On the “The Treachery of Images”, 1929 by Reni Magritte
"The Treachery of Images" is a surrealist art work by the artist Reni Magritte. The image depicts a painting of a smoking pipe, notable a pipe which is in appearance well-crafted and can easily be associated with upper-middle to upper class individuals at the time period that the. Under the Image is the anchorage in the langue French “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.”, which translated to English reads “This is not a pipe.”. The piece presents a photo realistic image of a pipe, Magritte often used a level of photo realism in his surrealism paintings which seems to be for the purpose of proving a more relatable basis from which he can abstract, as a result his work often has dreamlike qualities. However, this does not appear to be entirely the function of photo realism in The Treachery of Images, the realism of the pipe is for more deceptive purposes, the image so closely resembles a physical pipe that it will be more likely to register as a physical pipe in the audience’s mind. The signifier has been constructed to be as indistinguishable as possible from the signified. From this the caption/anchorage acts in an intersecting manner but works to counter the information provided by the image, as it disillusions the audience in reminding them that the image is merely a signifier of a real pipe. By reminding the viewer that the only true version of a signified is the signified, where as a signifier and a sign are illusions to the signified.
One can also interpret the painting as a reference to Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”, where in the image and the noun of the pipe are the shadows on the wall and the viewers are the prisoners in the cave. When the prisoners are spectating the shadows, they don’t see the real objects from which the objects are cast — they see only the signifiers made for the signified. The prisoners in the cave think the shadows to be the true object until they see the true object, then the shadow is nothing more than a symbol of the object. The perceptual experience of an object’s shadow is wholly different to the concept of the object which that shadow creates.
The following is a video essay on the painting by Nerdwriter1 may also be of interest I’d recommend watching the video for more context and viewpoints.
On "Understanding Comics" by Scott McCloud
The aim of McCloud's comic is to elaborate and provide examples of the uses of anchorage, the paring of text and image.
In this anchorage the words are used to provide the context where as image is used to illustrate the text
In this anchorage the image provides context while the text is used for flavour, the example given is to provide a soundtrack through the use of onomatopoeia.
In this anchorage the images and words tell the exact same message, think like a young child's story book.
In this anchorage the images and words work together to increase the impact of, or elaborate on the other.
In this anchorage the image and words are disjointed from each other, following different paths of narrative. This appears in narration or monologuing.
In this anchorage the words are treated as part of an image.
In this anchorage the meanings of the words and image are used to created a third meaning, which one could not display alone.
McCloud then discusses what happen when either words or image are the carrier of weight of clarity. When it is the images that carry the weight the images become more literal, but then words can be used for; monologue; advertisement; incongruous; or broader topics. Contrastingly when words carry the weight of clarity the image can; show fragments of a scene; abstraction/expressionism; emotional information; or to depict a shift in time.
"The mixing of words and pictures is more alchemy than science."- Scott McCloud
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Design In Context
Daniel Thomas Coates, graphic designer based in the UK. Currently a student at the University of Cumbria, Carlisle.