Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Rhetoric of the image

For the first part of this assignment we had to read Roland Barthes' essay "The Rhetoric of the image". I found it difficult to understand but after reading it a few times I soon understood the central message of the essay.

Barthes looks into the advertising image and analyses the image in order to obtain answers to questions such as how does meaning get in the image? Where does it end? And if it ends, what is there beyond? In some people's opinion's the image is seen to be inferior to "language" but on the other hand some people think that there are simply no words that can describe an image as the image is simply too powerful.

Images can sometimes be hard to interpret but after reading this I understood more about how we can break down am image in different sections in order to understand it's meanings and underlying connotations. Barthes discovers that an image is broken down into three messages which are: the linguistic, the coded-iconic, and the non-coded iconic. The linguistic message is a huge part of how images are portrayed and this is about how text can be used to add impact on an image but in some cases images do not need to be supported by text as they are powerful enough as they are. Labels in images can suggest to the viewer the company's name and also information about the quality of the item and company. The linguistic language sometimes does not offer any advantage to the viewer as some images are powerful enough let us interpret them without the aid of any linguistic message but however images as well if interpreted accurately can help with the understanding of the text. The image that Barthes is analysing contains various key aspects that help the viewer interpret it such as composition, language and the way it evokes feelings or memories. Our interpretation of images depends enormously on culture.

Although this essay was a difficult read it gave me a huge insight into analysing images and I enabled me to understand the importance of images. After reading this essay, the second part of this assignment will allow us to carry out an experiment which will hopefully improve my understanding of Barthes' essay as well.

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