Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Polysemy Images Part 2


Part D

In this part of the assignment I want to pin point on the location of the story, as many people managed to produce a similar story however were not collectively reading the ‘Las Vegas’ theme. Due to culture and upbringing I felt that bringing a photograph in that ensured the location of Las Vegas would convey the story that the night started good ended bad due to a wild night of gambling and drinking. The reason I didn’t chose say a photograph of a wild drunk group of people was because I felt the connotations of Las Vegas may portray that instead.

Jonathan, 19, Design Student, Scottish
-“Whilst in Las Vegas for a birthday my luck went down the drain as my land rover got lodged in the sand surrounding the casino.”

My goal was achieved in this analysis as the mention of Las Vegas is clear and the reader has an understanding of Vegas’s culture of gambling. The celebratory signal has been transmitted successfully through the image of the balloons and the message that something went wrong was perceived as an accident with the off- road car.

Kirsty Braes, 19, Design Student, Scottish
-“Reminds me of ‘The Hangover’. A trip to Vegas goes wrong and people lose at gambling and their truck ends up in a hole in the desert.”

The correct location is present in this response but also a recurrence of the reference to the film ‘The Hangover’. Reference to this film itself gives connotations of party gone wild, gambling, drinking and ending in trouble. This may have been induced by the added picture of the Las Vegas image however testing this theory on the same person wouldn’t necessarily work as once they have an interpretation of the images that story sticks and is hard to differentiate away from even when another image is taken or added.

Emma Thompson, 19, Design Student, Scottish
-“A couple and their friends went to Las Vegas to get married. They spent their hen/stag weekend gambling in the casinos, won a large sum of money. They released the balloons to celebrate their marriage before spending their honeymoon a large sum of money on an adventure packed holiday across the desert.”

The Las Vegas reference is apparent in this response but also a stereotypical trait is suggested in the story – to go off to Vegas and get married. This is the first analysis that covers this type of story rather than it being a birthday celebration. However the connection between the Nevada desert and Vegas has been missed here and instead a conclusion of a holiday away to a different desert has been reached. This is due to the knowledge the reader has – whether they realise this connection or not.

Karen Lyttle, 21, Design Student, Northern Irish
-“I went touring in America where I visited LA, but also went on safari. Our holiday turned into a bit of an adventure as our car got stuck in the sand on safari so my boyfriend took a chance with gambling so we could buy a new one. Thankfully we won!”

Out of all the stories this one does not successfully reach the correct location intended instead LA is suggested. This will be again due to the readers knowledge of the world and culturally upbringing, or perhaps a simple misunderstanding of the location. However the gambling element has been reached and presented in a positive manner as they won rather than losing in the bet.

Callum McBain, 19, Design Student, Scottish
-“I went to Las Vegas one weekend to play some poker like in ‘The Hangover’, I began to win and the felt like I was floating but I was too greedy and lost everything, I was sinking in the sand.”

Reference to ‘The Hangover’ and Las Vegas dominate this story, the added image works will for this reader. The take a symbolic message from the image rather than the literal image of the jeep sinking into the sand, it’s more about being in trouble with dept due to gambling.

Lin Ma, 20, Design Student, Chinese
-“Some people drive jeeps to Las Vegas on the road. When they go through the desert they encounter a sandy storm, however they reach Las Vegas and play poker and gamble. Fortunately then won a lot of money celebrating by releasing balloons.

Again this anaylsis plays on the positive side of gambling – winning rather than losing.

Charlotte Matthews, 19, Design Student, Scottish
-“I recently came back from a holiday with my husband in Las Vegas, there was good points and bad points to the holiday. The good bit about it was the fact that we won £15000 on the poker game and celebrated with hundreds of balloons and alcohol. However the bad point was our car broke down as we were on our way to the airport. The £15ooo makes up for the hours of waiting for help.

This interpretation points out the correct location, the celebratory theme but runs with it as a positive outcome of gambling. It is varied from the previous story slightly however the cover the same main points.

Part E

Although the second experiment was effectively successfully in clarifying the location there was still a variation in the stories that perhaps would be rectified with the use of a linguistic message. So I conducted a third experiment, testing whether by adding text to one, two then three of the pictures would narrow down the stories to one central interpretation. I wanted the story to still follow the representation of the film ‘The Hangover’ so words that related to partying, drinking and the results of a wild night were going to help the success of the experiment.

The first few people were asked with the added word on the image of the poker chips – DRUNK.

Caroline Martin, 20, Design Student, Scottish.
-“Going out to a party/ night out then getting drunk and playing poker with the night ending badly.”

