Graphic design and the unconscience codes

Michelle Stacy

Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in December 2013.


During the first year of RIT's graduate graphic design program, the student is required to take a course titled Visual Semiotics. This class is taught by Dr. Richard Zakia, Prof. R. Roger Remington, and Prof. Robert Keough. Course substance includes semiotics, explained through definitions, visual examples, and the semiotic construction chart devised by Dr. Richard Zakia and Prof. R. Roger Remington, (see appendix 4) "Semiotics, a theory of how meaning is created through signs and symbols in our lives, is both a strategy for looking, as well as a model for expressing meaning -- especially that which is less obvious or more deeply represented in culture. Whether defining a product, targeting a concept or carrying strategy to the marketplace, success is determined by a comprehensive understanding of culture. To a semiotician, how something is structured (whether it be an object, language, even something more abstract, such as an attitude or behavior) provides clues to its fullest meaning. Likewise, the semiotician probes to discover patterns of organization, the codes through which we comprehend or Dr. Zakia the rules that operate to generate meaning." The semiotic construction charts' patterns of organization are represented through code, paradigm, relationship, operation, and evaluation. Listed under the semiotic codes are linguistic rhetorical figures, perceptual, unconscious, Gestalt, stylistic, iconic, cultural, color, body, scientific, recognition, transmission, and aesthetic. Through the study of these codes, I became fascinated with the unconscious aspect and how we can define its meaning through our cultural signs and symbols. "The unconscious depth message of ads are never attacked by the literate because of their incapacity to notice or discuss nonverbal forms of arrangements and meaning. They McLuhan, 1964 have not the art to agree with pictures." The codes of the unconscious were defined by Dr. Richard Zakia and Prof. R. Roger Remington Remington as being archetypes, defense mechanisms, id/ego/superego, Jung's four functions: thinking, sensing, feeling, and intuiting, persona, perceptual defense, predicate thinking, shadow, and subliminal. Due to my personal fascination with psychology and mystic arts, I committed myself to expanding these unconscious codes and utilizing them in my thesis process and application.