Interpretation and Perspective

You know that feeling when you see an image and for a second you see one thing and then after a double take, you acquire a completely different perspective and it takes on this whole new meaning? Well this my friends is a complex image. These complex images are constructed with a combination of semiotics, interpretations, and an ideology. All very elaborate terms, but when broken down and applied reveal how their relationship can have an affect our perspective compared to others who see the same image.

Take this image for example:

Unicef A4.indd

The obvious first impression or signifier component of semiotics in this image, would be supposedly a woman standing or hiding behind a black book. Upon further inspection or thought the signified component or connotation is developed.

For instance my connotation on this image is as follows, women in particular those from Middle Eastern backgrounds (gathered by her dark eyes and skin tone) hold masses of knowledge (symbolised by the book) but are perhaps restricted from expressing or contributing this by religious ideals. The fact that the book is black and covers her face up to her eyes can also be a symbol for a burqa, further emphasising the suspicion that the subject is of a middle eastern ethnicity. Also noted is the fact that like black masking tape, the book/burqa is acting as a physical barrier for her expression. However, another individuals semiotics may lead to varied connotations influenced by ideology, in their opinion the person may not be of middle eastern appearance or even a woman for that matter, their idea may have a larger focus on either one component or the other rather than a combination. The addition of minute details such as the word “UNICEF” in the bottom corner may highly sway their perspective also . My connotation  also has an overshadowing of negativity, mainly influenced by the dark colours in the extract, whereas there is a possibility that someone can shed a positive light on the same extract. The varying perspectives on components of the image are those which contribute to the complexity of the image.

Upon further research into this extract and the creator, I have gathered that the image was a UNICEF campaign which had the slogan “more education for girls in islamic countries”. I feel that the reason the creator presented this slogan in such fine print is to initially give the audience a chance to establish their own connotation and really consider all aspects of the image to deliver his eventual message.

Isn’t it intriguing how the mind can have such varied interpretations of the same image, while still communicating a meaningful message?



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