Eco returns again to the problem of replicas in pages 238-241. There are three ‘things’ that can be replicated he states:
- Features of Verbal Language,
- Features of Stylizations, and
- Features of Vectors.
Features of verbal language and their two fixed articulations Eco discusses in more detail in previous sections of his theory. Stylizations are ‘iconic’ expressions that have a shared similarity to a content-type that is not compulsory and has many possible variants. A ‘typical’ example of a stylized replica is the King and or Queen in card packs. We don’t first interpret a man or woman in order to be able to recognise the denotation of King or Queen respectively. We immediately accept the denotation. We understand their representation without having to interrogate its semiotic markers. (p 238)
In the same way we accept the coding of ‘iconograms’ like the Virgin Mary, or the Devil. In these cases, Eco argues, the denotation is based on established codes of the female or male body out of which the iconography is invented. “Their full signification…is due to the presence of over coded replicable features (stylizations)”. (p 238)
Eco states that a painted image of a/the Devil is a super-sign.
[OS I intuitively understood Iconography to mean a representation of something much bigger than the actual image it represents. The gold embossed very particular Slavic images of The Virgin Mother for example, are not only about the figure herself and what she meant, but there is an assumed acceptance of, and reverence for, Catholicism. I have seen other images of the Virgin Mother, like Damien Hirst and it is almost mocking. Or at the very least it is uncertain as to whether the artist has any shared belief. Maybe it is this sense that we grasp the bigger ramifications and meaning of iconographic expressions that prompts Eco to state: “The iconogram is a label.” (p 239).
[SS The clocks have gone forward so does that mean we are one hour behind?]