Anchoring is the attempt by whoever is making signs to connote ideas or themes. It is generally successful in its subtle conveyance, but not always. This is because the meaning of signs are forever changing and are interpretable by each individual. Anchoring is achieved through the layering of extra signifiers over a base medium in which the extra signifiers all point to a certain theme.

The amount of extra signifiers could be little. For example the particularity of phrasing in words/arbitary signifiers.

Here is the base medium (it is to be noted this image is not unmediated; the hat signifies quasi-militaristic stylings, the red star – communism perhaps, the long hair – unconformity to the generic “smarter is shorter” haircut but for the purposes of this expression of anchoring through arbitrary signifiers one should treat this just as a base medium).

He is Chez Guevara. A controversial Argentine Marxist/Socialist fervent.

If one added a caption to this image, one could anchor the consumer’s preconception of the referrant.

“Freedom Fighter” – the connotations coming from the word ‘freedom’ and a ‘fighter’ for freedom give off a sense of heroism.

“Terrorist” –  the connotations coming from the word ‘terror’ give a sense of villainism.

Arbitrary signifiers (i.e. the caption) anchors the consumers preconception of the image.


Here is an example of the comedy genre my friend and I anchored on a 30 second base footage of a man simply walking his dog.

It is anchored as a comedy through the audio choice – a lively, jocund of a tune, and also the captions – comical colouring, and dumb questions. Minute anchoring dissonance springs from the footage in the last caption; it is red; this perhaps connote blood or danger. The red however is a comical red and does not strike fear deep in to the heart of the viewer.


Here, however, the exact same footage has been altered and now anchored as a horror. The black and white colouring gives a fey grace to the imagery, and the flashing messages are sublime and the seven deadly sins denotes that something a tad villainous is occuring. The music is foreboding and suspenseful – a necessity for a horror film.

A piece of 30 second footage has thus been anchored through titles and music to two different genres.

Also I took this oppurtunity to develop my skills of editing, which was long anticipated. I am now confident working with FinalCut and LiveType.


About elmercqegs

I am 16 years old and studying at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Horncastle, Lincolnshire.
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1 Response to Anchoring

  1. Chris this is brilliant.

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