Semiotics and Meaning-Making
Overview : Choose one of the following questions. For all of them, you need to choose texts which enable you to answer the question effectively and around which you can construct an interesting argument. Depending on the question, you will need to account for the representational metafunction and at least one other, or all three metafunctions if you wish.
You should include original versions of the texts or clear reproductions. You can either place these in the body of the essay where they arise in discussion, or together at the end in an Appendix (decide which presentation best suits your essay). In either case, number and label the texts and refer to them this way (eg Figure 1: Advertisement for soap). Your chosen texts may be the same as for your tutorial presentation, or may be different. If the same, you will obviously need to be treating them in greater breadth and in greater depth. Note that a common-sense 'reading' of a visual text which does not effectively use course concepts will not pass. It is essential that you demonstrate a technical understanding of the systems and their features and realizations in relation to the specific metafunctions. You must support your analysis with effective reading from the course, including the text book and at least four additional sources, from either additional set course readings or readings you have found yourself. These need to be academic references, not just lists of websites where you have found your images, and not just general/popular discussions of your topic. Note also that I may take a copy of your work and use it as a model for future classes; please let me know if you do not want me to do this.
1. Websites are a critical public interface for most organisations and businesses. Take two sites for the 'same' product/idea/service and compare how visual semiotic resources are used to construct the identity of that site. You must address all three metafunctions. You may compare only the opening home pages or consider further layers of the site.
2. Advertising is renowned for its creative use of visual resources. Take three instances of one ad campaign (3 print ads, for example; or 2 print ads and one dynamic ad, etc) and explain what visual semiotic resources are foregrounded to make that campaign effective. You must address all three metafunctions. NB: You may not analyse campaigns for Coca Cola or Dove Beauty products!
3. Magazines have been a ubiquitous feature of the media landscape since the early 20th Century. Over that time, many things have changed - or not! Either (a) compare a former and current version of the same magazine, identifying what has changed metafunctionally over that time period, or (b) compare two current magazines in terms of how semiotic resources are used to construct a unique persona for each, or (c) compare a print version of a magazine with its online version. You must address all three metafunctions. You may focus only on the covers or address the covers plus one or two content elements.
4. Gaming is a world in and of itself. Using an analysis of visual semiotic resources in relation to one game, explain the world that is created and how players are positioned within it. You must address all three metafunctions.
Semiotics is the study of the signs for the study of meaning-making in its social context. The writers, photographers, speakers, printmakers, designers, painters, express the meanings and even though the effect and the importance are of individual differences. The societies are not homogeneous, it is composed of groups with the varying interest, and the individual messages reflect the differences (Jewitt, Bezemer and O'Halloran 2016). Intersemosis allows the different modes of meaning-making for combining and integrating in order to construct the meaningful and the complex part that cannot be reduced to the sum of its constitutive parts (Ng et al. 2016). The term foregrounding can be defined as the semiotic resource is deployed in such a way that attracts attention. This study will discuss about the analysis of the two websites and the website information shows the implication of the theories like intersemiosis and foregrounding.
