The understanding that one’s creation has the ability to be interpreted in a plethora of ways ultimately allows for the employment of intended ambiguity during the development of the final product.
The New Yorker, a popular weekly magazine, has displayed an extensive understanding of semiotics from their very inception in 1925. The outlet’s first issue featured an illustration of a monocled, Regency dandy (known as Eustace Tilley, and reused on subsequent anniversary issues) observing a butterfly. The magazine utilised these contrasting figures providing the opportunity for differing responses to arise; “Is the man with the monocle being offered as an image of the New Yorker reader, a cultivated observer of life’s small beauties, or is he being ridiculed as a foppish anachronism?” (Louis Menand).
Christopher Niemann, has been creating noticeable artistic work since 1998, accumulating over 20 cover credits for the esteemed New Yorker. Niemann’s cover artwork for the March 16, 2016 ‘Innovation’ issue titled ‘On the Go’, is a contemporary example of semiotics in play.
Through a combination of denoting signifiers, the covers work collectively to convey a general idea, however, they are open to interpretation – this was something that Niemann was very aware of. The front cover features the representation of a female as she enters a subway carriage, as well as other passengers already seated. The reverse image shows the same scenario, however from a differing angle. By using both covers, as well as a virtual reality component – an homage to the concept of innovation, Niemann conveys a variety of ideas.
“The closing [subway] doors are a flat surface that separates two worlds, and so are the covers of a magazine – separating before you read it and after you read it, what you know and don’t know, how your views change” (Christopher Niemann).
This complex idea is one that the average responder may dismiss, however, those with a more advanced framework of knowledge will be aware of Niemann’s intentions.
Personally, I can’t help but refer said intentions to Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium is the Message“, through which, the content of the covers – the subway, woman, etc., although appertaining to New York itself, as well as the idea of transport based innovation, mean little. It is more so the medium that presents these ideas – the magazine and VR world, that conveys Niemann’s intentions.
After all, isn’t the attained knowledge between the start and end of a magazine an innovation in itself?