Pictures and interpretations : towards an applied semiotics
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This is a study about the ways in which pictures can be interpreted and the ways in which they are interpreted; the latter, specifically, in a relatively remote part of Peru. Chapter II reviews an assortment of picture tests which bring to light differences in the ways pictures are perceived. Chapter III examines the specific cultural context in which a fairly informal picture test was administered. Chapter IV presents some results and asks what cultural and situational factors may have contributed to the variety in interpretations evident. The drawing of firm conclusions is precluded by the absence of any systematic approach to the interpretations or to the pictures themselves, and it is this which the second half of the study attempts to remedy; by providing a theoretical framework for the assessment of verbalized responses to pictures. Chapter V offers a definition of "picture" and locates it within a typology of indices. It also examines the notion of "visual resemblance", eventually adopting the view that any picture is infinitely ambiguous. Chapter VI introduces two methodological necessities consequent on this ambiguity: a stipulation as to the identity and the taxonomic specificity of any signified object; and a stipulation as to the spatial extension of its signifier. No other methodological content is presented. Chapter VII classifies types of verbalized responses in terms of their visual motivation, and the degree to which they interrelate the stipulated pictorial units. Chapter VIII acknowledges that signification may continue beyond the representational level. Further, postrepresentational, types of responses are classified in terms of the nature of the link maintained with the representational signified.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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