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Reading

the Image
“Images are all around us, and
the ability to interpret them
meaningfully is a vital skill for
students to learn.”
– Melissa Thibault and David
Walbert
Basic
Documentary
Information
1) TITLE OF WORK
• It may be significant to the meaning of the work
•It is a textual element which may or may not
contribute to its meaning.
•It can be a simple label which identifies the subject
•It bears an ironic relationship to the work or may
carry a sly or witty comment about the work or its
subject.
•If significant, the title adds a literary dimension to
the work in the interplay of the visual and the
literary.
2) Name of artists
This brings in biographical data:
•what generation do the artists belong?
•Who are their peers?
•What were the dominant artistic trends during their
active years?
•What is their personal background and training?
3) Medium and techniques
2 Types:
•Two Dimensional Work
•Three Dimensional Work
Two Dimensional Work
•It consists of paintings, drawings, prints, and
photographs, which differ from each other
primarily in the technique of their execution
• it means that the composition possesses the
dimensions of length and width but does not
possess depth. All 2-dimensional pieces of art,
such as drawings, paintings, and prints, are
made up of shapes.
Three Dimensional Work
•It occupies space defined through the
dimensions of height, width and depth. It
includes sculpture, installation and
performance art, decorative art, and product
design.
3) Medium and Techniques
•The documentation identifies the medium and
sometimes includes the techniques
• there should be a keen awareness of the
painting, sculpture, print, etc. not just as a
completed work but also as artistic process
involving particular materials and techniques and
produced under particular social conditions of
production, both personal and social.
3) Medium and Techniques
• It is necessary to have a knowledge of the
properties and limitations of the different kinds
of mediums and their techniques
•A note must be added regarding the ground of
a painting. There are occasions in which the
description of the ground requires greater
specificity
For Example:

•Different kinds of cloth, canvas, and wood


have been used as ground at different periods
and helps us in situating the work in a
particular time and place
•It is also useful to identify the particular kind of
paper used, such as the different art papers
and handmade paper produced from a wide
variety of organic materials.
4) Dimensions or measurements
•The dimensions as now measured in the
metric system may be big, large-scale, mural
size, average, small or miniature-size
•The measurement of an artwork usually refers
to the outer size of the canvas, paper, or other
material that is the base of an artwork.
•The measurement of a very large and very
small are usually significant to the meaning of
the work.
4) Dimensions or measurements
•The format of the work is part of its dimensions
•The usual rectangular format of a painting may not
hold any significance. However, symbolism may
come into play in a square or circular format. A
modular sculpture with exchangeable elements
amay manifest architectural concepts.
5) Date of work
•The date, often the year, in which the work was
completed situates the work in a period and
provides the historical context of a work
• The work is viewed in relation to works of the
same period by the same artist or by other artists
6) Provenance
•This is indicated by the name of the present
owner or collector of the work, whether it belongs
to a museum, gallery, or private collection.
•A work, in fact, should have a record of
provenance from the present owner to former
owners and to the artist.
"Semiotics is concerned
with everything that can
be taken as a sign" -
Umberto Eco
THE BASIC
SEMIOTIC PLANE
Semiotics
- is the study of signs and signification

•Signs consist of a Signifier and


Signified
•Signifier
- is the physical element, the actual spoken
or written word

•Signified - the mental concept, the idea of


the sign

•Referent - it is an object that exists


THE BASIC SEMIOTIC PLANE
- it covers the elements, the
general techinical and physical
aspects of the work
1) Visual Elements
- refers to the line value, color, texture,
shape, composition in space, movement.
Each element has a meaning-conveying
potential which is realized, confirmed,
and verified in relation to the other
elements which form the text of the
work.
2) Choice of Medium and Technique
• Medium enters more and more into the meaning of
the work
• For instance, handmade paper with its organic
allure, irregularities of texture, and uneven edges is
favored by a number of artists because it bears
significations conveying the uniquely personal,
human, and intimate, in contrast to mass-produced
standard paper. Technique, of course, goes hand in
hand with the nature of the medium.
2) Choice of Medium and Technique
•The materials and techniques selected
define the forms of visual expression the
artist or designer can develop in their
work.
3) The format of the work
•The very format of the work
participates in its meaning. Again, in
contemporary art, format is no
longer purely conventional but
becomes laden with meaning.
4) Other physical properties
and marks of the work
•Notations, traces, textural features,
marks, whether random or intentional,
are part of the significations of the work
• The Meaning-conveying potential of the
elements also comes from their socio-cultural
context with its conventions and traditions
•Symbolic systems commonly understood by
members of a society or group. These
systems include those of color, for instance,
where apart from the signfications drawn
from the basic psychophysical associations,
they acquire socially derived meanings.
According to de Saussure
again, "meaning is produced
from the interplay of the
signifiers of the work".
Observations:
1) The first is that artistic analysis takes
into account not only the elements but
also other material aspects, such as
dimension, format, medium, frame, and
techniques, as signifiers or conveyors of
meaning.
2) The second is that there is developed
a finer and more sensitive perception of
the elements as they are specifically and
materially found in a particular work.
Line, for instance, is not just seen in its
vertical, horizontal, or diagonal
orientation, but is examined in its
particular properties of density, porosity,
relative sharpness, etc.
3) Third, the elements are not studied in
a sequential and compartmentalized
manner but in a highly relational and
interactive way in which the use of line,
color, texture, composition in space
confirm or verify meanings or create
semantic relationships of similarity or
contrast.
4) And fourth, the signifiers go hand in
hand with their signifieds, and thus one
does not limit oneself to a description of
the elements in the way they are used
but links their particularities of usage
with their primary significations, as well
as with their intellectual and emotional
associations within the society.