As an insider of popular culture, Kruger very familiar with articulationbetween mass media and advertising. Thereplicated black and white photography from the 50s combined with graphics andtext that Kruger is known for relates to her background in graphic design. Althoughseemingly blurring the boundary between commercial and art, Kruger actuallymakes use of the accessibility of media to generate meaning. She achieves this by makinguse of semiotic, in other words, messages not apparent but coded using signs. 1As Peirce had said, the sign’s role is to connect the mind of the viewer withthe world.2Both text and image are coded in her work and it is only when we combine themtogether that we can arrive at the meaning.
Therefore, when we look at Kruger’swork it is important to decipher the connotation behind the denotation. Such anindexical force embedded in the work encourages us to search the pictorial spacerather than simply adopting a straightforward understanding. How then is message codedin Image one? First of all, Kruger breaks up the monotonous images and languagepeople are bombarded with every day by addressing the viewer directly – such asthe use of “your” in figure 1. Then, she alludes to the associations toadvertisement by using techniques such as font choice and the logo like redpanels. The typography chosen is Futura Bold, used extensively inadvertisements, logos, film and TV, making a direct connection with mass media.Kruger’s concept is to merge commercial and art by making her artistic style intoa brand image. The short piece of text added on top of the image – “your bodyis a battlefield” is very much like a slogan.
Kruger also uses media andpolitical tactics such as tabloid, authoritative and direct language to investigate social relations through the power ofthe words. Moreover, the eye catching redcolor also points to the merge of art and commercial, as it is a color oftenused in logos or commercial use to grab attention. Not to mention, this featureis made into a symbolic sign by continues repetition throughout all her works. Onthe other hand, photography is another important sign. It is a replicated blackand white photo, cropped to strip it out of its original meaning and context. Thewoman can also be considered as an ionic sign.
It is embedded with an semic code, one that draws into culturalstereotypes and the background information a viewer has. Dualismis the basis of Semiotics and many of Kruger’s work depicts this dichotomy –denotation versus connotation. The apparent meaning and deeper meaning coincideswith each other as image is translated into words, and text becomes image. Byusing text assisting image – a common tactic used in advertisement, Krugerforms an anchorage of meaning, forcing the audienceto interpret the media in a more in depth and precise way.1Krauss, Rosalind. “In the Name of Picasso.” October 16 (1981): p.5-222Hatt, Michael.
, and Charlotte. Klonk. Art History : A Critical Introduction to ItsMethods. Manchester; New York : New York: Manchester University Press ;Distributed Exclusively in the USA by Palgrave, 2006. p.210