New terms and ideas that I am being exposed to in the book Practices of Looking by Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright.

] Means of production [

In marxist theory, the means of production are the ways in which a society makes use of the natural resources of the world around it to make useful things. In Marxist theory, those who own the means of production are also in control of the ideas that circulate in a society’s media industries.

] Representation [

The act of portraying, depicting, symbolizing, or presenting the likeness of something. Language, the visual arts, and media are systems of representation that function to depict and symbolize aspects of the real world. Representation is often seen as distinct from simulation, in that a representation declares itself to be re-presenting some aspect of the real, whereas a simulation has no referent in the real.

] Mimesis [

A concept that originates with the Greeks that defines representation as a process of mirroring or imitating the real.

] Social Constructionist Theory [

Asserts that much of what has been taken as fact is socially constructed through ideological forces, language, economic relationships, and so forth. This approach understands the meaning of things to be derived from how they are constructed through systems of representation, such as images and language, rather than to have meaning separate from human interpretation. Thus, we can only make meaning of the world around us through these systems of representation, and they, in effect, construct that material world for us.

] Black-boxed [

The inability of the user to see inside a machine and how it functions. What gets boxed are the qualities and capabilities of a particular technology that are not visible to its user.

] Connotative [

In semiotics, all the social, cultural and historical meanings that are adding to a sign’s literal meaning. Connotative meanings rely on that cultural and historical context of the image and its viewers’ lived, felt knowledge of those circumstances. Connotation thus brings to an object or image the wider realm of ideology, cultural meaning, and value systems of a society. According to Barthes, myth occurs when we read connotative meanings as denotative (i.e. literal) meanings, and thus naturalize what are in fact meanings derived from complex social ideologies.

] Denotative [

In semiotics, the literal, face value of a sign. The denotative meaning of a rose is a flower. However, in any given context, a rose is likely to have connotative meanings (such as romanticism, love, or loyalty) that add social, historical, and cultural (connotative) meaning to its denotative meaning.

] Semiotics [

A theory of signs, sometimes called semiology, concerned with the ways in which things are vehicles for meaning.

] Photographic Truth [

When a photo is perceived to be an unmediated copy of the real world, to have a trace of reality skimmed off the very surface.

] Myth (Barthes) [

Refers to the ideological meaning of a sign that is expressed through connotation.

] Ideology [

The shared set of values and beliefs that exist within a given society and through which individuals live out their relations to social institutions and structures.

] Code [

The implicit rules by which meanings get put into social practice and can therefore be read by their users. Codes involve a systematic organization of signs.

] Appropriation [

The act of borrowing, stealing, or taking over others’ meanings to one’s own ends. Cultural appropriation is the process of borrowing and changing the meaning of commodities, cultural products, slogans, images, or elements of fashion.

] Icon [

An image or person that refers to something beyond its individual components, something that acquired symbolic significance. Icons are often perceived to represent universal concepts, emotions, and meanings.

] Overdetermination [

A term that in its usage in Marxist theory indicates a case in which several different factors work together to make up the meaning of a social situation. For example, the popularity of the Mona Lisa is overdetermined both by artistic qualities within the painting and by mythologies surrounding the woman in the painting as well as the fact that it is known as one of the most famous paintings.

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