Barthes’ Connotation Procedures: 3. Objects.

As mentioned in a recent post I will elaborate on Barthes’ connotation procedures in separate posts. Here comes the first one starting with Barthes’ third procedure: objects.  There are, according to Barthes in his article, 6 areas for procedures in total.

3. Objects

Objects in themselves have connotative content. Barthes uses an example with a book case that might connote intellectualism. He states that “The interest lies in the fact that the objects are accepted inducers of associations of ideas (book-case = intellectual).. ” They can also work as symbols, he argues.

Some other examples; when you see an image of a big man in a close up, such a shot might connote power or dominance. When you have an image of a tiny woman that might connote fragility or fright. Obviously all object have second meaning connotations moving from neutral (in a neutral shot) to excessive in a more deliberately composed photograph.

Take a look at the “object” below. It is the rear of a car, but not any other car. It is the rear of a Bugatti Veyron at display in Berlin. Depending on the degree of car enthusiast you may or may not be, this picture will connote extreme wealth, extreme speed and excessive luxury to you. If you are not into cars at all, you might accept that this is indeed a stylish object of some class.

It is pretty clear from this picture (to me anyway), that images indeed contain second level contents; read connotations. This image does not only denote: rear of a car, but it strongly connote things like wealth and luxury, as well.

For more on connotations (and denotations) you could go here.

Bugatti in Berlin

Copyright 2008: Knut Skjærven. 

Library Thing. (Roland Barthes: Image, Music, Text, pages 15-31, Fontana Press 1977, UK. Essays selected and translated by Stephen Heath).

Buy the English translation of Barthes’ work. Follow the link and support the site:


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