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 The “eternal flame” of the Statue of Liberty has also been replaced by smoke.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?