Semiotics Notes

Active Semiotic

  • Simplifies a complicated world
  • Looks like it isn’t designed at all
  • Emojiis are fantastic example of meaning expressed in no more than 20 px across
  • Road signs exist to stop people killing each other driving heavy machinery at speed

The Project

  • Practically test and explore the world of the graphic symbol in contemporary cultures and the physical and digital environments
  • Practically testing and exploring semiotic theories
  • Understand how they can inform your work as a graphic and media communication designer
  • Test in audience
    • Context and formal symbols
    • Target audience in the environment
  • The Schedule
    • Intro and briefing
    • 21/28/07 Development workshop
    • 14 March one to one
    • 18/25/02 development tutorials
    • 09 one to one tutorials
    • 16/23/30 May studio tutorials
      • Use graphic design to communicate the design process
    • 04 June Explorations Unit Submissions

Task

  • Produce three symbols that communicate oppositional meaning and someplace in between
  • Parameters
    • Your signs may be symbolic, indexical, representational, or figurative
  • TO BE SUBMITTED DIGITALLY
    • Pixel perfect resolution
    • Make sure what you are producing is part of the RGB system
    • Include exact colours and HEX codes
  • Include a technical interrogation of the idea and symbols
  • Graphic consistency and meaning
  • Research this
    • Charles Peirce
      • Philosopher, logician, scientist, pragmatist
      • Early writer and thinker on the way in which we read signs and interpret the world
  • Read this
    • Ways of Seeing
    • How to See the World
    • This Means That
    • The Highway Code
  • Understand design science
  • Visual Summary
    • Analysis and schematic, diagrammatic, comparison
    • Screengrabs from a newspaper and other articles

Content

  • Provocation
  • Is there a need for this projects?
    • How do we make them?
    • Why do we use them?
    • Explore philosophy, need, social movements
  • Symbols exist to be translated and understood and responded to
  • Understand the journey f a message via the symbol
    • Sender à who
    • Intention à aim
    • Message à says what
    • Transmission à what means
    • Noise à interference (symbols being misread)
    • Receiver à who
    • Destination à what result (the intention of the person)
  • You can choose to ignore symbols and instructions
  • Peirce’s Three Semiotic Elements
    • Sign
      • The graphic representation
      • Signs are encoded, its meaning is derived from its context
    • Object
      • The thing which the sign refers to
    • Interpretant
      • The sign’s meaning
    • Signifier
    • Signified
    • Connote
      • The emotional or between-the-lines meaning
    • Denote
      • The exact meaning
  • A typology of Signs
    • Icon or iconic
      • Has a likeness or semblance of the actual thing which it represents
      • Derives from Christian ‘icons’
      • Understand the progression of icons
    • Index or indexical
      • Is directly connected to the signified (the actual thing)
      • It refers to other things, like a bunch of lines for fingerprints
      • Refers you to the things you want to see
      • Thumbprint refers you to the thumb
      • Communicate via symbol which implies something else
      • The “do not consume” has been taken out to take us away from the thought that we are spending
    • Symbolic
      • Imposed symbolic meaning or culturally accepted meaning
      • This is interpretative
      • Heart symbolic of romance
      • Rely upon cultural conventions
      • Roman numerals
        • Really interesting to thing about IV as a character
        • It’s a convention that we understand that numbers look like certain things and strokes
    • Extended research
      • Skeuomorphism (iOS UX/UI icons)
        • Visual mimicry of the real space
        • Real world sheen over the digital idea
        • Paper noise when it goes in the trash can
        • Scared of the idea of data being transferred
      • Aniconism
        • Non figurative symbology
        • Look at Islamic aversion to prophet depiction
      • Anthropomorphic representation
        • Made to look and feel human
  • We do translate the world, it’s how our mind wanders
  • Misreading
    • When we do not have the full information, meaning is lost
      • People read completely different things
        • A biologist sees a tree in a different way than a child or an engineer or an artist
    • The typology of an oak tree
      • Experiment
  • Research
    • Cigarette
      • Smoke is indexical
      • Cigarette is iconic
      • Circle is symbolic
        • Circles mean mandatory
        • Triangles are warning
        • Red is warning or do not
        • Slash means no
    • Nike
      • Non-Euclidean
      • Imparts speed and tick mark
    • Otl Aicher pictograms
      • Munich Olympics
      • New visual language
    • Semifor
      • Airports and ships symbol communication
    • The Neurath Group
      • Marie Neurath
      • Otto Neurath
      • Gerd Artnz
      • ISOTYPE
        • International System of Typographic Picture Education
    • Margaret Calvert
      • Look at the redrawn sign 2016
    • Susan Kare for Apple graphics
    • Francesco Saroglia
      • Pure wool mark

