Deconstruction by liuhongmei


Signs and codes
 Anything can be a sign: a squiggle on the page,
  a pictorial representation of an object, even a
  picture itself
 Signs can be arbitrary (in other words they bear
  no physical resemblance to the objects that they
  describe – words, for example rarely have any
  link to their referants in the real world)
 Signs must also be read in conjunction with
  other signs – the combination of different signs
  forms a ‘code’ which is still open to interpretation
What does this signify to you?
                  Love and romance
                  Health
                  Heartbeats
                  Valentine’s day
                  Heart monitor
                  Centre
What does this signify to you?
                Love and romance
                Health
                Heartbeats
                Valentine’s day
What does this signify to you?
                Love and romance
                Valentine’s day
What does this signify to you?
   Love and romance

                       Code = A broken
The more signs we add, the more
  the meaning becomes clear

   A combination of signs and signifiers
    combined is known as a ‘code’
   In Media Studies we talk about
    visual, audio, technical and symbolic
   Signs can be:

 Iconic
 Indexical
 Symbolic
            Iconic signifiers
   These are signs that share a physical
    resemblance to the objects that they
            Indexical signifiers
 A sign which refers to a concept in the real
  world via a causal relationship
 These images are both iconic and indexical

Iconic = a picture of the rising sun   Iconic = a thermometer
Indexical = the end of a day           Indexical = heat
        Symbolic signifiers
 This is a sign which through convention
 and use has come to stand for what it is
 The link may be arbitrary (words for
 example) or there may be some kind of
 link between the symbol and what it has
 come to represent
Iconic Signs
This is the phone in this advert as it is this that is being
Indexical Signs
Background image as the city represents a busy lifestyle
which is backed up with the word ‘chaos’ at the top. The
image of the hand is also indexical as the writing on the hand
reads ‘buy palm’ which connects to the message of the advert.
Symbolic Signs –
The symbolic signs within the advert are the colour scheme of
the strip along the bottom and the palm logo. The logo
represents the phone company. The fact that the word
‘organize’ and the logo ‘palm’ are both orange gives a
relationship between the two i.e. palm phones will organize
your life.
For Example:

               This image may be used to
               represent the monarchy
               and/or the power of the

                  This image is used to
                  represent Christianity
                 and/or the power of the
Obviously these signs also have indexical
and indeed iconic references in the real
world also but depending on the context
of their usage
What ways can you think of to
convey heat in an image or
visual extract?
 The image of a thermometer as
  mentioned above
 Sweat on the actors
 Shimmering atmospheric waves
 Hot colours like orange, red and yellow
Metonymy & Synecdoche

Two terms borrowed from literary studies
describe other ways in which a text conveys
 A figure of speech in which an
  associated detail or notion is used to
  invoke an idea or represent an object
 It is therefore a kind of cinematic
 For example: the King or the idea of
  kingship can be spoken of as the Crown
          More examples
  ‘Man of the cloth’
 'We have always remained loyal to the
 ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’
 ‘He writes with a fine hand’
 A figure of speech in which the part
  stands for the whole, or the whole for
  the part
 For example: a car may be referred to
  as a motor, or a policeman spoken of
  as the law
 “All hands on deck”
 “The world treated him badly”
Many old Hollywood cliches fall into
        these categories
   Metonymic:
    – falling calendar pages, driving wheels of
     train engines, water crashing over the
   Synecdoche:
    – close shots of marching feet to represent
     an army, flashing blue lights to represent
     the police and emergency services
  Texts communicate their
meaning in two different ways

   Denotative meaning
   Connotative meaning
 This is basically description
 Very simplistically: the images we see
 and the sounds that we hear
Describe what you see in the
following image:
 This is the meaning that we ascribe to
 the things that we see and hear
 What does the mask on the man
 connote about his circumstances?
 What connotative conclusions can we
 draw about the ‘grill’ at the front of the
In this way we can see how what
we see and hear is different to what
it means
 Watch the following clip and
write down the denotative and
connotative meanings you get
    from the signs shown.
    Paradigmatic connotations
 This is when our sense of connotation of a
  shot or sound depends on its having been
  chosen from a range of other possible
 The connotative sense that we get stems
  from the shot/sound being compared, not
  necessarily consciously, with its unrealised
  companions in the paradigm
             For example:
Monaco (How to read a film) uses the example
of a rose. He writes that ‘the rose is filmed from
a certain angle, the camera moves or does not
move, the colour is bright or dull, the rose is
fresh or fading, the thorns apparent or hidden,
the background clear … or vague … the shot
held for a long time or briefly, and so on’. The
shot that is actually chosen, creates meanings
for the audience
   Example: In western films, when we see an
    image of a person shot from a low angle,
    the image connotes that they are powerful.
    This is a paradigmatic connotation because
    we are comparing this choice of camera
    angle with others (head-on, or from above)
    which do not suggest "looking up to" that
    Syntagmatic connotation
 When the significance of the
  image/sound depends on the shot
  compared with actual shots/sounds that
  precede it or follow it
 The meaning sticks to it because it is
  compared to the shots/sounds that we
  do see/hear
         For example:
If we continue with the example of the
rose above, then the sense that the
audience makes of the chosen image of
the rose depends on what else surrounds
it. If it is preceded by an image of a
couple kissing and followed by the
scream of a baby the suggestion is of
romance, sex and reproduction.
   Example: In Saving Private Ryan, the shots
    in which there is a lull in fighting gain a
    connotation of peacefulness (however
    temporary) from the fact that they follow
    shots with rapid action and terrible carnage.
If, on the other hand, the image of the
rose is preceded by the image of a coffin
and followed by an image of a dead rose
then the meaning of the image of the
initial rose is changed even if the image
itself remains unchanged

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