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Beyond Words

Pictures, Parables, Paradoxes

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Edited By András Benedek and Kristóf Nyíri

Human thinking depends not only on words but also on visual imagery. Visual argumentation directly exploits the logic of the pictorial, while verbal arguments, too, draw on figurative language, and thus ultimately on images. In the centuries of handwritten documents and the printed book, our educational culture has been a predominantly verbal one. Today the challenge of the pictorial is explicit and conspicuous. In the digital world, we are experiencing an unprecedented wealth of images, animations and videos. But how should visual content be combined with traditional texts? This volume strives to present a broad humanities background showing how going beyond the word was always an issue in, and by now has become an inevitable challenge to, pedagogy and philosophy.
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The Semiotics of Images: Photographic Conventions in Advertising

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1.Introduction

The photographic image has become the most preferable visual tool of mass culture on account of its correlation with reality, and consequently, its ability to visually transform cultural and social conventions. Photographs are received as an environment, a point of view that Burgin substantiates explaining the role of photography as being the medium of the free coinage of meaning.1 Unlike paintings and films where the coinage of meaning is deliberate and presented to the critical board of viewers, photographs offer themselves “free of charge”. Through the instrument of mass media and with the help of semiotics photography is no longer perceived as purely a form, or an avenue, a passage, to the presence of an author, but an object that takes on a broader social context. This laid the foundations of visual communication construed as an integral part of the social and cultural heritage. Consequently, the need to discuss and analyse the visual message arose, questioning its correlations within the environment it exists. Many of the analytical methodologies employed by media and cultural studies that developed as a post-war project had as their goal to understand the influence of industrialisation and advancing capitalist society on new, mass forms of communication and representation. Arguably the most frequent representations shaped by the social and cultural heritage come from the field of advertising where the medium of photography is predominant. Being an interesting medium of representation, photography in advertising culminates in the production of meaning – an obvious example...

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