lecture 3: Making Meaning


Science of signs – Europe- Semiology – USA – Semiotics.

Language necessity – Agreement from a group of people(s).

General term for words, sounds or images that have meaning – Signs.

Semiology as two elements – Form (signifier)  & Concept (signified).

Signifier and signified, which are fixed by our cultural code, are not permanently fixed.

If meaning changes historically, then we must employ a process of interpretation.

Denotation – Literal or primary meaning (word, symbol,object)

Connotation – Evoked idea or feeling in addition to primary meaning.


Denotation – A photograph of a child is a ‘child’ (what is pictured)

Connotation – Lighting, framing & focus of the ‘child’ (how it is pictured)

Disguised symbolism – hidden messages with in an image .

Iconography – visual images, symbols within a piece of art, leading to interpretation.

Levels of Iconology (strata):

  • level one – factual, primary, natural, expressional.
  • level two – secondary, conventional knowledge brought from the viewer.
  • level three –  intrinsic, underlying basic attitude of a nation, a period, a class, a religious or philosophical persuasion.

Intrinsic = belonging naturally, essential.

Multivocality – signifying many things/meanings.