Exercise 4.2 – Reading pictures (P.101)

Rip out an advertising image from a newspaper supplement and circle and write on
as many parts of the image as you can. Comment on what it is, what it says about
the product and why you think it’s there. You could use this as the basis for your
assignment if you feel it’s taking you somewhere interesting. Or you could adopt this method for your assignment preparation.
Come back to this exercise when you’ve reached the end of Part Four and see if you
can add anything to your analysis.

The advert I have chose is for Manuel Canovas from Homes & Garden. The reason why I chose it is because I had not heard of Manual Canovas before I saw the advert and looking at it, it was not immediately apparent what the advert was for.

Manuel Canovas – Paris

Looking at the image it shows a room in a house with some furniture, a sofa, chair, a couple of tables, a light, pot plant and rug. The room has white walls and ceiling and the rug on the floor is a light colour, possibly pale grey, over light wood parquet flooring. From the shadows we can ascertain that light is coming from windows on the right hand side of the room and this is further confirmed by the presence of long patterned curtains.

The chair in the foreground is covered in a geometric design fabric with a red motif and a pale contrast and the seat cushion and back sit on an angular gold metal frame. The sofa opporsite is covered in a light red or pink fabric with darker red cushions and some scatter cushions whci are similar in colour to the fabric used to cover the seat but with a different design. The gold colour of the seat frame is replicated with a gold framed table next to the sofa on which there is a gold lamp and next to which is a gold plant holder containing a large green plant.

The green of the plant is echoed by the green of a green and white plant pot on a glass and metal coffee table that is positioned betweent the chair and the sofa and also a tapesty or painting which hangs on the wall above the sofa which possibly deptics a view from a desert island looking out to see. The are some accessories in the room which accent the overall colour scheme, a white conch by the gold table lamp and on the coffee table some pink crystals and what looks like a gold tray.

Although the furniture and wall-hanging have a mid 20th century feel, the height of the room, the depth and ornateness of the coving and the style and size of the radiator by the curtain suggest that the room is in house from an earlier period, possibly 19th or early 20th century.

Looking at the image I was immediately drawn to the wall hanging and then to the plant probaby because they contrasted with the red/gold of the furnishings. The decsion to have green elements in the picture was obviously considered and the greens complement the red tones as they are opposite on the colour wheel. I was unsure what the advert was for and this was compounded by my focus being drawn to the wall-hanging so I search online to discover more about the advertiser and on their website was the image below a larger version of the cropped image in the advert. Interestingly, when I asked my wife what the advert was for she got it straightaway; fabric.

Manuel Canovas – Paris

So what does it all mean? My interpretation is based on the larger image found on the website. Looking at the room as a whole the image signifies order, the symentry of the chairs the tables with the lamps, complete with matching but not identical white ornaments, the regularity of the cushions on the sofa are suggesting to the reader that by purchasing the right fabrics they can have order and tranquility in their lives. The presence of gold in the image signifies wealth and the shape of the sofa and the chairs in particular indicate modernity but not necessarily contemporary modernity. The white walls, as well as being neutral to show the colour of the fabrics, also indicate simplicity and purity whilst the open door on the left hand side signifies the ability to enter this world of tranquility, order, wealth and style. The painting, the objects on the display stand on the right as well as the furniture combined with the lack of television (or books) signify that this is a room for people who are knowledgeable about modern art and design and the light coming through the open curtains on the right hand side can be interpreted as having a religious quality; in this room you are almost in heaven.

Deconstruction the image

The signifiers in this image are the chairs, sofa, curtains an so on; the elements within the room and how they are arranged. These elements are also what is denoted in the image.

What I think is signified by the image is style, calm, affluence, aspiration and good taste. I think these connotaions are more apparent in the image from the website than the smaller crop found in the magazine.

The sign of the image is that what is sigfied, taste, style, afflence etcetera, can be achieved by aquiring the right possessions, in this case furniture with tasteful fabrics.

The image is balanced and consdiered with the use of reddy/gold colours and a lot of symmetry. Altough the wall-hanging disturbs this to some extent because of its central position in the image I do no think it can be regarded a punctum element within the picture. In my view the punctum element is the green plant on the right of the image. I think this is the case as the green is more vibrant than that of the wall-hanging and also because it is off centre within the frame and not balanced by a corresponding element on the left of the image. This combination of colour and position make it stand out in a way in which the footstool, left of centre with no counter-balancing piece but gold, does not so making the plant the punctum element.

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