representation and interpretation

This week’s lecture saw us looking into the world of semiotics – or the science of signs. Semiotics basically is the study of how signs are meant when conveyed and how they are seen. Another way to put this is how signs are represented and interpreted. What we learnt was that all signs, have something called a signifier, and the signified. Here’s a little visualisation of that idea.

Taken from Renee’s week four BCM110 lecture.

To relate back to our topic, we looked into how there are many different ways that media audiences will interpret certain signs or images, and what this means for media platforms. In our tutorials, we looked at a variety of complex images (mainly controversial ad campaign screenshots) and discussed how they may have been interpreted as well how they might have intended to be interpreted. We were asked to analyse a complex image of our own choosing, and comment on it effective or ineffectiveness. I chose this image from a campaign by the ‘Unhate Foundation.’

Unhate’s 2011 UNHATE campaign.

Most people would be able to recognise the figures in this photo, but they don’t realise they are interpreting just by doing so. In order for this to be an effective advertisement, that’s what the company is relying on us knowing. But that’s not necessarily always the case. From a complete outsiders perspective, the image just shows two men, dressed in suits, one of possibly Asian descent and one with light brown skin. The made-up word ‘Unhate’ is written on the top left corner of the screen. There are so many ways this image could be interpreted. For example, this might be an advertisement supporting the legalisation of gay marriage, or possibly an ad for a hairdresser, tailor, or even the local Asian grocer. In order for the image to be effective in its purpose, the audience needs to know that these two men were actually big world leaders at the time of this campaign. Go figure.

The real idea behind this campaign is one of peace and freedom. The foundation that made this poster aimed to spread the ideas and feelings of love and to express their ideology. Ideologies was another topic we discussed this past week. For those struggling to put their finger on a simple definition, as I was, here’s a simple definition we found. Ideology is the way in which we imagine the world to be. This is unique from person to person, which is one of the reasons we can interpret messages so differently – because we WANT to see different things.

So, if you want to take anything away from this, let it be this: Next time you see a piece of thought-provoking imagery, have a think about what it’s telling you. Also, think about what it wants to be telling you, but you don’t consider – because of your own pre-existing ideologies that affect how you interpret. Nothing life-changing, just a bit of food for thought.



being part of an active audience

One of the most gratifying experiences I’ve had has been being part of a festival audience. It weird to explain how being surrounded by thousands of sweaty drunks all screaming someone else’s song lyrics is enjoyable, but I’ll give it a crack. First, a bit of background though, let me set the scene for you.

In late December 2017, my girlfriend Jessica and I decided to go for a little month-long trip to Tasmania, to celebrate the end of school and to get away from our small country town Albury. Naturally, the New Years period is a very good time for music festivals to be held, and of course, we had planned our trip around Marion Bay’s ‘Falls Festival,’ a three-day campout with heaps of Aussie and International artists. We were pumped.

Now walking into that festival, seeing all these tents popping up like multi-coloured wildflowers in this massive expanse of farmland extending out to the ocean was truly awesome. Not the overused version of the word, but the version that actually left you awestruck. The view wasn’t even really the best part, it was this feeling that overcame me when I realised I’d be sharing this profound love for music with this massive sea of people for the next 72hrs. And that I did.

Sharing, in my opinion, has so much power to bring happiness and joy.

While I was standing there on New Year’s Eve, dancing in about seven other peoples personal space and they in mine, I felt such immense joy. I would look around at others hugging their friends and boogie-ing and just smile. Stuff like that is really reassuring, especially when you’re slightly moderately drunk. The fact that everyone is there to have a good time and share that with you is so moving. Well, almost everyone anyway.

It happens in so many mosh-pits at so many gigs and festivals. There’ll be someone who doesn’t know their limits, and drinks too much – or takes too much – and acts like an idiot. People who think just because someone dances with them, that they then have a right to grope or touch that person. There were two reports of sexual harassment on the first day there. Luckily that was the extent of it, but there’s still the fact that it happened at all. Someone’s experience was ruined, and they would’ve spent the rest of their time feeling unsafe, just because of a select few dickheads. That’s the thing about crowds like that, they’re all-inclusive, which while being amazing, means the bad eggs can still find a way in.

I walked away from the festival at the end of the three days absolutely chuffed. I’d felt so much a part of something bigger. I’d realised how amazing live music events like this are at bringing people together. Something people don’t really realise about mosh-pits is that everyone (well, 98% of people) looks out for each other. If you fall over, four people will reach down at once. If you’re not feeling great, someone will notice and hand you a bottle of water. I even saw people give up a barrier spot just to help get someone out of the pit. Being part of a crowd like this really gives insight into why music audiences really are important and why live music is such a backbone for the youth today.

I think this relates back to our BCM110 this week in an interesting way. We had looked at Media Audiences and the original meaning of the word. It used to people a bunch of people all grouped together sharing this experience at the same time. This doesn’t really happen much anymore sadly. Many families might watch Netflix on their own accounts on their own devices, as opposed to sitting all in the lounge room watching the same thing on the one TV. When you’re at a festival, you’re part of an active audience. You get to share the experience. And what a good experience it is.