With the subtraction of the Las Vegas image there is a sense of a clear lack in location definition from the first story. However it is obvious to the reader that the night is defined by alcohol and people will ‘get drunk’.

Charles Stewart, 20, Design Student, Scottish.
-“After a drunken lad’s night of poker, we decided to sell a land rover and tie balloons to it. Before we knew it the car was floating. As the balloons popped we went lower and lower. Suddenly we crashed into sand. Where the hell are we?!”

Again a lack of location in Las Vegas is shown in this analysis, but again the ‘drunken’ aspect is still intact. What I found with this response was that it was very imaginative compared to the rest of the stories. I wondered whether he got the inspiration from the resent Disney film ‘UP’.

Second group of people were shown an additional word on one of the images, the balloon image – PARTY.

Qing Ye, 20, Design Student, Chinese
-“When a person has experienced the modern city life - partying, drunk and dancing, he/she will feel bored. So he will try a different experience like a explorer of try an extreme sport, something crazy!”

The location here is not specified here but does identify with the city which is better than the results from before. This reader must be relating this type of behaviour with the city culture due to their own personal knowledge and views of the city.

Mary McCarthy, 19, Maths Student, Scottish
-“ It's 100 degrees and the race is on, the annual 4x4 desert racing championships! Kirk this year’s favourite to win is geared up in his kitted out jeep. The race starts............. Kirt is the leader...until an unexpected surprise!! His once perfect 4x4 becomes stuck in a sand dune and the newly modified wheels -perfect for gaining speed- aren’t strong enough to work the jeep out. Needless to say Kirt and his crew are last to his humiliation. Then on to the after party....balloons, music and dancing fill the room. This year’s winner has taken centre stage, giving an acceptance speech, not to forget adding the today’s embarrassing event including Kirts 4x4 failure. The laughter becomes louder, the winner seeing the crowd’s reaction grows more and more confident. Looking proud to accept the bottle of very tasteful and expensive champagne, he then shakes with a strong might and pops the bottle open all over Kirt until he is soaked in the wasted alcohol. What started out as an exciting day for Kirt ended in humiliation and embarrassment."

This is an elaborate response to the images with words present on two of them. Again no reference to Las Vegas but also the reference to gambling has also disappeared. The words in this case have not helped but rather prevented the process of elimination.

Finally all three pictures featuring words – DRUNK, PARTY, MORNING AFTER.

Sheonagh Gall, 20, Design Student, Scottish
-“I was so drunk last night at the party that I felt really terrible the morning after. Last week I went to a party, got soooo drunk and ended up at the casino, as usual! The morning after I went out in the car, still drunk and crashed it!”

Analysing this response reveals a positive outcome as each element is present in the story however the location is still an issue and with the added presence of the Las Vegas image I believe this would have been 100% successful.

Stuart Sichi, 13, High School Student, Scottish
-“4 men go to Las Vegas and have a bachelor party. They all get drunk and go spend all there money in a casino. The morning after they find themselves in the middle of no where and cant remember what happened. – ‘The Hangover’

This is the perfect analysis of the images, the location – Las Vegas, the storyline, and the comparison to ‘The Hangover’ are all present. Perhaps my brother and I are on too much of the same wave lengths?


Relating this experiment to Barthes views seems reasonable although in reality does not always work perfectly; there are so many variables involved that change a persons perspective. Gender, religion, nationality, age, occupation and many more that have to be accounted for when carrying out this experiment as basic knowledge of cultures and environment changes when these variables differ.

For my experiment personality was a variable that played a big part in differing the stories. If the reader was more conserved the story would mirror that trait but if a person was eccentric they're story would take a more imaginative form. This created a problem with the process as many different people will read things different even with added information pushing towards a certain conclusion.

However they're was an aspect that I found interested me. It was the comparison of the images to the film 'The Hangover', I found that this finding suggested that the images did not only invoke a story but also memories allowing the reader to compare the film's traits to the messages in the photographs. Each story investigated in this experiment has it's own linking pattern, whether it be linking a characteristic of an activity to a specific location or developing a symbolic message linked to a literal picture. This shows how much more goes into creating a story from images than we actually realise when we do it. It defiantly shows potential in advertising and many other design driven practises.

I felt that perhaps if you wanted to focus the experiment primarily on what messages change the reader's interpretation then selecting subjects whose profiles were similar in some way would allow you to eliminate variables to some extent. However this concept would not work in practice as people are all varied and for good reasons so instead more experimental tests should be done to investigate the variations of human habits and profiles in order to take this concept further.

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