Semiotic Analysis of 'Hitman' Advertisement

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Hall (2003) proposed that culture that plays a primary role in how meaning is constructed. A basic genetic feature of human beings is the ability to classify, and a system of classification (the way in which we can conceptually group information) is learnt in society. Therefore, culture consists of our shared conceptual maps.

'Translatability is not given by nature nore fixed by the gods. It is the result of a set of social conventions.' (Hall 2003). Over time, speakers of a culture have come to unwritten agreements of which signs stand for which concept. We learn conventions gradually and become part of our culture, internalizing the codes, becoming able to express certain concepts through systems of representation. The key idea to understanding how we construct meaning as a culture is through representation.

We hold mental representations, which classify and organise people, objects, and events into categories, in order for us to meaningfully understand the world. Concepts are organised and classified into complex relations to one another, and we are able to form our own interpretations with wider relevance. We form concepts for concrete things such as people, as well as things which are more abstract - such as love, or death. As meaning is produced, constructed, and learned by a group, the conventions of the group's culture become learned unconsciously leading to shared cultural meanings.

Hall (2003) is suggesting that the sender, the creator of the given text, does not create its own language and meaning to which the receiver responds to passively, instantly absorbing and accepting the intended meaning. He is stating that the process of representation and construction of meaning within language is double-sided and interactive.

The print advert for the computer game 'Hitman - Blood Money' is an example of a text which produces meaning, a representation, through language. By looking at the underlying rules and codes through which this text produces a meaning, we can come to an understanding of what it is trying to communicate, the messages it is trying to convey through shared cultural 'space'. This essay will discuss Hall's theory in reference to this text.

There is an existing system of signs between humans and the world, and these signs acquire meaning through being structured into different codes - the principle code being language. (Fowler 1991). Through repetition, codes can be made common to the masses through the media, becoming embedded within our language. Language is a necessity for representation, without it meanings cannot be produced. We may have in our minds a concept of something, and we know and understand the meaning of the concept. But there needs to be a way of expressing this with other people, allowing us to exchange and communicate meanings. Language manages to construct meanings as it is a representational system, representing the different thoughts, values, ideas and feelings of a culture. Through this system of representation, we can share and interpret things with others in our culture, until they become more natural and taken for granted.

Language works by externalising the meanings we are making of the world. Hall sees language as anything which communicates meaning. This advertisement for 'Hitman: Blood Money' is an image which communicates a meaning through representation, through various signs and codes it signifies themes of danger, beauty, death, power, and violence. Viewers use their shared conceptual maps to come to an understanding of what is represented in an image, and whether they choose to accept, negotiate, or reject the meanings will have an impact on their interest in the game.

Representation is, on a basic level, the way in which depicted people, objects or events are given meaning. Through this, meaning and language become linked to culture. Earlyviews of representation such as the Reflective Approach suggested that representation is either an accurate or...
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