“IBM IS A TUNING FORK: Degrees of freedom in the interpretation of pictorial metaphors.” Poetics 23: 189-218.
Abstract: The article reports the results of a highly exploratory experiment pertaining to the identification and interpretation of what are claimed to be (verbo)pictorial metaphors in three IBM billboard advertisements. The experiment makes use of a design developed by Mick & Politi (1989) and relies on the metaphor theory of Black (1962, 1979) and its adaptation to pictures in Forceville (1991, 1994a, 1994b). The experiment tests (1) whether the participants in the experiment (academics working in the field of language or literature) identify the metaphors as such, without explicitly having been forewarned to look for metaphors; (2) to what extent the participants agree in their interpretations of these professed metaphors. Moreover the data provide insight into what associations the billboards evoke in participants besides those the participants think the advertisers intended them to have. The experiment makes use of existing billboards (i.e., “real-world texts” – see Kreuz & Roberts 1993: 152) and focuses on qualitative rather than quantitative results.