Representation and Interpretation

The way things are read and what they actually possess are often at times, very different things. This is seen all through different aspects in life and in particular the media in which we consume daily. We call these things signifieds (what is represented) and signifiers (what is shown). Every time we view an image we see what is communicated to us and through that, create a meaning of what it may represent. However, this may not always be actually what the image truly represents.

The news magazine, “The Newyorker”, publishes political satires in the form of complex cartoons to communicate a message to the consumer. An example of one of their images is the cartoon of the Statue of Liberty in the 13th of February 2017 publishing. The image shows the Statue of Liberty’s flame having had gone out along with a ghostly or poisonous green colour being used as the images colour scheme. This is what we call the signifier. What the image actually represents though is a lot more astonishing due to a magnitude of hidden concepts to communicate to the consumer the state America is now found in.

The artist of the image has used a poisonous green colour to demonstrate the sickly state America is in, as if the country itself is poisoned. The “eternal flame” of the Statue of Liberty has also been replaced by smoke. The flame above the Statue of Liberty is a sign of freedom, and its cultural identity signifying America originally being the land to travel to for opportunities and a new start. However due to the flame being “out”, this identity which is acknowledged internationally is no longer existent. The artist has done this intentionally to represent their political view on Trump being the current and new president of the USA. The torch can also be viewed as a sickly rose with the fence surrounding the outskirts of the platform as thorns, a further representation of the artists perspective towards Americas current state. The image can be viewed in multiple ways but all being that in which lean towards the artists perspective towards the issue of Americas politics.

The science of studying images as what was just done is called “Semiotics” and includes signifiers and signifieds. It is an important concept as it allows individuals to convey messages through images and other various things without intentionally vocalising the point to the consumer.

Understanding semiotics is a skill i believe all should learn for who knows when an image is trying to convey an important message?

Americas “Freedom”

4 thoughts on “Representation and Interpretation

  1. lck98 says:

    Have we seen the liberty taken away from the American people? Their rights and freedom? Is Trump thirsty for destabilising his country and extinguishing the flame of the Statue of Liberty? Such views seem perhaps a little extreme. I find it an interesting paradigm to portray Trump as a figure of destruction, and yet, he was the people’s choice. Of course Trump is no angel and he has been the centre of a lot of controversy, but perhaps it is an indirect attack on democracy and the political system of America. The media and its propaganda is responsible for the divide of the American people during this time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. klhwriting says:

      The people have indeed voted for Trump and i alongside many others acknowledge such a fact. I understand where you are coming from, and I respect his position of power as he is still president regardless of everyone’s opinion towards him. I am merely stating the reason for the image and it’s representations. If you are interested in speaking about this particular topic, you can email me on the email provided on my contact page.
      Regards, Kyle

      Liked by 1 person

  2. SANDRA says:

    I really like the way you explain the term ‘signified’ and ‘signifier’ and then link them to a specific image. I am also interested in the image you present, ‘The Newyorker’. You did a good job showing what the signifier of the picture is and explain its meaning in relation to current issues. You applied your own frame of knowledge onto the process of interpreting the image. It may be not 100% correct but I think it’s really reasonable and relevant. Indeed, the smoke from the torch, standing for the flame of freedom of America, fades out as liberty in this nation is gradually taken away once Trump is the President.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Emily Godden says:

    Hi Kyle! This is a really awesome post. All of the information you’ve presented is relevant and in your own style. I like how you added your own subjective analysis of The New Yorker cover. It really demonstrates what you were saying about the whole concept of semiotics and how we all read an image in different ways.

    You could do a couple of things to improve, such as incorporating some anecdotes to make it more personal or by adding in some different variations of media. But that’s just me being critical, and you have your own thing happening. So, make sure you keep that up!

    p.s. thank you for providing me with Arctic Monkey’s to listen to while I wrote this.

    Liked by 1 person

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