Anchorage and Relay

Anchorage directs the beholder through a number of possible readings of an image. It causes the reader to ignore some of the signifiers and read others. The way in which the reader is remote controlled to a meaning which has been chosen in advance suggests an ideological intention (Crow, 76).

Relay is when the text, that is usually a snippet of dialogue, works in a complementary way to the image. It advances the reading of the images by supplying meanings which are not to be found in the images themselves (Crow, 76).

Airports contain a plethora of communication images and text. I took a recent trip to Jamaica, which of course required several connections in various airports. The first stop was Chicago O’Hare International Airport. If you have not had the opportunity to visit this airport, consider yourself lucky. This airport was the location of what I like to call my first “Home Alone experience.” Picture the scene from the movie where the entire McCallister Family is running at full speed through the airport to catch their flight. I always thought people who were running to catch flights were just poor planners, until I had exactly 21 minutes to catch a connecting flight because of a previous delayed flight. Needless to say, I was running like a crazy woman through the airport. Since this was only my second time at this particular airport, I desperately needed directions and information quickly as I sprinted from concourse to concourse. How do airports convey quick information to patrons as they are running through terminals? Through anchorage and rely. The images and text work in concert with each other to give the viewer meaning. By guiding the viewer to a particular set of image and text, the information that is most important can be ready quickly. As stated earlier, it works like a remote control.

In addition to millions of images and text giving passengers information and directions, an airport terminal is scattered with advertisements and marketing. In the mess of all these images, how does the viewer find the most important information he or she needs? With the help of anchorage and relay, the viewer is directed to the most important information, whether it’s terminal directions, bathroom locations or the nearest Starbucks.


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