October 7, 2012

Are you a symbol or an icon??

When it came to the reading I seemed to fully agree with McCloud on his views of words and symbols. I especially loved it when he made clear examples such as the car running into another car and how a victim would react. I too like most people would explain to an officer what occurred by using the words he/she hit me. With these readings I like to make sure I understand the complex concepts being discussed by coming up with relatable examples. So I know nurses use the terminology the IV blew. When you brake down this sentence in literal terms it seems as though a vein has the ability to blow wind with its imaginary lips. When really the nurses are stating that the vein has raptured. Same with my tire blew it has no lips it has just popped/burst. I’m pretty sure I understood this concept but when McCloud moved onto cartooning I am not positive I grasped the concept.

So McCloud states that cartooning simplifies an icon. He focused on the abstraction of human faces. So if I were to present you with a Michael Meyers mask negative message or thought would initially be instilled in your brain. I would think universally people identify the mask as scary or frightening, and associate it with murder. On page 27 he says symbols are meant to represent concepts, ideas, and philosophies; icons are meant to represent a person, place, thing, or idea, and that pictures are images meant to resemble their subjects. What my issue is where do you draw the line between symbols and icons. When I think about the apple sign plastered across my laptop I would usually use the word symbol to describe it. But this does not represent a concept, philosophy, or idea. If I change it to an icon it seems to suite this particular viewer identification better by drawing your attention away from a literal apple you eat, and conveying what the company really wants. Which is a way for them to communicate to people awareness of their product. So hopefully we discuss symbols and icons in depth. 


Josh Johnson said...

I can see where you are confused when you are trying to figure out how to refer to your apple "figure" on your laptop as a symbol or an icon. That too confuses me as well. Of course both terms are related no doubt, in my opinion i feel that a an "icon" is a "symbol." For example we always hear how Michael Jackson is an icon. Many people look up to him still even to this day as the King of Pop the best in the business. That reputation that name, or that Icon (Michael Jackson) symbolizes many things. So the apple on your computer i would say is a symbol. An apple alone represents one thing, seeing a picture of an the apple on your laptop represents the icon of the Macbook, and the company and all of their entities. Im sure i probably didn't help because as i was writing this i confused myself a little, but i feel like thats how i separate the two. I too am confused with the difference, but that is how i interpret the difference between the two.

Michelle Macchio said...

I understand your confusion between an "icon" and a "symbol". McCloud defines "icon" as any image used to represent a person, place, thing, or idea. From my reading of it, he places "icon" as the broad category that encompasses the following
"symbols"-images used to represent concepts ideas and philosophies
(masks, flags, company logos, a peace sign);
"icons of language, science and communication ... of the practical realm" (numbers, letters, punctuation); and
"pictures"-images that resemble their subject (drawing of a car, or of a pipe, or a leaf)
(McCloud 27)

I hope this helps clarify the distinction McCloud makes between "icon" and "symbol". A symbol is a kind of icon, hence the difficulty in decidedly calling it one or the other. it's like calling an apple "fruit". apple:fruit :: symbol:icon

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