The image Can lie

The image Can lie

If you have experience riding the free bus to UOW, then I’m sure you all know what this sign means; those who have higher priority in sitting on the seats that are available. Our culture may also depict whether we take this sign into account – some cultures disregard signs, where as I consider moving as sign of ‘respect’.


“Hey, Splatterface! How’s the weather up there? Ha Ha”


Although this image seems to be straight forward, there is a sense of complexity which triggers thought and analyses.

Semiotics… I get it; SEMIOTICS is probably so irrelevant to you at this point. Well, individual’s use semiotics every time they view, understand, interpret and perceive the meaning of an image or sign. People have different ideologies, hence why the image above may mean different things to different people. Our ideologies stem from past experience, cultures, race, religion, family structure and gender.

Denotations and connotations paint the interpretation of an image; the denotation of the message is clear, obvious and easy to understand…a word or digital code. However in this image, the dialogue may create different interpretations to different people. The tone of the dialogue, ‘ha ha’ is the way in which our brain reads the image. Therefore outsiders who can  only decode the message through denotation, because the message of the image could mean many things…To some nationalities, the word choice of ‘ha ha’ may not decode a message of laughter and teasing. This dialogue may be used as a way to say ‘pardon?’.

“huh, what’d you say mate?”

…Therefore the way the receiver decodes the signifier, may be completely different to the intended message of the image by the sender.

Another way of reading an image is by analysing the setting, positioning of focal point and lighting…these techniques used in an image create meaning, which almost tells the narrative or story of the image. However, because this image is a cartoon, our brain cannot decode the message through this way.

Therefore, if the message of the image isn’t clear due to having multiple meanings, it is the individuals personal analyses of the image – that in which determines or alters the interpretation or perception!

…Leading me to ‘connotations’; ‘what in in the image’ rather than ‘what the image is’. When I look at the image, the ‘signified’ is the character due to my past experience of watching the cartoon, ‘The Simpsons’. Being a fan of the TV show my interpretation of the image automatically understands the message of the image to be a form of bullying. My ideologies towards the character are negative – however, depending on different school experiences, other individuals may have diverse ideologies or outlooks upon the image; such as humour. 

If however, our culture, age or religion doesn’t correlate with this TV show, our connotations would be completely different. If one didn’t view ‘The Simpsons’, the individual would possibly interpret the image as a joke, funny or light-hearted. The facial expressions and dialogue may express the character as playful, comical and kind.

This image is a good example that things are not what they seem. The signifier (the word) enables a very broad response from individuals. Therefore depending on how far the individual analysis and or ideologies of an image, the interpretation could be very different from what the message of the image is.


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