Image 1: The home page of the reputed newspaper, The Australian
The Australian is the broadsheet newspaper, and its printed edition is a well-rounded daily read with the early general news, life, sport, arts, and recruitment. The weekly sections focus on the areas pertinent to the reader’s interest. The Weekend Australian is one of the leading’s national newspaper, which focuses upon the issues that affect Australia. In Image 1: the textual meanings that are understandable by the viewer from the homepage are discussed in this study. The placement of the elements provides the specific information and the values attached to the various parts of the image. In image 1, the pictures are present in the margin format and the square images. The viewer read this homepage in ‘M’ pattern. The use of red colour makes the viewer more attractive in reading those lines. The pictures are given along with the information so that when the viewer gets attracted to the image, he or she will get the information related to the image. The information is provided in the horizontal triptych pattern; the viewer read the information in the M pattern. The understandings of the textual meaning of the homepage involve the framing part, which involves the way the elements are connected to each other and how many elements are there and their presentation. The more elements in the spatial composition are connected, and the more they are connected, this shows that more they are presented belonging to each other. In image 1, the homepage of the reputed newspaper shows that there are various images and elements in the paper and every images are linked to the information given at the side of the images. The framing portion is strong as the components are clearly separated from the other by the white space and this shows the clear presentation of the components. The components are arranged from the top to bottom and it realizes an opposition not of the idealization but of the initially, that is head and tail is the principle of the progressive atrophy of the information. The components are arranged in the pattern, which makes the information visible to the viewers and the image of the paper are given at the center of the paper, which is present at the center of the paper and this attracts the viewer first to the homepage. The salience is the hierarchy of importance among the elements that is selecting some as the more important one and the importance of the elements are more worthy of the attention than the others. In the image 1, it is seen that there are ample amount of important elements in the homepage for driving the attention of the viewers. The latest news are given in the homepage which shows the right selection of the elements in the front page for acquiring more attention of the viewers and the selection of the important news plays the major roles in attracting the viewers and also the selections of the colour act as the key connection device for driving more viewers. The red colour of the news attracts the viewers, and the colour of the other components influences the viewers for going through the document. The reading paths in understanding the textual meanings play a major role, and for attracting the viewers, the reading path needs to begin with the most salient elements and after that to the next salient elements like this to the next salient one and so on. This is not necessary that their trajectories will be similar to that of the printed pages, left to right and top to bottom, but this may move in a circle. Although, the salience of any elements may vary for different culture as the members of a different culture are likely to have the multiple hierarchies of the salience. In the homepage of the newspaper, the texts present along with the image in the horizontal pattern and allow the viewers to follow only a particular reading path that is in the M pattern the reader will be able to read the information. This single reading path allows the reader to read it in less time that is by going through the reader will be able to get the latest news, and this makes convenient and time-consuming for the reader to go through the home page of the newspaper. The text is sequentially arranged in the homepage, which provides a textual meaning of the arrangement of the elements. This image 1 also shows visual framings that is by segregating the elements of the different territories and also signifies that the elements are different from the other and can be separated in some respect.
Image 2: The home page of the reputed newspaper, Herald Sun
In image 2, the elements are arranged in the horizontal pattern, and the informations are provided and with the headlines the images are provided and the image of the sport are attraction viewers, and it is placed in the centred so that it reflects the latest news and the viewer are more attracted to the latest news. The placement of the elements is done on the homepage, depending on the specific information values attached to the various zones of the image, for driving the viewers to the homepage. The information values are arranged in the horizontal triptych, and this allows the reader to follow the single pattern while reading. The framing involves the arrangement of the components and how the components arranged are connected to the other components, and in this image 2, the elements in the spatial composition are being connected with the information provided along with the information. The horizontal columns are not clearly presented as there is less gap between the horizontal columns and it needs to be separated by the white space. This reflects that the framing is not strong in this home page of the newspaper as the components can be clearly arranged in image 2. The home page of the newspaper contains the salient news, which is provided along with the images, and this drives viewers more to this homepage. The reading paths in the image contain the salient elements at the beginning, it continues to the next salient one, and like this, it continues. The reading paths in this page are from top to bottom, and this allows the reader to read the informations in the convenient pattern, and the image, which is centred at first grabs the attention of the viewer and the reading pattern will be ‘N’ pattern in this homepage. This is time-consuming for the reader, and they can easily go through the page in less time. The visual framing is not so strong in image 2 as it is not clearly presented, it lacks the sharp difference between the dark and the light background. Although it has the bold headlines, they are not clearly arranged as the components are not separated clearly by the white space, and the differences are present but not clearly shown. The components are not properly segregated and separated thus the visual framing is weak in this image.
