4D | Reading Assignment: Rhetoric of the Image by Roland Barthes

What are some of the key questions Barthes aims to investigate in this article?

He aims to investigate how does meaning get into the image, and where does it end. And if it ends, what is there beyond?

What are some of the key terms/ concepts introduced and discussed?

The concept introduced was the three messages, in an image used for advertisement. The three messages are linguistic message, a coded iconic message and a non-coded iconic message.

The first message is the linguistic message. It uses the caption and labels to decipher the message.

As we go on, we realise that all images are polysemous; they imply, underlying their signifiers, a ‘floating chain’ of signifieds. Readers are able to choose some and ignore others.

There are 2 functions of the linguistic message with regards to the iconic message – anchorage and relay.

Anchorage is the most frequent function of the linguistic message, and is commonly found in press photographs and advertisements.
Relay is more commonly used among comic strips and cartoons.

The linguistic message is twofold – denotational and connotational.

The second message is the iconic message, which is concluded from a denoted image.

The denoted image seems to constitute a message without a code. It plays a special role in the general structure of the iconic message which we can begin to define: the denoted image naturalizes the symbolic message, it innocents the semantic artifice of connotation, which is extremely dense, especially in advertising.

The third message is the non-coded iconic message, where the significance seems to extend over the whole image. The number of signs on the same advertisement varies according to individual.

Do you agree or disagree with his argument and point of view?

From the article, I do agree with Roland Barthes’ argument and point of view. I feel that in every image that we see, the visuals are really important. Visuals give us the first impression of the image. Further on, by analysing the image more, we will be able to identify the coded iconic message, which is the primary statement of the image. Next, based on each individual’s past experiences and knowledge, we will identify the non-coded iconic message, which is connoted. This differs as we are all brought up and taught to decipher messages in a unique and different way. Thus, I agree with Roland Barthes.

Provide a brief analysis (200 words) on an advertisement of your choice by using the terms/ concepts proposed by Barthes and discuss the role of text and its relationship with the image in the advertisement. Please include an image the advertisement in your post.

“It’ll blow your mind away” Advertisement by Burger King, 2014.

This is an image which advertises Burger King’s new burger called the “Super Seven Incher” back in 2014. There is usage of both text and image. The linguistic message is “It’ll blow your mind away.” In this case, text is considered a huge factor which affected its relationship with the image in the advertisement.

When removing text from the image, the image shows a female trying to get a bite of the burger. This denotes that one will gain the same amount of pleasure eating the sandwich as they would from receiving a sexual act. The advertisement tried to use sex appeal to promote food. Although it was said that by using sex to attract in advertisements is one of trending methods, this advertisement by Burger King was a flop.

By associating food with sex, it might be considered offensive and degrading to women. In my opinion, the connoted message is that the women is just a slave to men in sex, and they try to portray women to be so desperate to use burgers for their needs.

With the addition of text in this advertisement, it further backs up the image’s message, which means the burger is related to sexual acts.

4D | Strange World Collage


Artist: Oleg Shuplyak
Link: http://www.atbreak.com/tag/surrealism/

An Ukrainian artist living in Berezhany, Oleg Shuplyak creates artistic surrealism works, via usage of optical illusion. He is well known for imaginative portrait heads named Hidden Images. What captivates me about his work was that when viewing his artwork up close, it shows an image of a scenery, but when it in full portrait, it shows an image of a human.

These are 2 of my favourite works of Oleg Shuplyak.

Artwork done by Oleg Shuplyak Image taken from http://viola.bz/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Oleg-Shuplyak-9.jpg
Artwork done by Oleg Shuplyak
Image taken from http://www.atbreak.com/tag/surrealism/

His art is really impressive as coming up with such optical illusion paintings requires tons of thinking, arrangement and co-ordination amongst the objects in the painting. The optical illusion is easy to understand too, requiring only a few glances to spot the portrait emerging out from the painting.