International Perspectives on Theories and Practices of Multimodal Analysis
Edited By Janina Wildfeuer
Automatic Classification of Iconic Images Based on a Multimodal Model: An Interdisciplinary Project
1 Introduction: What are iconic images?
Charles Sanders Peirce developed the famous distinction between iconic, indexical, and symbolic signs (cf. Atkin 2013). In iconic signs, the signifier has a relationship of similarity to the object – for example, a portrait resembles the person portrayed, a photograph of a smokestack resembles the actual smokestack depicted, and so on. In indexical signs, the signifier is caused by the signified in the way that smoke is caused by the fire for which it serves as a sign. Finally, in symbolic signs the signifier is assigned by social convention to the signified as, for example, the letters of the alphabet are conventionally assigned to sounds, and words are attached to objects by convention.
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