Pictures: perceptions of realism in the service of communication

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in book


Pictures have not evolved as isolated phenomena in human culture, but occupy their

place and contribute to changes in the complex and intricate processes we in this book

designate as cultural evolution. In this chapter, pictures are discussed as semiotic

resources from a perspective of human cultural evolution. The material picture (the

picture-thing) is examined both as a perceptual object, and as a communicative

resource. An assumption in this chapter is that the discrimination of the picture as a

communicative resource had (and may still have) a vital, but also distinct, role in the

human endeavour to explore sign relationships. Its distinctiveness does not consist in

being the original or the prior semiotic resource in relation to other semiotic resources

developed in human communication. Rather, its specific role derives from the

combination of visual and communicative meanings employed in pictures, having

recourse to the inherent qualities of “natural meaning”, but at the same time not being

mere “natural experience”.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHuman lifeworlds
Subtitle of host publicationtThe cognitive semiotics of cultural evolution
EditorsDavid Dunér, Göran Sonesson
Place of PublicationFrankfurt am Main
PublisherPeter Lang Publishing Group
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9783631693957
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Humanities and the Arts (6)


  • cognitive semiotics
  • deep history
  • pictoriality


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