Exercise 4.5 – Signifier and Signified

The student is asked to read ‘Rhetoric o the Image’ by Roland Barthes, whose essay contains an analysis of an image through semiotic analysis: quantifying how meaning is constructed and/or how a message is communicated. 

Barthes describes the two levels of meaning as sign and myth; where the sign is comprised of a signifier and the signified. Myth is the level of meaning where the viewers own experience and knowledge is taken into account when they read the image. 

The student is then asked to find an advert and identify the signifiers and the signified using Barthes method. 

After collecting and reviewing a number of adverts I chose ‘Trails’ by Adidas. 

Trail running shoe advert by Adidas. A man in a red top runs through a forest trail.

Trails by Adidas

  

 

Sign
Signifier  Signified 
Trail,  

open forest 

Freedom, wilderness, open and fresh air, no barriers or rules.  
Runner  Individual, health, happiness, self-reliance, healthy living, the pursuit of health and happiness. Excitement. 
Mud Trail  Non-urban, create your own path 
Running shoe with deep grips  The wearer will not slip or fall. Can go anywhere. 4×4 all terrain. 

  

  

Being dyslexic and having visual difficulties meant that reading Barthes essay was almost impossible. It took a few days just to plough through the text before having to sit down and construct an understanding of what Barthes was trying to communicate. 

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