Multi-modal text can be used to augment the effect of writing, or in some cases replace the use of the written word in its more pure form. This week alone, I’ve come across hundreds of multi-modal media, some that I’m sure I glossed right over. When I did start to take good count, I came across about 10 that used the five modes of communication: linguistic, aural, visual, spatial and gestural. In particular, a Dove ad caught my eye. Not only was it inherently visual (because it was a video), but it had sound (aural), used words (linguistic), was spatially aesthetic (words were well-placed, and gestural, because the women in the film were moving about and gesturing. Here’s the link to the video:
I think you will all find this to be multi-modality in near-perfect form. Each and every mode of communication was effective. I mean, probably because they have the best advertisers in the business, but because their audience was women, and they knew exactly how to pull on the heartstrings. They didn’t need perfectly lyrical sentences, or paragraphs of syntactical grace. All they needed was the perfect synthesis of the senses—a synthesis that provoked thought and emotion.
The other texts that I found were, too, advertisements. And not to my surprise, they were effective. In particular, I find Target’s instagram (@targetstyle) to be particularly spatially pleasing. Though they typically avoid aural stimulation, they tend to be heavy on the spatial/visual, which is perfect for their argument: target is a competitive decorating/design force. Their images are usually set something like this:
However, their commercials that use all five forms of communication do reach a wider audience, and I’m sure account for the majority of their shoppers. So while I applauded their visual/spatial multi-modality, videos are just an unmatched form of evocation.
The use of the various modes contributes to how different they are– one may be heavier on one mode than another. For instance, the dog video was more aural than spatial. But, it’s important to keep in mind that each mode can be just as effective when executed correctly: a picture can, sometimes, mean more than a song, and vice versa.