Methodology Essay: Semiotic Analysis

1007 words - 4 pages

The overall aim of this methodology section is to provide an overview on the methods employed so that a judgment can be made as to how appropriate they are and to measure the validity of potential data that is to be generated. This literature will discuss on a method chosen to decode a specific text that comes in a form of short advertisement film. The film, entitled “Sartorial film”, was made by a commissioned artist/illustrator Quentin Jones for a British perfume house, Penhaligon’s. It was made to explore and expose the story behind their gentlemen’s fragrance, ‘Sartorial’. Relating this to chosen method, Richard Howells (2004) asserts that a form of visual methodology called semiotics is able assist us in understanding how people sell their products through many forms of advertising. Therefore, semiotic approach will be applied to analyse this film.

A French linguist Ferdinand de Saussure coined ‘semiology’ which means “a science which studies the role of signs as part of social life” whilst philosopher Charles Pierce worked quite independently from Saussure and founded ‘semiotics’, known as “formal doctrine of signs” (Chandler, 2003). Chandler added that semiotics represents a range of studies in art, literature, anthropology and the mass media rather than being an independent academic discipline. There are two major models of how a sign is structured within semiotics, known as the Saussurian model and the Peircean model (Chandler, 2001). According to the Saussurian model, a sign consists of the signifier and the signified. (Chandler, 2001). The signifier in Saussure’s model is “the form which the sign takes” and a signified is “the concept it represents” (Chandler, 2001, Signs, para. 3). Gillian Rose (2007) adds that there is no necessary distinction between a particular signifier and its signified. However, Saussure’s model has been adopted to take the signifier as the material form of the sign, which is related to our sensory receptors. The signified, on the other hand, is still treated as a mental concept, but it is pointed out as mental form of the material aspect. (Chandler, 2001). Pierce’s model consists of the referent, the interpretant, and the object. The referent is that which stands for something else, whereas the interpretant is how one makes sense of the sign, and it can be polysemic (Gillespie, Toynbee, 2006). The object is the thing that the sign stands for within objective reality (Chandler, 2003). Pierce came with three kinds of signs: the icon, the indexical and the symbolic (Rose, 2007). When the signs are at the iconic stage, the photographic images look just like the thing or person that are being represented. (Dyer, 1982). Dyer adds that other signs go further than the simple portrayal of a person or a thing. The signs at the indexical stage imply an extra meaning to the one that is obviously represented. The connection is made between the sign and what it is signifying through causation or analogy; thus, the...

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