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An American Flag: More than it seems

In Finn’s discussion of images and their meaning within the concepts of structuralism, Finn mentioned Barthes work regarding a singular image as having “both denotative and connotative levels of meaning,” (p. xiii). The image shown here can be deconstructed to explain specifically how  images can dually posses both qualities. This image is denotative in the sense that most all viewers of the image can deduce that this is an image of flowers and landscape and includes a flag, regardless of the flag’s association with a particular country. Additionally, the image holds connotative meaning that is best illustrated due to the presence of the American flag. In the most basic of terms, the American flag symbolizes a wide range of things including freedom, hope, and the American dream; additionally, it is well-known in our culture that the flag is used to commemorate loved ones or to simply show patriotism. Thus the image itself , and most images, can be viewed and deconstructed in  literal terms or it can be expanded to hold a more broad and deeper meaning for the potential audience of the image based on symbols present in the image. Note that our concept of a “symbol” such as the American flag does not have to be used to illustrate this. A symbol can be virtually anything.

 

Casey

Comments

Erica
Reply

This is an interesting concept you’ve brought up about symbols because of how much the meaning can change with the change of the symbol. If everything in this image remained exactly the same, but you swapped out a Canadian flag for the American flag, an entirely new set of values would be represented. It’s still landscape, flowers and a flag, but the deeper meaning could change dramatically. Nice photo!

Amarilis
Reply

I really like the composition of this photo. The distribution of the elements, your approach and the way you relate the significance. And this brings to mind the concept of semiotics, or communication system we use to give meanings to things around us. Although the idea that the picture and all the elements that are present in this composition are palpable, the concept of each elements are totally abstract. Nothing in the world has a meaning by itself, humans have created a system of symbols representing an idea or an object. In the film industry is an important resource utilizing these abstract concepts to communicate a message.

Natalie
Reply

When I view this image, not only do I think about the messages sent by the symbol, but I also think of the messages sent by its presence in the first place. Not every house in America has a flag displayed somewhere outside, so seeing this sends a message to me that the people who live here are patriotic. They feel a sense of pride in their country in some way or another and they too have responded to the connotative messages this symbol sends.

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