This can be done by direct action - force, threats, bribes, for example - or it can be done by the use of "signs", of which the most important are words in speech or writing" (Kennedy, 3)
As we may notice, this definition doesn't exclude the possibility of using other types of signs than those commonly used, the linguistic signs. On the contrary, it implies the fact that rhetoric uses more than a system of signs. Newer approaches on rhetoric, as well as the broader definition of rhetoric as "the totality of connotators" (Barthes, 38) - connotators being the signifiers of connotation that correspond to the general ideology - place the image at the centre of a system of signs. Image is seen as able of conveying meaning and expressing ideas as well as having a persuasive function.
Advertising images are the best illustration of the second function. They don't just denote, but they have very much to do with the connotation function. An image showing a mother and a little child sleeping peacefully, and a bottle of milk on the table near the bed, is meant to suggest that the peace of their sleep is a result of their drinking the respective brand of milk that contains everything necessary both to the adult and to the child's health. And it is meant, of course, to persuade us buy the respective brand of milk. ...
Art has always been seen as more than a representation of reality. With its images, it's more difficult indeed to identify the message or the meaning, but there is no doubt, a message or a meaning is present. In fact, there is always more than one meaning attached to an image and that makes it almost impossible for us to exhaust the interpretations of a work of art.
Richard Wendorf's opinion, quoted in Defining Visual Rhetorics, is that "writers and painters have always been fascinated by the relations that serve to join words and images." (Hill and Helmers, 63) More than being preoccupied with making a connection between the written and the visual work in arts, researchers in the field of visual rhetoric are concerned with showing how the work of art itself carries meaning.
In painting, images become the replacement of language. The elements of the image and the way they are placed together in order to make up the painting may be seen as similar to the way in which words are chosen and arranged in a sentence or in a text in order to convey meaning or to determine change in the surrounding environment. Only that the meaning you find in the painting is more varied than in the case when linguistic signs are used. Ernst Gombrich expressed the following: "looking at a picture can take a good deal of time", as it involves "scanning, remembering, anticipating, correcting and confirming impressions." (Hill and Helmers, 65)
So, the viewer's interpretation gives the meaning of the image. Meaning is constructed or it may be said that it is chosen from a wide variety of latent meanings which are only activated through the viewer's acting upon them. And the meaning