The above analysis of both the image shows that how the analysis of both the images are related to the theory of three metafunctions that is interactional, textual and the representational metafunction. The viewer is positioned to observe both the website and the primary objectives of the viewer is to gather the information by observing and by going through the websites. The viewer mostly remains in search of the latest news while visiting the websites of the newspapers. This way the interactional metafunction is reflected in the analysis process. The textual and the compositional meanings mostly depend upon the arrangement of the information and the components; the framing also plays a major role in understanding the textual meanings of the websites. The selection of the salience information is necessary as the arrangement needs to be done according to the arrangement of the salient components, which is essential for driving the viewers (Álvarez Valencia 2016). The images can be described as the primary memory image, which gives the particular vivid, gives the definite ideal presentation of the object, and maintain the recall by the effort of the attention, after perceiving it. Image 2 is less ideally represented from image one as it is not represented and the framing is also not strong in case of image 2.
Intersemiosis is the coordination of semiosis across the various sign systems and the interaction of various semiotic system that is working together to create the multimodal text that is more than some of the parts (Royce 2016). The foregrounding generally occurs in the particular feature of the semiotic resources stands out in the ways due to it's not challenging to the usual co-patterning of the semiosis in the single text that is across the text of the same genre (Bálint et al. 2016). Foregrounding is related to the prominence, and it is also related to the motivation by the prominent elements (Leech 2014). In the image 1, the website of the Australian newspaper shows the subscription advertisement in the red colour which is in the foreground of the website, and in the image 2, the website of the newspaper, Herald Sun shows the subscription, that is not foregrounded like the website of the Australian newspaper. The selection of the salient component in both the image are culturally dependent as the selection of the salient component varies among different culture (Royce 2015). Image 1 reflects that the Australian newspaper mainly focuses on politics and whereas image 2 reflects, the Herald Sun mainly focuses on sports. This shows that the targeted audience for the Australian newspaper is the old mature peoples as they mostly have interest on the politics and the targeted audience for the Herald Sun are the young generation as they mostly have interests on sports (Kress and Van Leeuwen 1996).
Therefore, from the above discussion, it can be concluded that the analysis of the website of the newspapers has arranged the components in the website according to the various theories to attract and achieve the attention of the viewers. This study found out that the selection of the salient component is necessary to determine the reading path and the reading path is essential, which allows the reader to go through the information in the less time. This salient component needs to be identified concerning cultural diversity as the salient object need to be culturally independent as the salience component varies as per the culture. The reading path in image 1 is in ‘M’ pattern and in the image 2; it is in ‘N’ pattern. The website shows whether the visual framing is strong or not in the website of the newspaper and the visual framing is determined how the components are separated from the other ones and how it is clearly arranged that is by separating each of the categories by the white space.
Álvarez Valencia, J.A., 2016. Meaning making and communication in the multimodal age: ideas for language teachers. Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, 18(1), pp.98-115.
Bálint, K., Hakemulder, F., Kuijpers, M., Doicaru, M. and Tan, E.S., 2016. Reconceptualizing foregrounding. Scientific Study of Literature, 6(2), pp.176-207.
Jewitt, C., Bezemer, J. and O'Halloran, K., 2016. Introducing multimodality. Routledge.
Kress, G.R. and Van Leeuwen, T., 1996. Reading images: The grammar of visual design. Psychology Press.
Leech, G., 2014. Language in literature: Style and foregrounding. Routledge.
Ng, J.Y., Boon, H.S., Thompson, A.K. and Whitehead, C.R., 2016. Making sense of “alternative”,“complementary”,“unconventional” and “integrative” medicine: exploring the terms and meanings through a textual analysis. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 16(1), p.134.
Royce, T.D., 2015. Intersemiotic complementarity in legal cartoons: An ideational multimodal analysis. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law-Revue internationale de Sémiotique juridique, 28(4), pp.719-744.
Royce, T.D., 2016. 15. Intersemiotic Complementarity in Print Advertisements. Handbuch Sprache im multimodalen Kontext, 7, p.348.
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