This sample essay on Iconic Plane offers an extensive list of facts and arguments related to it. The essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and the conclusion are provided below.
This Is still part of the semiotic approach since It Is still based on the signifier- signified relationship. But here it Is not that material elements of the work that are dealt with as In the basic semiotic plane, but this has to do with the particular features, aspects, and qualities of the Image which are the signifier.
The Image Is regarded as an “iconic sign” which means, beyond its narrow associations with religious images in the Byzantine style, that it is a unique sign with a unique, particular and highly nuanced meaning, as different from a conventional sign such as traffic or street sign which has a single literal meaning. The iconic plane includes the choice of the subject which may bear social and political implications.
An example in art history is the French realist artist Gustavo Courser’s choice of workers and ordinary people in his paintings, instead of the Olympian gods and goddesses or heroes from Greek and Roman antiquity that were the staple of classical and academic art up to the nineteenth century.
We can ask the question: Is the subject meaningful In terms of the socio-cultural context, does It reflect or have a bearing on the values and Ideologies arising In a particular place ND time?
One proceeds to consider the presentation of the image and its relationship to the viewer.
If the subject is a human figure, does it address the viewer directly; is it self- contained or self-absorbed? What kind of subject-viewer relationship is implied by the subject through his facial expression, body language, costume and accessories, natural or social background? Is it a relationship of peers or one of dominance and subordination? Is It a friendly, ironic, aggressive, or hostile relationship, and all possible nuances thereof?
Most examples of Philippine genre, for instance, are based n the concept of the stage or tableau which Is oriented towards a large public audience which It Is aware of and directly addresses?a mark of the social cohesiveness of rural peasant society as well as the extended Filipino family system in which all members of society have their kinship appellations. John Berger in his Ways of Seeing has an engrossing study of paintings with the female nude as subject, many of which he demonstrates as stemming from sexist attitudes refrying (reducing to object status) or commingling women with respect to the implied male viewer.
Also part of the iconic plane is the positioning of the figure or figures, whether frontal, in profile, three-fourths, etc. And the significations that arise from these different presentations. Does the painting show strong central focusing with the principal figure occupying the center space or Is It decremented and the painting asymmetrical In composition? How do these presentations contribute to different meanings? Does the subject or subjects have a formal or a casual air? How does one describe the central figure’s stance: poised, relaxed, indifferent, provocative, or aloof? ND accessories? O the setting, natural, social or domestic? What is the relative scaling of the figures from large to small? What bearing does this have to the meaning of the work? Ulna’s Tampon brings to the fore the artist’s sensitivity to body language. How do the postures of the man and the woman convey their emotional attitudes? In portraits, where is the gaze of the subject directed? This is important not only in defining the relationship of subject and viewer but also in describing pictorial space.
Degas’ painting Woman with Chrysanthemums shows a middle-aged woman beside a large vase of flowers. More importantly, her intense and scheming look projects an imaginary line to a figure or figures that are the objects of her gaze outside the pictorial field of the painting into an implied open and expanded space. This work deconstructs the classical conventions of portraiture. Is there cropping of the figure or figures? What is the significance of the kind of cropping used? Some kinds of cropping are intended to create a random, arbitrary effect as against the deliberate and controlled.
Other kinds isolate a segment of the subject, such as the hand or the feet, in order to draw attention to its physical ululates–when a part stands for the whole, a peasant’s bare feet can tell us about an entire life of labor and exploitation. Some artists use cropping as a device to imply the extension of the figure into the viewer’s space. Here one also takes into account the relationship of the figures to one another, whether massed, isolated, or Juxtaposed in terms of affinity or contrast.
A painting may expand or multiply its space by having not Just one integral image but several sets of images in montage form, from the same or different times and places. These may occur in temporal sequence to constitute a narrative or may take the form of emulations facets or aspects of reality. Serial images which show an image multiplied many times, as in Andy Whorl’s Marilyn Monroe or Campbell Soup Cans, convey significations arising from the blatant consumerism of the advanced capitalist societies of the First World.
The style of figuration is an important part of the iconic plane. The figurative style is not mere caprice, passing fashion, or the artist’s personal scripture; beyond these, it implies a particular re-presentation or interpretation of the world, a world view, if not ideology. Classical figuration basically follows the proportion of 7 1/2 to 8 heads to he entire figure in its pursuit of ideal form, as in a formal studio portrait with the subject enhanced by make-up, all imperfections concealed.
Realist figuration is based on the keen observation of people, nature, and society in the concern for truth of representation, thus creating true portraits of individuals or exposing the poverty and squalor that arise from social inequities. Impressionist figuration is fluid and informal, often catching the subject unawares like a candid camera. Expressionist figuration follows emotional impulses and drives, thus often involving distortion that comes from strong emotion. However, the viewer should not be too anxious to find original styles that have gone far obeyed the School of Paris.
It is important to be sensitive to the meaning-conveying potential of highly individual styles. In the basic semiotic plane which deals with the material aspect of the work and in the iconic plane which deals with the features of the image itself, one can see that as the signifier cannot be separated from the signified, concrete fact or material data cannot be divorced from value; in other words, fact is value-laden and value or ideological meaning is derived from material fact.