Forum B

Please look at the following images and attend to one or more of the first three questions as well as the fourth question.

Question #1:

pink_triangle pinktridolo

Do some research on the pink triangle as depicted above?  Is the pink triangle a symbol, icon, or index or a combination of two or all three?  Please justify your answers?  How does appropriation configure into the use of the pink triangle and what does appropriation teach us about discourses in place?

Question #2


Would you categorize this statue as an icon or symbol or both or neither?  What is the reason for your answers?  What does this statue teach us about the the ways in which power and difference are intertwined with discourses in place?

Question #3:

CautionSign-IllegalsCrossing Near International Border. Southern U.S.

How would you categorize this road sign–icon, symbol, or index? What are the reasons for your answers? Who do you think erected these signs along the border and why? Who benefits and who doesn’t? In what  specific ways?

Question 4:

Overall, based on this exercise, how do the images above complicate our understanding of signs in ways that Scollen and Scollen do not attend to in Discourses in Place?  What can we learn from the images about indexicality or the context-dependency of signs?

4 responses to “Forum B

  1. To answer question 1, I would consider the triangle to be a symbol and possibly an icon depending on how the triangle is shown. Historically, in relation to the first picture shown, the pink triangle (pointed downward) was a part of the color coding system used during the Holocaust to identify and categorize the inmates within the concentration camps. However, the triangle is also seen as-when inverted upward- a symbol of gay pride and their rights which coincides with the more popular symbol of homosexuality, the rainbow flag.

    I would say that the pink triangle would be a mixture of a symbol and an icon because although it is not a typical symbol that you would find on a keyboard, I still believe it to be a conventional sign that has resembles meaning relating back to Holocaust and Nazi Germany. Having this discourse in a place could possibly stand out an indication that homosexuality is still not fully accepted in America, as well as other countries and that people are still willing to accept this symbol as apart of normalized civilization, although, I believe it is just a way to still nonverbally show their arrogance against homosexuals.

    From this exercise it is clear that the definitions of icon, symbol and index do not play a part into every single sign in the way the Scollen and Scollen define them as; in some instances these signs are a mixture of one or two indexicality and i’m sure if the intention behind every sign is what is implied just by passing it. YOu learn how dependent we are on these signs to guide us in the “right” direction, or do the “right” thing.

  2. Olivia Greig
    Forum B
    January 27, 2010

    1. The pink triangle is a symbol that depicts so much about a person. It labels a person by their sexual orientation which predispositions them for further judgment by peers. The triangle, which is so simple and common in our lives as a geometric shape, is used in many ways other than describing sexual preference. The color choice of the triangle and the direction in which it is pointed is the most influential in determining the meaning of its symbol. A triangle alone would not justify if someone were of homosexual orientation. In the 2nd photo where the pink triangle is on the hill in San Francisco, it is more of an iconic symbol rather than an object. The placement on the hill symbolizes the rise and excess in population of gays in San Francisco. The use of appropriation in the second photo is evident because the triangle was put up without permission or care about reaction. Appropriation teaches us that there is a sense of freedom of speech in public space. In public space, we are given the chance to be free and live in a life with out exclusions and inclusions.
    2. This statue is a symbol because without prior knowledge of the Nazi movement, this statue would have no double meaning. Visually it is an Indian greeting people, but with knowledge it is an insulting and anti Semitic gesture. The gesture itself is meant to portray power and superiority. The placement itself represents how in a public space, there are no regulations or boundaries.
    3. This road sign shows a family running and fleeing the boarder of Mexico to the USA. This shows the exclusion of Mexicans in the United States and portrays them as runaways and criminals. The government most likely erected this sign to try and help control the illegal immigrants fleeing across the boarder. As Americans, we benefit from this sign because our jobs and our safety as legal citizens of this country. The immigrants are defiantly excluded and do not benefit from this sign. The punishments and repercussions for illegally entering the United States are very harsh. The sign is only a warning for something that could potentially lead to police brutality.
    4. The exercises do not prove that there are clear definitions for icon, symbol, and index. I concluded that each photo was a combination of the three. I defiantly saw symbolism in every aspect of these photos. Every day we may pass by these signs with a blind eye, but when you are told to study them and really concentrate on the meanings, you come to realize that they are not so simple after all. In fact, these “hidden” contexts are fairly complex.

  3. The first image is a photograph of a line of men at a concentration camp during the holocaust with pink triangles on their shoulders. During the holocaust Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, and other “social outcasts” (as believed by Adolf Hitler) were organized into camps and lived under poor conditions; many of these people were executed at these camps. The men in this photo are wearing pink triangles, representing that they are “out” homosexuals. In this instance, I see that sign as a symbol. The triangle does not represent homosexuality through graphic display, but rather stands for it; one would need to be told that the triangle represents homosexuality, it is not apparent from merely studying the sign. However, individuals who have been educated about the holocaust know what it represents. Personally, with a Jewish background, I was educated on the Holocaust starting at an early age. Seeing a yellow star or a pink triangle, I immediately associate it with what it represented during that period. I would not have known their meaning, though, if I were not educated on this historical event. Perhaps people in some areas are not knowledgable of the Holocaust and therefore find no meaning to the image.

    Reading through Scollon and Scollon’s book I gained an understanding of how to differentiate between symbols, icons, and indexes, however just like any subject, textbook knowledge is not enough to fully understand a concept. There is a factual understanding of information and an emotional understanding, and in the case of public discourse one cannot get the emotional feeling of a sign unless they get it from a real life example. The fact that this is a photograph gives validity to this picture, telling us that it actually happened; homosexuals were captured for being who they were. The real photograph tells us this actually happened. This visual image invokes pity within me for the men in the picture. Because I can see what is happening I feel I have experienced it in some way. And ultimately, the pink triangle is a symbol of homosexuality, but also of persecution and hate.

  4. Amanda Rhoads
    Forum B
    January 28, 2010

    I would categorize this statue as both a symbol and an icon. He is an icon because he seems to be representing some sort of Indian reservation or Native American land. He is also a symbol because I believe the words on his belt and the way he is standing, with his arm up probably represents a specific tribe he is in. This statue has made it clear as it also stated in the book, that without being apart of or knowing much about Native Americans it is hard for me to read these signs clearly because I am not exposed to them. However if I were more knowledgeable in this area these symbols and icons would mean much more to me and I would probably have a completely different view and meaning for them. Overall I feel that signs seem to contradict other signs and ideals we have for our communities. The pictures I have just looked at are good examples of signs that could possibly be misread on a daily basis. Such as the sign of the women dragging her daughter across the street. Other countries may view this sign as controversial because of the way the child is being depicted in the sign. Depending on people’s backgrounds and cultures I think all signs are objective and therefore can have many different meanings.

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