meaning under the appearance of the given meaning 

All notes from Roland Barthes, Rhetoric of the Image, Visual Culture Reader, Ed. Jessica Evans and Stuart Hall, pgs 33-40, 1999, London, SAGE Publications. Image – Page 37



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