We’ve all played those games where we had to draw something, and people had to guess what it was, right? How many times did we get stuck, we couldn’t get our point across, or we had no idea how to draw our word? Or the opposite happens, when you play with people that you know really well. You’re on the same wavelength and know how each other think that you were able to guess each other’s drawings right away? I bring back the (hopefully good) flashbacks, to lead into how the concept of representation is a well-integrated and vital part in our culture as human beings. As we can see from the example of the game, representations are expressions of physical tangible things and can be represented in forms such as a drawing.
Though representation wouldn’t be anything without context. Meredith Davis demonstrates this in her book, In Graphic Design Theory, when talking about signs. Signs are relative and based on cultures or regions. We have signs or symbols that are used around the world that are the same yet represent significantly different ideas, concepts, or things in diverse regions around the world. There is also the reverse of that where the same concept/idea are present in various parts of the world yet are represented in considerably different ways, all because of context. If you look at the Red Cross organization, we can see this in effect...
Many recognize the Red Cross organization to represented by a red cross. Now this I did not know or even consider, that in other parts of the world, like in Arab countries, the ‘cross’ would be received in a religious context and be seen as a representation of Christianity. Not seen as an organization that provides relief to people trying to survive in war or natural disaster zones. So, they use the shape of the crescent to represent the Red Cross organization in this region of the world.
All in all, representation is not complete without context and it is not a relationship between maker or ‘sign’, but rather between maker and the audience.