in the early stages of this project I was determined to focus on the theory side, I wanted to try and underpin what it was I am doing with some design theory. A quick search in the library yielded this book, 'Semiotics and title sequences - Text Image Composites in Motion Graphics’. Very academic and and quite intensely written, I did struggle at first. The book is however online only, so I could continually come back to it over the course of a few weeks, chipping away at it. Essentially the book is split into 3 parts that of which are different semiotic ways of looking at title sequences to films. Michael Betancourt calls these 3 sections, The Figure-Ground Mode, Calligram Mode and the one I am going to focus on, The Rebus Mode. The first two are fairly straightforward ways of analysis image and text, The rebus mode however relies on tacit knowledge of the viewer to create a deeper and more emotionally ground viewing experience. As far as I can see this method is a lot more ambitious but ultimately a lot more successful in translating a chosen message. He writes "The appearance of the rebus mode always depends on the past experience and established knowledge of the audience. The rebus mode presents is rhetorical through designs that are easily understood and recognised by the audience without the need for complex explanations.” This makes it sound very easy indeed but the success of this comes down to how well you portray the visual language of the piece.
The best example I can think of for the use of the rebus Mode outside of films is in the music Video for Glue by BICEP which I talked about previously. The text and the image seem to have no relationship to each other. It requires a small amount of knowledge of the english music scene in the 1990’s to be able to fully enjoy the video. Otherwise its a bunch of images and text jumbled together. If you do understand it you are following the journey of a night out to a rave, but 30 years in the future so instead of seeing ravers you just see empty fields, you are left with a staggering feeling of lose, nostalgia, memory, past happiness, the sense of ageing and time going by. It is a wonderful example of the Rebus Mode.
Turning this to my story will be interesting, I will start out by mimicking this video quite closely, then edit and add to it to change it into something else whilst still being inspired by this music video.
Check out the BICEP Music video Blog HERE
Betancourt gives a good example of the rebus mode by losing at the title sequence of ‘The Good The Bad The Ugly”. I happen to think that actually this is not a great example. As he talks about the rebus mode being used by Iginio Lardani to portray Newtons Rings, which is him communicating to other title sequence designers almost as an in joke. Seems a bit lame if you ask me. Still the introduction and subsequent paragraphs give me enough information to see how it can be used and enabled me to link it to the GLUE video.
I have pulled out a bunch of quotes from the book that helped me to understand this which will be useful when writing the evaluation.
“The screenplay may not have been written in crayon, but it could be; in each case there is an apparent relationship between the thing depicted and the activity described. In this recognition of how the image implies what the text names, the two enter into a mutual dialogue about the nature of these actions and their meaningful re-presentation on-screen. The categorical classifications of text and image remain unchallenged in themselves in the simple form: text remains linguis- tic, while image remains graphic—their combination in the rebus mode does not require a violation of these relations for its meanings to emerge”
“The rebus mode is a transformation of imagery into signifiers”
"To be a rebus involves a juxta- position of type with imagery that produces a rhetorical excess dependent on absent signiﬁers evoked rather than shown. Decoding the text–image combination of the rebus mode requires cultural lexia established by past knowledge and experience; the simple associations offered by typography alone are insufﬁcient to produce the complex plays of intertextuality and immanent encounter in the rebus mode, although the graphic nature of the typeface can play a role in these dynamics.”