Roland Barthes “Rhetoric of the Image” essay from Image – Music – Text, Translated by Stephen Heath. Hill and Wang, 1977. (excerpt)
Question & Prompts
- How do images hold and convey meaning?
- How do we understand them?
- What are they trying to say?
- How do they persuade and influence us?
After reading this excerpt, images convey meaning by using many elements like language (Texts on ads or posters), the image or product that’s being featured, and the product itself. For example, something like Heinz Tomato. Once you look at it, you’ll know its meaning.
To understand images, we have to look at the product or images being featured. I’ll use the previous product I mentioned, Heinz Tomato Ketchup, as an example. Once looking at it, you’ll know this product is an American product. You may have used ketchup many times before and the most common one is Heinz. If you have never tried it and seen it before, you can take a close look at the image and ask yourself some questions. Is this a product I’m affiliated with? Have I used the product before but forgot the name? Sometimes, the product may indicate what kind of product it is.
For example, let’s take a look at this Heinz TV commercial image I have here. Here, the commercial shows three flavors of ketchup by Heinz. Organic, Simply, and Blend of Veggies. You can see that they are trying to advertise their products so people would buy them to enjoy it. They also show the product being used on the French Fries on the plate. Looking at it would make you hungry and want to try this product.
In this case, the commercial would try to make us hungry that would lead us to buying the products Heinz featured in this commercial. There are many ways they can advertise their products. They can make a poster ad, post information about it on their social media platforms, on their website, or TV commercial. In this case, they would try to hire some people to act in the TV commercial and make the product look delicious. If the message is conveyed, people will definitely come buy your product and they would make a big sale out of it. This would influence more and more people into this company’s product.
- Linguistic https://hyp.is/R7X3mj85EeyebFv-oQlu_Q/openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/spevackcomd3504fa21/files/2021/10/Barthes.pdf
- Arbitrary https://hyp.is/LM-qJj89EeyTxDtAECdAPQ/openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/spevackcomd3504fa21/files/2021/10/Barthes.pdf