Communication Semiotics by Indiwan


“Honestly, this book was written by the reason I once had a difficulty on finding any text books about semiotics and how to do a research about semiotics for my thesis in 2002. Semiotics as a technique for text analysis in a qualitative approach hasn’t been too popular yet” (Wibowo, 2011 : v). That was my friend Indiwan Seto Wahyo Wibowo wrote on his book “Semiotika Komunikasi” (Communication Semiotics) in his preface. We could call it as a generous ‘revenge’ of him to write that book.

“Semiotika Komunikasi” is Mr Indiwan’s writing about semiotics experts and their semiotics theories for the beginning. Then he explained about semiotics research framework. Later on he wrote some of media research cases.

The “Semiotika Komunikasi” list of contents are :

I. Introduction

II. A brief explanation about semiotics

III. Semiotics framework

IV. Systematical writing of the semiotics research

V. President Gus Dur character assassination in the mass media

VI. Masculinity representation of father character on La Fonte Spaghetti print advertisement in Femina magazine

VII. Semiotics analysis of the construction of  President Soeharto’ death

VIII. Semiotics analysis of President SBY’s attitude about Indonesia-Malaysia border conflict in The Jakarta Post cartoon strip

We might not be able to explore more about the philosophical explanation of semiotics state-of-the art from this book. But the main advantage of this book, is that Mr Indiwan has made semiotics becomes practical. This reason positively gives us very good examples of how to analyze the textual and symbolic representation on the media.  Plus the signs reading tables are available in each case study.  “Masculinity representation of father character on La Fonte Spaghetti print advertisement in Femina magazine” was analyzed using Charles Sander Peirce’s triangle model of a sign. While “Semiotics analysis of the construction of  President Soeharto’ death” and “Semiotics analysis of President SBY’s attitude about Indonesia-Malaysia border conflict in The Jakarta Post cartoon strip” were analyzed using Roland Barthes’ denotation-connotation-myth reading. This book is highly recommended for scholar who intends to observe and interpret any signs/symbols on a media.

Those are what I could tell you about that “Semiotika Komunikasi” as far as I know in my limited comprehension about that book and semiotics. Now, it’s about my photograph of Mr Indiwan’s “Semiotika Komunikasi”.

I conceptualized the photographs above to synchronize the book’s title and the objects in a frame or a theme : “how semiotics senses the media symbols”. I am not good in presenting the book in a visual commercial/promotional purposed photography, so I tried to present “Semiotika Komunikasi” in a raw still-life way. I didn’t retouched or do digital imaging on those photographs. I did the white balancing and lightmetering manually. I captured the book and the properties on a still-life/multi table, two halogen light (one was directly to the objects, the other one was relfected), and thanks to Mas Arief for holding the buffalo paper reflector.

The eye direction of the man on the book cover to Maxim magazine cover means the book is observing the media and a woman. The sexy girl visualization and Maxim itself represent the common issue of semiotics study and feminism which focus on – as Gaye Tuchman’s symbolic annihilation theory says – how woman represented as a sexual commodity, her role is often downplayed, trivialized, and becomes the victim in the media (Williams, 2003 : 57). Judith Williamson in her Decoding Advertisements : Ideology and Meaning in Advertising (1978) and Angela McRobbie in her More : New Sexualities in Girls’ and Women’s Magazines (in Curran, Morley, Walkerdine, 1996), were the experts observing those feminism issues using semiotics analysis.

The nose direction of the man to the “The Silence of the Lambs” CD cover means he senses the symbols/signs in that film. The Silence of the Lambs, acknowledged as one of the best film in the end of 20th century, represents a media which represent symbolic cues of many theories which have been analyzed using semiotics method. Michael Aaron analyzed semiotics of gay and sexual transformation in this film based on queer theory (in Williams, Hammond, 2006). Linda Mizejewski (2004) and Neal King and Martha McCaughey (2001)  reviewed the semiotics of Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) as a feminist representation (2004). Janet Staiger examined using psychoanalysis semiotics of Freud’s “taboos and totems” of cultural meaning about gay, lesbian, and bisexual symbols in the linguistics and the scene of The Silence of the Lambs (2000).

Well, that might be the semiotics of my photograph about this semiotics book.

Book :

Wibowo, Indiwan Seto Wahyu. (2011). Semiotika Komunikasi : Aplikasi praktis bagi penelitian dan skripsi komunikasi. Jakarta : Mitra Wacana Media.

Properties :

- Maxim Indonesian edition #52/V March 2010

- CD cover of The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme) copyright 1990 Orion Pictures Corporation, MGM Home Entertainment, distributed through magixeyes – PT Magixtama Etika Indonesia

References :

Curran, James, David Morley, Valerie Walkerdine. (1996). Cultural Studies and Communications. London : Arnold.

McCaughey,  Martha, Neal King. (2001). Reel Knockouts : Violent Women in the Movies. Austin : University of Texas Press.

Mizejewski, Linda. (2004). Hardboiled & High Heeled : The Woman Detective in Popular Culture. New York & London : Routledge.

Staiger, Janet. (2000). Perverse Spectators : The Practices of Film Reception. New York : New York University Press.

Williams, Kevin. (2003). Understanding Media Theory. London : Arnold.

Williams, Linda Ruth, Michael Hammond. (2006). Contemporary American Cinema. Berkshire : Open University Press, McGraw-Hill Education

Williamson, Judith. (2007). Decoding Advertisements : Membedah Ideologi dan Makna dalam Periklanan. Yogyakarta : Jalasutra (translation of the original Decoding Advertisement : Ideology and Meaning in Advertising, 1978).

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