"At one level there are no photographs which can be denied. All photographs have the status of fact. What has to be examined is in what way photography can and cannot give meaning to facts." (Bazalgette, 1991, p.8)
There are three main parts to the structure of semiotics; the sign, what it refers to, and the people who use it. There are many different varieties of sign and ways of relating to people and communicating meaning. The conveyance of messages takes place through the development and use of codes, the form and existence that these take depends on the society and culture within which they operate. (Fiske 1990, p.40).
There is often a distinction made between meanings; a connotative signified and a denotative signified. The term denotation is used in conjunction with the most obvious, straight-forward interpretation of the sign. However, signs will often have connotations, these meanings which come from within our own culture and society.
These can sometimes be recognised consciously, but at other times are only apparent when we look for them. For example in many instances the use of a female model in advertisements is a sign which carries connotations such as youth, slimness, health etc. When a sign carries positive connotations like these, it can also work as the signifier of the mythic feminine beauty. This notion originates from society's stereotypical views of the attributes, or positive myths, a woman should possess in order to be deemed sexually desirable.
Myth can also affect how a sign is read as it can make it function as a signifier on another level (Bignall 1997 p.16). Myth is often used in conjunction with existing signs and their connotations in order to give them an additional meaning, often in a particular social role. Advertising copywriters use the visual and...