Reading Words & Images Lecture Notes
The Treachery Of Images Task
Semiotic analysis – 30 minutes exploring:
The text message of the piece “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.”, hand-written (& the artist’s signature), “This is not a pipe.” A literal statement, punctuated with a period which could have easily been omitted. The text alone is a short and simple statement of fact that would suggest that whatever it is accompanied by is not a pipe.
The image itself is a realistic rendering of a pipe (in oil paint). The pipe itself has light & shadow cast upon it [Denotation], suggesting that it exists within a three-dimensional reality, imitating that of our own [Connotation]. However, the pipe is suspended alone in a formless beige space which may bring into question its authenticity as a real object. It is the only image within this work.
Combined, the image and the text are, in a literal sense, in direct contradiction with each other. The image is clearly a pipe, yet the text states in no uncertain terms that “This is not a pipe.”. If one looks beyond the literal denotations of each element, one may read that since this piece of work is a painting of a pipe, and not a pipe itself, the text is correct. The text invites this line of questioning from the viewer, as a literal interpretation results in a paradox & one must seek alternate interpretations to resolve the paradoxical reality presented.
Convergent anchorage: The text and image lose their meaning without each other, but when combined they pull the audience into the premise behind this particular piece of work.
Elliot Watson, Illustrator with a background in historical swordsmanship and all the weird and wonderful trappings that entails.