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Visual Language Analysis Exploratory Essay


They say that humans are meaning makers, and we uniquely make meanings by means of our own creation and interpretation of codes and signs which take the form of words, images, sounds, odours, flavours, acts and objects. These forms of signs have no original meaning and actually become signs only when we invest them with meanings. We actually think in signs then transform them into language (Peirce 1931).

Most of the signs and codes are recognised by all as living in one and the same society we seem to have the similar vision and interpretation of those signs. It is more difficult with the representatives of other cultures as they have other signs. One of the best examples of the signs and gestures and pictures which are able to tell us much without words.

The example of the differences is signs between the cultures may be considered the following, all the nations in the world nod when they agree with something and only Bulgaria people shake head when they agree. The same is with the pictures. There are two forms of signs, iconic (the visual one) and indexical (either spoken or written), according to Saussure’s (1960) analysis.

On the other hand, Saussure (1960) defines code as a system of signs each of which is distinct from each other. He believes that it is a systematic organization or structure of signs. On the other hand, he believes that codes may appear to be different from language, but in fact, they are both the same, although human languages clearly are among the most complex codes.

My four classmates and I discussed all the pictures that were given to us. Among all of the images we have chosen to analyze the third image. We could not see indexical signs in the image, yet we could observe several iconic signs. First, we could notice a man, with eight well- dressed women behind him, all standing on a stage with a background full of lights.

The signs in the image are quite comprehensible and straightforward that helps you form a clear image about the concept of the event. Furthermore, recognizing the man as a fashion designer named Karl Lagerfeld made it clearer to us and helped us create a meaning to the image we are looking at.

The meaning that we have all agreed on the given the image is the following, Karl Lagerfeld is launching a new fashion line, and all those ladies behind him are the models who promote his fancy designs. The whole background adds to the impression that he fashion show is presented.

Having a task to substitute or add some of the signs with the purpose to change the meaning of the picture, our group agreed on a military theme. We all thought that this image could represent a war zone where the fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld was the army leader and all those models behind him could be the soldiers.

The models could also wear military uniform and boots instead of the heels. Moreover, the background should be changed completely to add to the new main meaning of the photo. A sandy area instead of the stage and the ruined buildings from two sides is a great idea. The lights could be substituted with the fire flames caused by a bombardment and one or two tanks may be also a great idea to add to the new meaning.

Reference List

Peirce, CS, Hartshorne, C, Weiss, P & Burks, AW (eds.) 1931, Collected Writings, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

Saussure. FD 1960, Course in general linguistics, Peter Owen, London. Word Count: 569

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"Visual Language Analysis." IvyPanda, 4 June 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/visual-language-analysis/.

1. IvyPanda. "Visual Language Analysis." June 4, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/visual-language-analysis/.


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IvyPanda. "Visual Language Analysis." June 4, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/visual-language-analysis/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Visual Language Analysis." June 4, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/visual-language-analysis/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Visual Language Analysis'. 4 June.

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