I have been looking quite extensively at my subject area for some time now, finding images, reading texts and basically getting a real understanding of what my 'Lemon' is. Now that I have built up this solid foundation I wanted to go back an inspect my Methodology a bit more. So far my Main Methodological approach has been Semiology or Semiotics. The most useful resource I have found so far is Visual Methodologies: An introduction to researching with Visual Materials by Gillian Rose (2012). Rose describes Semiology saying it "...offers a detailed vocabulary for specifying what particular signs are doing." It is this vocabulary that is most important in semiology, and conversely what I am finding toughest to grasp. Below I have written out all the most well established terms along with there meaning in an attempted to understand them a little better and ultimately see how they apply to the images I have sourced.
Ferdinand de Saussure's Semiology
- Sign - which consists of two parts, Signified and Signifier
- Signified - The Signified is a concept or an object, let's say 'a very young human unable to walk or talk'
- Signifier - The signifier is a sound or an image that is attached to a Signified; in this case, the word 'baby'.
These are the two single biggest building blocks of a sign. Another way of looking at it from what I can see is if you say a signifier is what you see or hear with the signified being the idea you are trying to get across. The basic idea as created by Saussure is this...
Signifier + Signified
Being able to understand this concept allows me to move on a tackle more of the vocabulary and terminology. In terms of advertising and how these elements work, it seems brands try to shift the signified qualities from the human signifiers onto the product they are selling.
- Referent - The actual object in the world that the sign is related to.
Rose (2012) does mention the issues with Saussure's method saying is doesn't take into account how words change she notes "Many semiologists, therefore, while acknowledging the importance of Saussure's discussion of the sign, prefer to turn to the work of the American philosopher Charles Sanders Pierce.
Charles Sanders Pierce's Semiology
Pierce's model seems to initially slip into 3 sections. Do I find Pierce's model easier to understand?
- Icon - They represent and look exactly like them, the signifier represents the signified by apparently having a likeness to it. Most common in photographic images. Trust, Reality, Seriousness
- Index - Represents but not directly or in a concrete way. Because we cannot represent an emotion, we look for signs which indicate them, e.g a smile. Emotions, ideas.
- Symbol - The thing it represents. They are more conventionalised but clearly arbitrary relationship between signifier and signified.
In reflection, I think the two methods seem to serve different purposes, Pierce's interpretation feels more in-depth, and almost as if it extends upon Saussure's method. Ultimately I think it would be good for me to look at images using both the approaches thus allowing me to create a broader screening of the chosen adverts.
Rose, Gillian. Visual Methodologies. 1st ed. Los Angeles [i.e. Thousand Oaks, Calif.]: SAGE Pubications, 2012. Print.