The Semiotic Triad of Symbols, Indexes, and Icons

CityFish, J.R. Carpenter’s semi-interactive work, is positively brimming with symbols, indexes, and icons. All of these serve alongside text to deliver the narrative.

As the user scrolls through the sideways-moving world of CityFish, they come across paragraphs that have been paired up with supplementary images, such as Chinese characters when the story moves into New York City’s Chinatown. The layout of the story is mostly icons, with symbols taking the second seat on the podium and indexes third. The reason for the icons is their supplementary nature previously mentioned. They serve as direct representations or expansions of the imagery provided in the text. These additions help propel the plot forward because they give a fuller sense of what is happening, similarly to Action-to-Action and Non-Sequitur  transitions as described by Scott McCloud. Without the text, you wouldn’t really know what was happening, though you could piece it together. The text glues these icons together.

Iconography helps you to interact with the story through the character’s eyes. Most of the images presented in the icons are directly what Lynne sees. Aside from these more direct images, we also get maps, which help give the setting and feeling of the story. This is helpful for generating usage ideas in my own work. I really enjoy the escapism of storytelling, as seen in CityFish, can add another layer on top of the story reading experience.

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