Literature signs and image
read the first half of Daniel Chandler’s “Signs”. Read to the end of the paragraph which ends with “…those who use them have an intrinsic meaning and require no explanation’ (Culler 1975, 5).”
Please read Chandler, Daniel. “Signs.” Semiotics For Beginners,
Please note the picture you analysis should be launched with in one year. In the chapter “Images, Power and Politics” by Sturken and Cartwright, there is a clear
distinction made by the authors in the tradition of still life painting. The paintings were either
deeply symbolic, like Henri-Horace Roland de la Porte’s “Still Life”, or a reflection of “material
objects as they appear in the world” (Sturken and Cartwright 12). When this distinction is
applied to Weegee’s photograph “The First Murder”, the practices of looking and a fascination
towards violence are revealed, making the photograph more symbolic than mimetic.
Weegee’s photograph displays the reaction of women and schoolchildren to a murder scene in
the street, calling the viewer’s attention to the act of looking at a forbidden scene. The
photographer, Weegee aka Arthur Fellig, was known for arriving at crime scenes quickly and
capturing the hard- core depictions of crime and violence in the streets of New York (Sturken
and Cartwright 10). “The First Murder” portrays a variety of expressions on the onlooker’s faces.
Each face expresses a unique expression of pain, shock, wonder and curiosity. This image does
not just display a moment in life, it also shows the emotions and thoughts running through a
person’s mind while looking at the crime scene.
This photograph of Weegee also brings the viewer’s attention to the morbid fascination that
people have towards violence. In the image, a few children, ignoring the wailing relative of the
victim, are gawking at the crime scene in shock, wonder and fascination. “The First Murder”
illustrates the raw truth about people’s reactions without any pretense or filter. Seeing the dead
body of a gangster, the children do not appear to be afraid or disgusted by the gruesome scene.
Instead, they look on with amazement and shock at the murder, something very novel to them.
This photograph also fascinates the viewers, as it shows a rare moment in a person’s life and
their honest reaction to it.
Visual images are taken for different purposes and elicit different responses from the viewers.
“The First Murder” cannot be viewed as a mimetic form of representation due to it underlying
emotions. The photograph can be interpreted differently by the people as the subjectivity and
perception differs from individual to individual. Weegee’s photograph of people’s reaction to a
crime scene is not just a brilliant capture of fleeting human emotions, it is also a source to
understand the different practices of looking and the revelation of human fascination towards