Contemporary Applications

  • Where do we see signs? (reader)
  • How do we respond to them? (active)
  • How do we understand them? (context)
  • Electronic Passports
  • Contactless
  • Wifi symbol
  • Olympics symbol
  • Word symbols
  • Microsoft save icon
  • Play, pause, and record
    • Record like a camera eye
  • Why?
    • Through technological change and development
    • Dietary
    • Basically, change

Graphics

  • Context and the arrangement of visual elements informs meaning and aids communication
  • Arrangement is as important as colour and meaning
  • Traffic lights have an exact order and an “in-between”
    • Its not as simple as good and bad and stop and go
    • Red
      • Signifier: Red
      • Signified: Stop
    • Orange
      • Signifier: Orange
      • Signified: Caution
    • Green
      • Signifier: Green
      • Signified: Go
  • Dice
    • Even objects designed as objects become symbols
  • Some signs are accidental
  • We see, we don’t see, we understand, we don’t

Seed Themes

  • Boiling temperatures
  • Traffic speeds
  • Gender identity
  • Geological timescales
  • Open/close/ajar
  • Identity
  • Wayfinding
  • CONSIDER THEMES WITH BINARY END POINTS AND A SPECTRUM IN BETWEEN

Where does my Symbol Sit?

  • The connection between social and science
    • Human aid/environmental/warning/travel

Reading Meaning

  • Experiments
    • Circles, squares, and triangles are universal
      • These create psychological feeling
    • You must try to understand the language of it
      • Colour
      • Shape
      • Negative space like an outline of a box
    • Blue
      • Very special objects
      • Blue was a precious colour, difficult to make
    • Semiotics and signs don’t actually mean anything
      • Everyone has a completely different idea of what that means
      • It’s completely intuitive
      • Deutsche Bank Logo
        • Negative space
        • Remember it
        • Association
    • Branding attempts to associate a feeling with a corporation, event
    • BP
      • Rebrand from shield to sunflower
      • From strong to sustainable
      • They want to distance themselves from anything bad
    • Cross
      • Possible differences, we learn different things
      • Visual Signs by J. David Crowe
      • Visual Research
  • Context
    • Even when the image is iconic, you need context to understand what it means
    • Like the UK no vehicles carrying explosives
    • Erik Spikeman Transit
      • In context, they make total sense
  • Appropriation
    • Taking something from one source and introducing it to another
    • Like a danger sign for a club music
    • Photography next to symbols creates a new meaning
      • Images don’t really mean anything
  • Anchorage
    • Text can be used to anchor an image by providing an explicit denotation
    • When we see things, we gain new knowledge
    • Combination of text and images
    • Texts guides the reader through the signifieds of the image towards a meaning chosen by the author
    • Two things
      • Confirm the meaning
        • Fixes and anchors the meaning
      • Can be wilfully provocative
        • Recreate a meaning in a different way
  • Relay
    • Text and images are in a complimentary relationship
    • The process of relay liberates the image of its obvious connotations by opening up meaning
      • Interplay with the audience
      • Making unusual connections
  • Defamiliarisation
    • Transforms and object from something ordinary into something unusual
    • It allows us to see in a totally different way
    • We work to decode that
    • Strangeness is compelling
    • Signal Signifier
    • Making strange
  • The currency of the creative is the ability to make unusual connections
  • HOW DOES THE WORD AFFECT THE MEANING OF THE IMAGE
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