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In today lesson, we learned about Media Semiotics, a way of reading and image, destructualising  a media text to understand meaning. It is away of interpreting visual literacy, as Roland Barthes explained in deconstructing the coded messages used in advertising. I had already had experience of this, but not at an official level of understanding. There is a language system of differences, with signifiers that give descriptive meaning, denotation; and signifieds which give connotated meaning, implicitly created by the signifiers. The next part is 2nd order connotation, the myth, which is culturally unquestioned commonly held apparent truths, which are deemed as naturally occurring and always being there, like “machines are better then humans”. To fully understand the image, we must deconstruct the myth.

The first step in analysing an advertisement is to note the various signs in the advertisement
itself. We can assume that anything which seems to carry a meaning for us in the ad is a sign. So
linguistic signs (words) and iconic signs (visual representations) are likely to be found in ads, as
well as some other non-representational signs like graphics. At first sight, most of these signs
simply seem to denote the things or people which the images represent, or to denote the
referents of the linguistic signs. But the signs in ads very rarely just denote something. The signs
in ads also have connotations, meanings which come from our culture, some of which we can
easily recognize consciously, and others which are unconsciously recognized and only become
clear once we look for them. –Jonathan Bignell 2002

I can apply this the photo Georgina, Brixton to understand meaning and associations and implications of the photo.


  • Bignell, J. (2002), Media Semiotics: An Introduction (2nd ed.), Manchester University Press
  • Barthes, Roland (1977) ‘The Rhetoric of the Image’ in Jessica Evans and Stuart Hall (eds.) Visual Culture: the Reader, London: Sage (1999)

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