The subject and the indexicality of the photograph

Winston, Brian and Tsang, Hing (2009) The subject and the indexicality of the photograph. Semiotica, 173 (1-4). pp. 453-469. ISSN 0037-1998

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The subject and the indexicality of the photograph
Taking as a case study the documentary Unknown White Male (UK, 2005) — a film whose theme and reception problematizes stable notions of what constitutes subjectivity — a corrective is offered to the dominant mode applying Peircean semiotics to the moving image. Cinema and media studies have tended to apply Peirce's triadic division of the sign in a limited, formalist way following the explications of his method offered by Wollen and others. However Wollen ignores Peirce's placement of photograph as indexical within the context of the iconic as well as the distinction Peirce draws between ‘instantaneous’ and ‘composite’ photographs. Moreover, Peirce's more general understanding of the importance of semiotic analysis to the overall mental well-being of the human subject, hitherto largely ignored by media scholars, is also addressed.
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/SEMI.2009.021

Abstract

Taking as a case study the documentary Unknown White Male (UK, 2005) — a film whose theme and reception problematizes stable notions of what constitutes subjectivity — a corrective is offered to the dominant mode applying Peircean semiotics to the moving image. Cinema and media studies have tended to apply Peirce's triadic division of the sign in a limited, formalist way following the explications of his method offered by Wollen and others. However Wollen ignores Peirce's placement of photograph as indexical within the context of the iconic as well as the distinction Peirce draws between ‘instantaneous’ and ‘composite’ photographs. Moreover, Peirce's more general understanding of the importance of semiotic analysis to the overall mental well-being of the human subject, hitherto largely ignored by media scholars, is also addressed.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:semotics, documentary film, Wollen, indexicality, iconicity, Semiology, broadcasting, communication, digital platforms, documentary, free expression, free speech, human rights, journalism, media ethics, media history, media technology, press
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
P Mass Communications and Documentation > P303 Film studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Media
ID Code:2143
Deposited By: Brian Winston
Deposited On:25 Jan 2010 16:28
Last Modified:18 Nov 2013 14:14

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