Using a Fashion Image, Explore the Strengths and Limitations of a Semiotic Analysis.

2973 Words Mar 17th, 2011 12 Pages
Using a fashion image, explore the strengths and limitations of a semiotic analysis.


This essay will aim to elucidate the use of semiotic analysis using fashion iconography and imagery as its primary medium. We will aim to explore the strengths and limitations of semiotic analysis through a process of dissection; where we will explain how imagery has been layered to give voice to what the artist has chosen to communicate, without the use of syntax.

“We live in an image filled world. Whether they are encountered in galleries, the internet or elsewhere, images challenge us. They cause us to reflect and to question our assumptions about ourselves and others. Diversity lies in the fact that we
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The code within which a sign is placed will impact upon its meaning. There are three types of code; social codes, textual codes and interpretative codes (Chandler, 2009). The codes determine the reader’s success of interpretation. The viewer, in order to understand the text and read the sign in a comprehensive way (denotation) but most importantly read it consciously (connotation), must have knowledge of the society wherein the code is placed (as cultural signifiers often shift with geography), understand the relevance of the medium and the genre, and be able to relate the two together, otherwise it may only confuse the viewer.
Signs may often have hidden meanings; only apparent when the reader is aware and is specifically looking for them.

Barthes, represents a structuralist element of thought. His achievements stretch from semiotics to literary criticism through to philosophy. Barthes states that the denotation and the connotation are common in use when connecting with analysis in visual form.

By creating the concept of connotation he refers to Saussure’s classic definition of sign. Barthes believes that the linguistic repertoire of Saussure is not only confined to the sphere of linguistic analysis, rather it is able to transpose upon the semiotics of culture; this theory allowed Barthes to use the sign theory to analyse visual communications; specifically that within photography.

Hence denotation is defined as the mechanical reproduction

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