I didn’t know this word, so my first step for the tasks in project 2 has been to explore what semiotics are and at a high level how they work, so how signs create messages.

Some of the concepts I have pulled from looking at YouTube and web sites are:

Signs operate by simultaneously and inextricably combining how we think of something – the impact a sound/image has on our senses and what we think of when we see a sound/image – the concept of what we associate with that sound/image.1

Signs are culturally constructed – the significance of an object in Elizabethan times is different from today etc.

There are different ways that the sign can refer to it’s object:

  • Iconic – ‘resembles or imitates its object’2
  • Indexical -‘signs where the signifier is caused by the signified, e.g., smoke signifies fire’3
  • Symbolic – signs where the relationship to the object is arbitrary  – ‘purely conventional and culturally specific’3

A collection of signs can exist together  to create meaning through their relationship. There are different types of relationships that can be created: paradigmatic, syntagmatic, myths, codes (‘Codes are where semiotics and social structure and values connect.’3) and ideologies.

I think this is going to be a fascinating journey exploring semiotics in classical painting and being able to apply that to art throughout history, photography, video making and advertising.


Vanitas with Violin and Glass Ball (1628) Pieter Claesz


  1. Saussure, Structuralism, and Semiotics .
  4. The Signs of Our Times: Semiotics in 2016 and Beyond | Michael Mills | TEDxSUNYGeneseo
  5. Semiotics for Beginners :

Assessment criteria 1


4 thoughts on “Semiotics

  1. Pingback: Assignment 2: Studio Practice; Task 1: Still Life – research – Piotr Bednarek Photo

  2. Pingback: On Intention | Thily Fin

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