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“The study of the sign-systems by which meaningful communication or literary discourse occurs. As understood by semiotics, in a linguistic event a set of conventions (langue) is used to express a particular meaning.”

Semiotics in its simplest context focuses on the relationship between denotation/signifier and connotation/signifier so basically description and meaning. This theory suggests that when an object is shown to us, like for example in an advert, we first look at it, then we examine it closer to get the meaning of it.

Denotation is commonly described as being the ‘literal’ meaning of the object, whereas connotation is basically your personal thought of it.

Roland Barthes is one of the most famous theorists who played a big role in the development of semiotics.

When I apply this on the picture of Lynndie England and Charles Graner this is the outcome:

Deontation —–> Connotation

Lynndie England —–>Quite manly manner

Charles Graner —–>  Aiming for closeness

Tattoos  —–> US Marines

Handcuffs/bars—–> Prison

Boxes/tables —–>Not quite settled in/temporary stay

Uniform —–> Soldiers

Closeness in pose—–>He is protecting her

Garden chair —–> not ideal environment, not very settled

Another thing to mention is that even though one would think that because Graner is leaning over England, he is dominant, in this case England’s relaxed and non-submissive, relaxed stance, his dominance is reduced, which makes her the dominant character in this photograph.

2nd order connotation/ myth

This is the outcome of where semiotics takes us. Barthes looked at myths as “dominant ideologies of our time”, things that are obviously true.

In this case the happiness would be the superficial happiness of the couple.
Considering the fact that these people are soldiers or even ‘monsters’, who are going to commit disturbing crimes, they have done a good job in displaying a natural kind of happiness, as if they are not in a prison but their home. This is the face of imperialism, as they are the force, which invades another country, but seem to have made it their own home. Whereas the natives are kept in inhumane conditions and are stripped of their most natural rights, these people seem to be supreme and happy, as the natives are suffering.

Another universal myth is the fact that they are smiling for the camera. Regardless of the circumstances they look genuinely happy. This universal myth could be applied on the rest of the series of these pictures, where Sabrina Harman and Charles Graner give the camera thumbs up next to a corpse.

[ accessed 23/11/2010]

[ accessed 23/10/2010]


Written by coskufertingercmp

November 26, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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