Social Semiotics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Building on the affordances of the notion of Illustrator as socially engaged communicator (Leishman, 2018) this paper will review the opportunities of illustration when intentionally situated in digital platforms, specifically social media and augmented reality. I will argue how in these evolving media/text-image relationships as part of multimodal “social semiotics” (Van Leeuwen, 2005), illustration can be regarded as a container for other meanings to held and effectively shared. I will also consider the concept of intericonicity against my contention that illustration can also pull through (in terms of signification) extra non-linguistic meaning from mirroring, referring, or agitating against situated digital culture tropes. Furthermore, the ongoing digital prerogative that sees the derealisation of photographic image through digital filter and software manipulation, makes the photograph unreliable as reportage, providing in turn a change in mental bandwidth for illustrations that are bespoke, constructed and or made images. Potentially, depending on context, this change re-charges the reading with an indexical more metonymic function, where the concept of the illustrator as an individual identity and or voice becomes part of the meaning making experience. This connection, perhaps once relegated as parerga in conventional text-image led publications has an interesting salience in social media and can be, in turn used to foster activist, critical, or culture jamming images/messages, this discussion will supported by a selection of case-studies. As I move towards conclusion, I will offer a discussion around the emergent trends and prerogatives within augmented reality, as linked but different to social media and offer some speculative thinking (based on my own practice and that of others) regarding how augmented reality could mix and meet with the affordances of illustration as social semiotics considering the continued need for social engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIllustration Studies: New Approaches, New Directions Conference
Publication statusIn preparation - 19 Apr 2023
EventIllustration Studies: New Approaches, New Directions conference: The 6th Illustr4tio conference - Birkbeck, University of London, London
Duration: 19 Apr 202321 Apr 2023
Conference number: 6


ConferenceIllustration Studies: New Approaches, New Directions conference

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