Design Semiotics

Topics: Mobile phone, Semiotics, Mobile network operator Pages: 10 (3035 words) Published: November 4, 2013


Table of Contents

1.0 Introduction3
2.0 Discussion of Theory3
2.1 Semiotic Analysis3
2.2 Content Analysis3
3.0 Methodology3
3.1 Code Making4
4.0 Results4
4.1 1983-90 Results5
4.2 2007-13 Results8
4.3 Overall Comparison12
5.0 Application12
6.0 Conclusion13
7.0 References14

1.0 Introduction

This essay draws on Semiotic concepts of dividing the object (Atkin 2013) and social semiotic analysis of visual communication (Leewun, Jewitt 2004) to investigate how the meaning of visual culture in advertisements surrounding mobile phones has changed between 1983 and today. Following the reading of The Handbook of Visual Analysis (Leewun, Jewitt 2004) it is hypothesised that the meaning of mobile phone advertisements has become much more subjective in the 21st Century. This research essay will explore the different variables associated with each advertisement and compare each image to discover a trend and use this trend to better understand the principals of design. 2.0 Discussion of Theory

2.1 Semiotic Theory
Semiotic Theory is used to describe the relationship between a sign, an object, and a meaning. According to Morris (1964) people are interpreters of signs. Human action involves signs and meanings in three different ways: the perception stage, the manipulation stage and the consummation stage. The perception stage refers to when the person becomes aware of the sign. When a person interprets the sign and decides how to respond to it is known as the manipulation stage. And finally, the consummation stage is when the person responds. As Langer (1972) states, “symbols [signs] are … vehicles for the conception of objects” meaning that without them, it would be harder to interpret objects and images. Signs can be visually based such as drawings; paintings, photographs or they can also include words, sound and body language. Semiotics is a field of study involving various theoretical stances and methodological tools. It involves the study of not only what we consider ‘signs’ but also anything which stands for’ something else.

2.2 Content Analysis
Rose refers to the method of content analysis being based on “counting the frequency of certain visual elements in a clearly defined sample of images, and then analysing those frequencies” (2001). It was originally developed to interpret written and spoken texts by following a number of rules and procedures in order for the analysis to be reliable. An argument of quantitative verses qualitative information comes into play when researches argue that in order to make the content analysis reliable, quantitative research must be undergone to reach a trustworthy medium. While others insist that content analysis is a way of understanding the symbolic qualities of texts. 3.0 Methodology

With an in-depth understanding of these visual communication theories, a specific code is developed and used to withdraw information from each image and compare the results to one another in order to provide content analysis on the group of images. These ‘codes’ of semiotic systems conceived of a set of rules for connecting signs and meanings. This is so if two or more people have mastered the same code, it was realised that they would be able to associate the same meanings to the same images – hence the code would be reliable.

3.1 Code Making
In the topic of mobile phone advertisements, a specific code was created in order to identify any changes or patterns that occurred over the time period of 20 years. In order to develop this code, each image was deconstructed using a social semiotic analysis (Leewun, Jewitt 2004). The code used for these particular set of images included contact, information value, salience and modality. Contact can be described using two main criteria: demand and offer. If an image is a ‘demand’ image, it is associated with the objects in the image ‘making contact’ with the viewer and...

References: Armani, G. (2010). Samsung Galaxy S 2.2 [Advertisement]. Retrieved from
Atkin, Albert, "Peirce 's Theory of Signs", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2013 Edition), Edward N
Dinstein, Yoram (2005). "Article 7 of additional Protocol I. (1949 Geneva Conventions for the Protection of War Victims)". Australian year book of international law, 24, p. 65.
Gekko, G. (1983). Motorola DynaTAC 8000x [Advertisement]. Retrieved from
Langer, S. K. (1979). Philosophy in a new key: A study in the symbolism of reason, rite, and art. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
Morris, Charles W. (1964). Signification and Significance. Cambridge, M.I.T. Press, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Motorolla DynaTAC [Advertisement]
Nokia (1990). Be Yourself [Advertisement]. Retrieved from
Nokia (1990)
TBWAMedia Arts Lab, USA (2013). Our Signature: 1 [Advertisment]. Retrieved from
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