Semioticsis the study of the meaning and interpretations derived from the signs andsymbols in our everyday lives. Through semiotics we can investigate how meaningis formed and how it can be communicated. Its origins lie in the academic studyof how visual and linguistic signs and symbols create an interactiveunderstanding. It is a way of seeing the world, and of seeing the way that thesurroundings in which we live, impact all of us daily; yet unconsciously. Asign stands for a purpose, object or an occurrence that directs the presence. Thenature of a sign can be arbitrary and it simply has to be learned. Signs often informor instruct someone about something or a situation. A symbol represents the conventionsheld by something visible that has attached meaning and information.
1.1 History of semiotics It iscommonly acknowledged that the foundations of semiotic theory can be derivedfrom two key theorists; these being Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles SandersPeirce. Saussure, a Swiss linguist, researched what he called ‘semiology’towards the end of the 19th century.
Semiology focused on thepattern and function belonging to language itself. Simultaneously,in the United States, Charles Sanders Peirce was writing in the same area ofstudy. Pierce defined three categories of signs: Icon, Index, and Symbol, – whereIcon resembles the sign, Index links a sign to an object, and Symbol is anallocated glyph or image, removed from the direct inference of it’s meaning –that we learn to associate with a meaning, despite their clear abstraction.Saussure being a linguist states that words are symbolic signs and categorizes themcomparably to Peirce in two ways: Iconic and Arbitrary, where iconic resembles Peirce’s icon, andArbitrary was the link between the signifier and the signified through decidedterms as Peirce’s symbol. Semiosisis the term that Peirce uses for an action or process that shows link between asign, an object and its meaning (the act of signifying). His way of describingSemiosis was open with no one fixed meaning. It was a working process involvingboth the reader of the sign and sign itself. And the understanding of the signwill depend purely on the learning of the reader.
Here readers learning could dependupon upbringing, culture and practices. Theareas that form support for what semiotics could be, are the signs themselves,and the way in which they are organized into systems and the context in whichthey appear. Saussure; being a linguist, viewed that thought could beoriginated by understanding language if meaning could be found in language. Linguisticswas also an attempt to describe signs by seeing them as a series of gestures,actions and perceptions. This was then processed to a relative study of the formsof words in different languages and their evolution. Roland Barthes, a follower ofSaussure studied Saussure’s thoughts and redefined the roles of readers andcontent, and their relationship together. Semiotics for him was beyond languageand its presence in any system of signs.
1.2Semiotics in Art Visualcommunication is an interaction through images portrayed through the conveyanceof thoughts and information that can be read or observed. Visual largely reliesvision that is either created or produced such as a sign, symbol, typography,drawing, design, illustration, color etc.
A visual message with text present isalso often a strong medium to convey, influence and educate the reader or anaudience. Signs can take the form of words, images, sounds, aromas,tastes, acts or objects, but such things can have no natural meaning and becomesigns only when we supply them with a meaning. Semiotictheory is always changing, as it is being constantly studied further and refined.Progressed by the significance of data that has been found to nourish andimprove these concepts when they are applied to works of art. Art being such abig term subject to change in in accordance with perspective, here we talkabout visual art. Giventhis broader subjectivity and scope for interpretation within the visual artworld. Artists must convey their message in a pictorial language with standardised,basic rules of picture-making.
Today, in an age revolving around technology we havebecome visual art consumers who interact, read, and decode signs and signals toform meaning and extract information unconsciously all the time. Everythingsurrounding us today involving us and our opinion is interacting and beinginfluenced by signs, words, image and sound. This interaction is a form ofthought control, that enables us to convey our messages creatively, and havethem make a point to a larger audience, who can perceive it in the way we wantthem to, or the way they themselves wish to interact with. Similarly, artworkwith a conceptual message to be conveyed can engage it’s audience’s thoughts tocollect and understand the given signs that lead to meaning.