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Multimodality

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  • 1. MULTIMODALITY Key themes from week 7
  • 2. Visuals - Canny-Francis
    • Visuals have the ability to carry meaning that would be laborious to explain verbally.
    • Visuals engage the senses, not just the brain
    • The result is multimodal texts that convey multiple meanings
  • 3. Discourse
    • Discourse is (according to Foucault) - a set of statements that articulate a particular way of thinking, feeling and being in the world.
    • Traditionally used with the verbal, it can also be used with the visual “to discuss the kinds of meaning a text can make available to viewers”.
    • Discourse can be used to describe meaning-making across a range of modalities and so is particularly useful in the study of multi-modal texts.
  • 4. Giger’s Alien
    • Just a normal, scary-looking alien…
    • Until you apply a Gothic/Gender Hierarchy/Freudian reading to it.
    • The alien can be considered a multimodal text for the multiple ways in which it can be interpreted.
  • 5. Gothic reading
    • “… a contemporary spin on Gothic’s fundamental preoccupations with the nature of boundaries…”
    • “ Gothic has traditionally mounted this challenge through nightmare scenarios and images that confront comforting ‘normalising’ assumptions - about gender, sexuality, etc.”
    • The alien is androgynous.
    • It is “a monstrous projection of Western fears about sexuality - as penetrating and/or devouring”.
  • 6. Gender Hierarchy Reading
    • Consider the gender hierarchy - the feminine is supposedly weak and permeable, the masculine is penetrative and impermeable.
    • This is hierarchy is broken down by the alien as it “indiscriminately penetrates both masculine and feminine subjects - in the process demonstrating that both feminine and masculine bodies are permeable.”
    • Kane being penetrated by the face-hugger is “payback” for all those horror films in which sexually vulnerable women were terrorised by rampaging male monsters (Dan O'Bannon - Alien ’s scriptwriter).
  • 7. Intentional or not?
    • These meanings appear to be intentional by Giger.
    • But, if a specific meaning is not intended by the author, is it still applicable?
    • Canny-Francis offers one example where it is - in the case of The Two Towers .
  • 8. The Two Towers
    • Some viewers were disturbed by the fact the the second LOTR film was subtitled The Two Towers because, for them, the name recalled the September 11 terrorist attacks.
    • “ In this case, extra-diagetic or contextual factors have added substantially to the text’s potential meaning.”
    • But is unintended meaning always applicable?
  • 9. Does this apply?
    • Salience - a website for USYD Online Journalism students.
    • Hypothetically - a theorist claims that the sunlight spreading out behind the clouds on this banner is representative of a new day/new era in education.
    • The author of the image explains that the tower and the building were the focus and the arrangement of the cloud and sunlight simply made for a good looking photo (aesthetic appeal).
    • Is the theorists claim applicable?
  • 10. A visceral response
    • Visuals can strategically position viewers to interpret the text in line with a particular discourse.
    • … of sympathy or loathing, calm or disquiet, fear or desire.”
    • Consider the election ad campaigns. How do they manipulate your response?
    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5_PSAGIkh4
  • 11. The internet as multimodal
    • The internet is highly multimodal.
    • It shares many of the modes of other media:
    • It offers text, like a magazine or newspaper.
    • It offers static images, like a photograph.
    • It offers video, like a television.
    • However, it is unique in that it is “interactive in a way that none of those other media are, offering the user the possibility of self-directed activity.
  • 12. The mp3 as multimodal
    • An mp3 is a compressed audio file designed to be used on computers and portable mp3 players.
    • However, Sterne argues that the mp3 should be also viewed as a cultural object.
    • Even though they are not physical objects, the fact that they can be ‘owned’ and ‘collected’ suggests that they can be considered cultural objects.
    • By offering this different interpretation of what an mp3 ‘is’, Sterne is highlighting its multimodality.
  • 13. Sound as multimodal
    • “ Sound is a product of perception, not a thing‘out there’ - the only thing out there is vibration, which the body organizes and stratifies into what we call sound.”
    • “ The body shapes vibrations before they enter the ear and become sound”.
    • As such, each body interprets these vibrations differently. The differences might be minimal, but that does not mean they don’t exist.
    • If sound is a result of individual perception (not unlike The Two Towers example) we must consider it to be multimodal also.
  • 14. To conclude…
    • Visuals are multimodal as they can be interpreted or used in a number of ways.
    • The same can be said for technology such as the internet and mp3s.
    • The discourse can be shaped intentionally by the author, or unintentionally by the reader.
    • Context plays a key role in the shaping of discourse, just as your body plays a key role in shaping sounds.
    • In what ways can we benefit from understanding the multimodality of visual images and technologies?