Research #1 Semiotics


‘The Treachery of Images’ – Rene Magritte

I’ve chosen to do my final piece based on the concept of using an hourglass and watching the water from above to drip below onto a city. Based on the type of photos I take, I would ideally intend for the city to resemble Auckland in order to create a more powerful image.

Before researching the hourglass, I understood it on a basic level as conveying time and that it won’t last forever. Using semiotics, or the study of meaning-making, I’ve discovered new representations and meaning behind the hourglass. In reference to the header image, it is an oil painting from Belgium surrealist Rene Magritte reading ‘This is not a pipe’ in French. I thought this was quite a good example of semiotics as the image is indeed not a pipe, but rather a representation of a pipe. As the viewer however we understand this to be the opposite because of the meaning we attribute. Our experiences colour the way in which we understand and perceive what we observe. By using Auckland then and it’s notable features such as the Skytower then my intended communication objectives are more likely to be understood.

The hourglass itself is repeatedly reiterated throughout images as conveying ideas of the past/future, the here/now and as a reminder to us all of our mortality and the human existence. The general idea of something being limited and finite  will be the central source of meaning created through the use of the hourglass and one that will immediately capture the viewers attention. I want to then incorporate several of these ideas but adapted for global warming. My article explains the rate of climate change accelerating at a steadily increasing rate, so just as our own mortality is reminded to use through an hourglass, so to can be the planets.



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