A visual social semiotic investigation into the popularity of Ronaldo and Messi’s chess photo on Instagram: Implications for new media and audience engagement

Eylem Simsek 1 * , Ayse Asli Bozdag 2
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1 Deputy Director of Graduate School, Bahcesehir University, İstanbul, TÜRKİYE
2 Department of New Media, Faculty of Communication, Bahcesehir University, Istanbul, TÜRKİYE
* Corresponding Author
Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, Volume 14, Issue 3, Article No: e202432. https://doi.org/10.30935/ojcmt/14603
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This qualitative study adopts a visual social semiotic approach to examine the multifaceted engagement incited by Annie Leibovitz’s photograph portraying Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in a contemplative game of chess, ensconced amidst an array of Louis Vuitton merchandise. Through semiotics, mise en scène, and sociolinguistics, we unravel the photograph’s layered significances, employing studium and punctum to dissect viewer engagement. Cognitive linguistics reveals the interplay of myths, metaphors, and metonymy, crafting a narrative that intertwines football, chess, and luxury into potent cultural symbols. The mise en scène theory illuminates the nuanced balance between authenticity and artifice, while sociolinguistic insights bridge visual and linguistic communications for a diverse audience. The photograph, as a convergence of composition, culture, and technology, exemplifies how visual narratives blend these elements to forge connections and evoke responses. This paper aims to contribute to the understanding of digital visual storytelling’s power in shaping cultural dialogues and perceptions, showcasing the role of iconic imagery in the tapestry of social media discourse.


Simsek, E., & Bozdag, A. A. (2024). A visual social semiotic investigation into the popularity of Ronaldo and Messi’s chess photo on Instagram: Implications for new media and audience engagement. Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, 14(3), e202432. https://doi.org/10.30935/ojcmt/14603


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