“I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes, I saw the sign…”
Now readers, what do you think of when you see/hear the word “sign”?
A literal sign? for example:
Or a metaphorical sign, like this?
This my friends is the glorious world of ‘Semiotics’
In Daniel Chandler’s article, “Semiotics for Beginners”, he defines “Semiotics” as, “the study of signs” denoting “words, sounds, images or objects that serve as vehicles for the communication of meaning… they represent concepts, objects, people and things.”
It is my understanding that a sign is comprised of a signifier and the signified. The signifier aka ‘denotation’ is something that has meaning, for example an image or a word. On the other hand, the signified aka ‘connotation’ is what immediately comes to mind (the mental concept).
Take this image for example, the controversial Antonio Federici advertisement for ice-cream:
The ‘denotation’ of this 2010 campaign for Gelato Italiano shows a heavily pregnant woman dressed as a nun, holding a tub of ice cream, standing in a church with the pun of a tagline, “Immaculately Conceived…”.
The ‘connotation’ however, is the individual’s immediate thoughts, an individual’s perception of this advertisement is shaped by their personal experiences, ideologies and values. The company’s idea of ‘conception’ represented the development of their ice-cream. The use of religious imagery demonstrates the company’s feelings towards the product and “comments on and questions, using satire and gentle humour, the relevance and hypocrisy of religion and the attitudes of the church to social issues”. Many individuals viewed this advertisement as a “distortion and mockery of the beliefs of Roman Catholics”.
It is evident that this image of a pregnant nun (through immaculate conception) can be seen in many ways.
What do you think?
- Macleod, Duncan, 2010, Antonio Federici Ice Cream Religion, Inspiration Room, viewed 16th March 2017, <http://theinspirationroom.com/daily/2010/antonio-federici-ice-cream-religion/;
- Chandler, Daniel, 1999, Semiotics for Beginners, viewed 16th March 2017, <http://visual-memory.co.uk/daniel/Documents/S4B/;