Staffordshire University

 

 

Module Title: Visual
Communication

 

 

 Module Code: GRAPH40087

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‘What are the implications of
Roland Barthes’s essay ‘The Death of the Author’ for visual communicators.

                                                                           

 

by

 

 

Sam Grosvenor

 

 

Date: 12/13/2017

 

 

Word Count: 1014

 

 

Tutor: Lucas Swann

Roland Barthes theorises that the
author is not an author, but instead is a “scripter” which eliminates the idea
of creation and discovery of an idea or text. The author simply becomes someone
who collates pre-existing text and or quotations, and life experiences to
create something then it is up to the reader to give it meaning. The author is
unable to distinct a meaning of their work or even if they even created it.
What are the implications of this for visual communicators?

 

 

If an author is no longer author
anymore and is now a “scripter”, visual communicators are incapable of original
authenticity and are now collators of their education.Using knowledge and
findings to construct,for example new styles would not be new, but merely
undiscovered, therefore they have always existed but it’s down to scripter(s)
to fixate pre-existing ideas and pioneer these styles. Barthes theorises that
words are merely symbols, that are then left to the reader to give meaning, giving
the reader authority to bridge the text into life experiences and permit the
text into definition.

 

Once the author is gone, the claim
to “decipher” a text becomes quite useless. To give an author to a text is to
impose upon that text a stop clause, to furnish it with final signification, to
close the writing (Barthes 1964).

 

Using this Barthes is making it
clear that the author’s authority and credibility of their own work is no
longer applicable. Remove an author, and there is no need to decipher a text. There
is no meaning to be read into as the text has no authority behind it, no way of
giving it an ending and or meaning. The need to give and allow meaning has
disappeared and the text has lost its finished value.The text is now down to
the reader to understand and give significance to. From this, visual
communicators work can be given the same treatment. Take away the artist and
the work can’t be deciphered through the artist; the work merely becomes
unfurnished and once again the audience become the credible ones. Allowing the
audience to find meaning in the work without the closure of an artist.

 

 

The field of visual communication
is affected by this because without credibility and closure of an artist to
finalise work will anybody want to become a visual communicator? Without the
gratification of being able to have authority over the work, visual
communicators have no satisfaction of being able to be appreciated by their
target audience. The credibility goes to each individual who view the work resulting
in no rewarding aspect of visual communication. Referring to authors now being
scripters, and collators of their education and experiences, visual
communicators would also now be classed as scripters. Using citations to
communicate an idea visually, is the same concept. “the text is a tissue of
citations, resulting from the thousand sources of culture” (Barthes 1964). The
visuals of visual communication would be the “text” expressing how the visuals
are just a layer built upon the many sources that the work had been created
with. 

 

Theorising with the concept of the
reader bridging the text into life Barthes states “Life can only imitate the
book, and the book itself is only a tissue of signs, a lost, infinitely remote
imitation” (Barthes 1964). Authors are imitating from citations and life to
create books therefore producing a cycle of imitation that is infinite. Visual
communicators in turn are also imitating from life and citations creating the
infinite cycle. Ultimately stuck in a constant revolving cycle and falling into
the same category of authors becoming scripters.

This infinite cycle isn’t just
applicable to authors and visual communicators but any type of communication of
that matter. For example, music is a form of communication that is widely used
and received. Apply the idea of the infinite imitation and music also fall into
the same category of visual communication and authors.

 

In theory human beings aren’t the
same they were an hour ago or even a week ago. Taking the aspect of time into
equation for the text to be produced the claim of personal belonging to the
text is false because time is constantly moving, and the being is constantly
changing. Therefore, visual communicators fall victim to this as the visuals
never finish as intended as the communicator initially decided. The collation
of citations and ideaswhilst the visual is being created will affect and change
the end outcome if not in small subtle ways, in major changes as well.

 

In conclusion Barthes theory
implicates among visual communicators and visual communication heavily. Visual
communicators aren’t granted with the gratification of having authority of the
work, and are now collators of citations and education. Using knowledge and
life to influence the visuals and how they are communicated. This theory
implies that the real authority should go to the reader or in visual
communication the target audience. This is because it is down to the audience
to give the visual meaning or relate it to life and allow correlation to
explain the work. Furthermore, if you remove the author or in this case visual
communicator, there is no need to decipher the work for meaning as there is no
finish to it. There is no need furnish to the visuals with a communicator
denying the need for meaning. The work would then just become what the audience
would make it.

It would become a collation of
citations and comparisons of imitations. However, if the communicator is taken
away would anyone want to become a visual communicator if there is no need for
a finish upon a work of visuals. No gratification or satisfaction.  The world of visual communication would be
altered into something completely different. Works of visual communication that
were originally appreciated and received to such a high gratification standard
would be majorly brought down from an imaginary pedestal status, and would be
just visuals that have no meaning gave with them, but visuals the audience is
now gratified for. In turn the hypothetical death of visual communicators.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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