CHE COS'E' LA SEMIOTICA VISIVA (WHAT IS VISUAL SEMIOTICS)
di Piero Polidoro, Carocci, Roma 2008, 128 pages, 10 euros.
Visual semiotics is part of semiotics, a discipline studying languages and texts both from a theoretical point of view and from an applicative one. The task of visual semiotics is to analyse images (paintings, drawings, photos...).
Visual semiotics has many questions to answer. For example, it studies the recognition process: we have lines and colours on a bi-dimensional surface and we see representations of 3D objects. But this process is not completely “natural” as we could think: it is also based on cultural laws, that we have to study (iconism problem).
Visual semiotics is interested by other problems too. Which conventional rules help us recognizing characters and actions? How can images narrate stories or represent the time passing? How can visual texts produce effects of involvement or distance of the observer using the position of the characters or their gaze (visual enunciation problem)?
An important part of Visual semiotics is Plastic semiotics. It studies the meaning of lines, colours and visual configuration in general, independently from what they represent. These can in fact create effects of visual balance, dynamism, tension. Visual configurations can also have more complex and articulated meanings and they can be used to make visible on the surface of the text its deep meaning.
This book is an introduction to Visual semiotics (its theories and its main tools). It shows how to analyse images using Semiotics and other disciplines, as Iconography and Psychology of perception.
This book has been written not only for an academic public, but also for those who work or simply are keen on visual communication. When a theoretical concept is used, it is always explained. So, no preceding semiotic knowledge is required.
Piero Polidoro is PhD in Semiotics, University of Bologna, and he studied with professor Umberto Eco. Polidoro taught Semiotics in Rome (University “La Sapienza”) and in Teramo. His main interest are visual semiotics and visual perception.
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Chapter 1. Iconic signs and the representation of the world
1.1 Figurative semiotics
Chapter 2. How to give a meaning to images
2.1. Iconography, iconology and semiotics
Chapter 3. Narrative structures in images
Chapter 4. Visual enunciation
4.3.1. “Transparency” and “opacity” of images
Chapter 5. Psychology of perception and basic effects of plastic language
Chapter 6. Plastic language and structuralist analysis