Arsifa Deliyana

Home » Uncategorized » Week 7 Visual Semiotics & Photography

Week 7 Visual Semiotics & Photography


Semiotic Analysis of Turbulent by Shirin Neshat

In Turbulent (1998), a man and a woman are singing on opposite sides of the gallery space. The element of narrative was minimal as it was simply one exchange of song between the male and female singer. The main conceptual device in this film was the notion of opposites between men and women in relation to nature and culture.

Symbol Signifier Signified Meaning
Scenes in the screen

(Iconic Sign)

Left scene vs right scene in one screen Different scene Two images projected on two opposite walls let the viewers decide which side to turn to and which side to miss, and in doing so, in a way they become the editors of the piece.

(Iconic Sign)

Black-gray-white Something “nostalgic” or historic The ambience of the movie was made for delivering topic to the audience in relation to nature and culture.

(Iconic Sign)

Male and female singer Adult man vs woman It was more about looking at the contrast between men and women.
Colors of cloths

(Iconic Sign)

White and black outfit Bright vs dark, active vs passive Male singer wearing white outfit represents active subject because white is like spotlight – grab attention. Female singer dressed in black is in passive.

(Iconic Sign)

Full auditorium vs empty auditorium Crowded audience vs no audience This scenes tell the situation where male is positioned to be listened and followed, while the female is way back.
Appreciation of Audience

(Iconic Sign)

Audience gives applause vs no reaction Eager spectators vs silent audience It’s almost a call and response, and a very generous feminist piece, where male singer has responsive audience, while the female has impressed viewers.
Point of view

(Iconic Sign)


Male singer sings facing the camera vs female singer facing away from camera


Both face the camera


Straightforward look vs


The image isn’t quite the same as it was when we started. I wanted to reverse the situation so that at the end, she is no longer hidden. Having clearly proved herself through her unbelievable performance, she appears relieved and peaceful whereas he comes across as shocked and at a loss.
Camera Movement

(Iconic Sign)

Steady vs circling camera movement Stable vs inconstant and movement The camera stationary with the male singer, but circling the camera around the female singer, particularly as she reaches the climax of her song. The fast circular camera movement around her was meant to reiterate her mental state, her madness, her rage.

(Indexical Sign)

Male vs female voice

Singing with lyrics vs murmuring

Public and verbal vs wordless and solitary This shows that they are physically and emotionally caught in between the two sides. Man tend to acts while woman feels toward things.

(Indexical Sign)

Traditional music vs totally improvised music Conventional music vs modern music  Through the music, the film deliver the notion of opposites of a conformist versus a rebel.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: