Semiotics and Looking Deeper

An image has the ability to convey something differently to every person. What is known as the ‘signifiers’ of the image are what you see – what makes up the image. The ‘signified’ is where the image changes and where meaning is put to the image by the viewer.

Take this image for example:


Image by Taronga Zoo.


The signifiers of the image are two giraffes, and in the background is the city of Sydney. At the forefront of the image is Taronga Zoo’s logo and name. The colours in the image are vibrant; bright blue and luscious greens. The giraffes are the focal point of the image, at the front and drawing your eye to them with their unusual place in a backdrop of a city. What we get from the signifiers is the understanding that the two giraffe’s are at Taronga Zoo, in Sydney, Australia.

But what connotations do audiences take away from this image?

Is it the joy of seeing such unique creatures so close to somewhere you know?


Is it the excitement to go visit a zoo that offers wonderful animals such as giraffe’s so close to the city itself?


Is it the feeling of disappointment, anger, frustration or upset at the idea of these animals being put into a place they don’t originally come from?

The audiences’ view will be shaped by their context, knowledge, values and beliefs.
The emotion and connotation that you take away from this text will be dependent on a range of things, including your view on zoos in general, your education and knowledge on the practice and keeping of giraffe’s (and possibly other animals) at Taronga Zoo, your opinion on the animals themselves and whether they interest you enough to visit the Zoo etc.

Whether you believe that Zoos and in particular Taronga Zoo are helping the conservation and understanding of Giraffe’s and therefore view the text with a positive, uplifting perspective or you believe that Zoo’s are cruel, unjust and damage the animal’s wellbeing and therefore view the text from a negative, frustrated perspective, this is dependent on you, your experiences and the ideals you have.

So, even though the signifiers of the image are the same for every person that sees it, what is signified to you could be completely different to what is signified to someone else, demonstrating that texts are not linear and they carry more than one meaning.



One thought on “Semiotics and Looking Deeper

  1. georgiemacrae says:

    Your range of opinion in the three examples of interpretations regarding the Taronga Zoo image work really well in emphasising your points of media texts being non-linear and carrying more than one meaning- A point that is incredibly important when it comes to semiotics. These different interpretations definitely depend on different individuals cultural, socio-cultural and personal backgrounds of each person. For example, someone young who has no knowledge of what a concept like animal cruelty is will definitely view zoo’s in an excited manner, while those who have researched and seen for themselves what can actually go on inside of a zoo will definitely have an opposite opinion. I really enjoyed reading your post, it was incredibly well structured and one of the most enlightening in regards to semiotics I’ve read so far. It would be really interesting if you even include how you interpreted the media text and why you interpreted it that way.


    Liked by 1 person

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