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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Comparisons Between Signs

The advertisement I chose to analyze comes out the magazine Runner’s World, and the advertisement places a photograph of a solitary runner in a rainy country scene above the tagline “Fair-weather runners need not lace up”. What drew me to this particular advertisement was not solely the rugged scene or its placement in Runner’s World but that I connected the set of signifiers and signified in this advertisement to Hall’s discussion of pickup trucks in our textbook. The signifier to such signified—such as ruggedness, social hierarchy, and masculinity— to me is not the landscape and weather in the Runner’s World advertisement but Hall’s interpretation of similar landscapes in truck advertisements. Hall’s interpretation helped to place a meaning for the landscape and a possible connotation upon my initial reading.
Yet differences exist between the two types of advertisements. The Runner’s World advertisement emphasizes scientifically recording such factors as distance, pace, and heart rate using satellite technology in areas where such data cannot be recorded as instantaneously. On the contrary, Hall’s interpretation states nothing about such numerical certainty in pickup trucks. Hall states, “(A pickup truck’s) cargo space is usually open to the air, perhaps indicating something about the durable nature of what will be hauled,” emphasizing nothing about precise payload limits (139).
This comparison highlights two principles in Hall’s chapter on Structuralism and Semiotic Analysis. First, this example shows the importance “to ask how a given sign differs from other with which it may share some qualities” (139). Second, this comparison highlights how signs are never “fully understandable”. Although Hall mentioned nothing about payload capacity in an interpretation of advertisement depicting a pickup truck in a rugged landscape, another may draw that comparison.

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