Saturday, 22 February 2014

14/15: Denotation, Connotation and Deconstruction – Semiotics

This exercise comes in two parts the first of which starts with us being asked to explain what an image of two boys in football strip, with linked arms on a piece of semi-derelict ground in front of some blocks of flats or residential buildings. I’ve not posted it here because of lack of clarity in my mind about copyright issues, but the list of features that the image denotes should be sufficient.

Denotation – what it shows

Connotation – what I infer from it

Two boys linking arms

They’re friends

Wearing different coloured football strips (the pic is in B&W but one is plain the other striped)

Their differing allegiances do not prevent them from being friends. From my understanding of how tones reproduce I infer that the strips are Celtic and Rangers – which probably makes the location Glasgow.

The strip is very clean

The picture could be posed – football strips are usually a bit grubby, although they could be setting off to play rather than returning.

The rows of apartments behind the boys are very run-down, with an air of neglect

This is not a wealthy part of Glasgow.

The ground is very stony

Adds to the air of dereliction and suggests perhaps that demolition of some of the old apartments has been taking place and tidied up.

The sky is strangely textured and the overall image quality is poor

I suspect this may be re-produced from newsprint

From the list of connotations I feel the image is an examination of the rivalry between Celtic and Rangers fans – and the religious connotations that accompany that rivalry in some quarters. In particular it feels like a reflection on the idea that such arguments generally belong to the adult world.
From the information provided for the second part of the exercise I discover that the picture was actually used to illustrate a story about a tenant vote to transfer all Glasgow public hosing stock to a housing association. So I picked up on the visual location clues well enough, but the overall narrative is rather different. In this context the boys could perhaps represent the benefits of a paternalistic council, supporting communities in difficult times or alternatively the idea of the housing association and the tenants at the start of a lifelong friendship in spite of perceived rivalries. Either way it adds a certain “friendliness” to a story that could be perceived, with other image support, as one of argument and division. Personally I feel that all these interpretations, while valid, are a bit strained – knowing the use to which the image was put does not really convince me to alter my reading of it – which probably reflects my limited tolerance of political arguments and spin.
I’ll come back to compare this with other responses at a later stage.

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