Social Relations Image Analysis x 2

Student Name: Kaela Wallace

Date of Post: 6 September, 2014

Topic and relevant lecture week: Week 5/6 Semiotics 

(1)  (High Natural Modality)


Artist: Bernie Boston

Title: Flower Power

Year of Creation: 1967

Dimensions: Unknown

Collection/Source: Famous Pictures

Technique/Material: Photography

Genre: Landscape

Style: Anti-Vietnam War Protest, black and white

Image url/Origin:

 This photography was taken by Bernie Boston during an Anti-Vietnam War Protest which was titled Flower Power. It depicts a protestor, George Harris, putting flowers into the barrels of advancing police officers as mentioned by Boston (1965, para. 3), giving it the title “Flower Power”. There are many building blocks and elements which make up the strength of this photograph and the messages it represents. 

The elements which appear to make up this photograph include the police officers, the rifles, the flowers and the protestors. It is a very simplistic but powerful photograph. When discussing the signifiers and signifieds in the photograph, it is obvious that the main protestor (George Harris) has unintentionally appeared white as a symbolic signifier, and makes a relationship with the signified as a representation of the innocent and harmless. This is then anchored down by the contrast of the signifiers of the police officers which also unintentionally but strongly act as another symbolic signifier and signified for power, death and evil which can then be attached to the representation of war. So this acts as a strong and powerful photograph which represents the innocent against the powerful. However, there is a main signifier which dominates this photograph, however small it is, it is the key to the meaning of this image. The flower is the main symbolic and index signifier as it represents the signified of beauty, love and peace. This is an example of the syntagmatic sign which represents peace and works to anchor both the powerful signifier of the police officers and the innocent protestor signifier to create an overall understanding and message to the situation in the photograph. In terms of Dyers list, the bodies,manner, activity and props all play a large role in the significance of this photograph. In the photograph there are the (appears to be) older men officers who stand as opposition on the left and the protestors (young men) on the right. This gives significance to the young men who were brave enough to commit to a (peaceful) act which is risking their lives. It also shows the hierarchy of the older men in uniforms surrounding the younger men. The expressions on the two individuals who stand out because of the ability to see majority of their faces, lead to assume that the man in the uniform on the left is confused and almost objecting from the act, acting on orders and power. However, the man on the right is almost expressionless, acting not personally but generally for a hope for peace. The act of the protestor putting the flower in the rifles of the uniformed men is also a strong index signifier which represents the signified as an act of peace against an act for war and power. This is the strength and focal point of the photograph and the fact that it appears that the uniformed men are advanced at the protestors with rifles aimed at them, and the protestor not resisting but as a response placing the flowers into their rifles makes the meaning of the photograph that much stronger. The audience is first drawn to the centre of the photograph (the protestor putting flowers into the rifles), and then to the surroundings which anchors down the action within the scene and the meaning behind it. 

Discussing the visual social semiotics representationally, compositionally and interactively, there is a lot of analysis that can be made about this photograph. This photograph is clearly representing a active narrative of what the Flower Power movement was. In terms of the interactive meaning, the contact is offer because this photograph is offering the audience photographic evidence of the real event which took place in a Anti-Vietnam War Protest. The audience can almost experience the scene. The photograph has been deliberately taken from a long shot to allow for the audience to get a full view of the action and context to gain a better understanding of the situation and its visual strength. Although this distance prevents a more intimate view of the people and the scene, the audience can also feel intimate with the issue of peace and war. The point of view is very interesting in this photograph as it has been shot from above as that is where the photographer was sitting at the time. It was not intentional that it be shot from above but there can be meaning found within it. It could be proposed that looking down onto this scene could represent symbolically the inferiority and foolishness of war and conflict. In terms of the composition of the photograph, the information value mainly rests centrally, with all the elements holding each other together. However, it can also be depicted as left to right, war to peace and in the middle is love which can ease/end the conflict. The framing is connected with the photo being from 1965 (thus its black and white colour) and its absence of frame lines. Salience wise, it is George Harris (the protestor in the white sweater) who stands out the most because of is contrast against the surroundings due to his white coloured sweater in contrast and his central positioning in the photograph. This photograph has a naturalistic high modality because it is a photograph of a real event which took place. It is a photographic reality with its only indifference to the view of the naked eye being its representation in black and white (due to the lack of photographic technology in the 1960s).

Famous Pictures. (2013). Flower Power. Retrieved from

(2) – (Low Natural Modality) 


Artist: Uknown

Title: Wife of Future

Year of Creation: Uknown

Dimensions: Unknown

Collection/Source: Tone TeluguOne Comedy

Technique/Material: Hand drawn/Computer generated

Genre: Landscape

Style: Futuristic 

Image url/Origin: 

Above is an illustration created to represent the future of wives in contrast to people’s knowledge of the past role of wives and husbands. There are very obvious and important building blocks to this illustration which contribute to its message and representation. 

The elements within this illustration which contribute to the semiotics of this image include mainly the wife and the husband and their props (to be mentioned later). In discussion of the signifiers, the wife and husband both act as iconic signifiers, both representing the past roles and responsibilities of each other and signifieds which read boss: wife and slave: husband. This is a humorous illustration to represent the changed world where the husband (in the past) was the one sitting down reading the paper, smoking a cigarette or cigar, and the wife was the one bringing tea and wearing the apron and bandana. These small signifiers which represent a wife and husband stereotype help bring meaning to this illustration and its message. These two also act as paradigmatic signs because what they appear, is not what they are because of the opposite stereotypes dominating the individuals. For example, the male is the husband, however is not within the husband stereotype because that role is being filled by the female (wife) and vice versa. According to Dyers list, it can be assumed that the illustration has been drawn to represent a typical marriage of a wife and husband with this being communicated through gender and ethnicity. The expression (or lack-there-of) on the husband and wife is also an indicator of tired and almost scared look on the husbands face as he walks and is looking directly at his wife. And then there is his wife making no eye contact because she is the superior individual in the relationship. The props which the husband and wife are using also helps create a further stereotype to assist the audience in understanding the ‘now’ roles of the husband and wife.

In analysation of the visual social semiotics of the illustration, it can be acknowledged that the representation of this illustration is a narrative action because of it representing a story. It represents a story of the future wife, where the husband is the slave to the wife and the wife sits around reading the newspaper. This is a denotive sign which uses the text ‘Wife of Future’ to describe and anchor down the image of the wife now taking charge of the husband/male role. The interactive meaning of the illustration in terms of contact is offer because neither individuals are looking at the audience. The wife’s eye contact is not even visible in the illustration, however, the husband’s eye contact is focused upon the wife, allowing the audience to look upon the event rather than have a closer relationship with it. The distance of the illustration is a long shot, displaying more of a scenario of a random/typical married couple, allowing the audience to have no personal connections to the illustrations but perhaps a personal connection to the idea that the illustration is portraying. The point of view is slightly above, but not enough to make a difference to its portrayal of power or superiority. When referring to the information value in the illustration, there is slightly a horizontal positioning in terms of the elements with the ideal on the left and the reality on the right (from the perspective of a husband/male). There are no frame lines or contrasting in colour which relates to the communication of the illustration, thus the image is a connected frame. In terms of saliency, it is obvious that the husband has been placed as a focal point with his whole body being in view but the body of the wife being cut off. The husband is also the salient point because of his slightly larger body to the female and the amount of space he takes up in the entire illustration in comparison to the female. This illustration has a low naturalistic modality because of the unrealistic cartoon representation of a husband and wife marriage. The concept may be a correct observational modality, however, the illustration is not a representation of the view of this action by the naked eye.


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