What are Multimodal Projects?

An increasingly popular interest in physical health and detest for aspartame were the perfect conditions to launch LaCroix as the next big thing. The calorie and sweetener free sparkling water is flavored with “essence” and describes itself as “innocent” across its aesthetically nostalgic can. The drink became a booming success, thus the birth of MyLaCroix.com.
MyLaCroix.com is a quintuple multimodel text—leading with visuals. A full range color palette allows its user to customize six different sections of a LaCroix can. The linguistic mode is working minimally, but effectively, guiding viewers to understand the simple functions of the website with commands such as “Name my flavor.” The gestural mode is arguably the backbone of the site’s appeal. The spinning can gives the satisfaction of watching a potter maneuver their clay on the wheel in slow motion. Users may slightly manipulate the position of the can, encouraging interaction. MyLaCroix.com’s use of the spatial mode is straight-forward: a spinning can on the left, with a smaller command box on its right, both behind a simple navy background. Simple design is supreme, always. The aural mode comes into play once you have “flavorizer” your can; the sound of that initial open, pop, and fizz makes it hard not to say “ah!” and half-smile. The combination of interactivity and play make for an engaging platform.
Similarly to MyLacroix.com, Quizlet (an online study tool) encourages user participation by using all five modes of communication. (Look for yourself: https://quizlet.com/105193061/flashcards) As I brush up on my pasta knowledge, I am guided with words, images, sounds, animated gestures, and organized space. I see a picture described as “a tube-shaped pasta with square cut ends.” I click the top of the white rectangle, which resembles a flashcard. The flashcard flips, as it would in real life, and a womanly sounding robot with an Italian accent says “rigatoni.” Quizlet and MyLaCroix are similar in the ways and modes that they engage their audience; however, the sites serve two different purposes. Because Quizlet has a clear educational purpose, and is more than a fun way to waste time, it’s spacial and linguistic modes are emphasized to guide viewers through instructions and exercises. Both texts are current and are examples of simple and effectively designed communication.
Not all multimodal texts use their modes as gracefully. For example, this campaign advertisement for Dale Peterson, a 2010 republican nominee for the Alabama agriculture commissioner, hyperbolizes all five modes. The ad uses strong traditional American imagery: The Declaration of Independence, a horse on a farm, a bigoted white man holding a rifle, etc. This text is BOLD and persistent, never leaving the screen’s corner. A hopeful and inspiring musical score breathes life into Dale’s delivery of “Let’s show Alabama we mean business.” Quick cuts, extreme zooms, and shots from every angle make use of the spatial mode. Perhaps this is to keep television viewers interested and engaged. It’s working, Dale!! The ad’s use of the gestural mode is prominent as well. The calculated intention of Peterson’s body language is easy to see through. With swift force, he removes the aviators from his rosy face and demands the viewer to “listen up!” Throughout the following minute, Dale Peterson consciously manipulates his body-language to appear, as some would consider, trustworthy, assertive, and strong. Who’s fooled? The hyperbole of each mode makes for an unbelievably comical message.
However, there are some people who can get away with a little extra. In this interview with bell hooks, a feminist and literary theorist, the viewer is almost overwhelmed with images and words: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQUuHFKP-9s The images and videos of pop culture not only relate to the subject matter of the interview but support hooks’ argument that pop culture is compelling. As a viewer, I am happy to watch clips of movies and television shows as I listen to a brilliant woman speak of their significance. While the animated titles and words are a bit extreme, they serve the purpose of reinforcing bell hooks’ ideas, which aligns with the educational function of the video. In shots of hooks’ talking, she appears calm but engaged. She does not push for the viewers to believe what she is saying, à la Dale Peterson. Although there are five types of modes, each can be used differently, both effectively and ineffectively. These modes are tools to effective communication, but must be applied wisely.

One thought to “What are Multimodal Projects?”

  1. I like that you went about this blog post by choosing three very different media to analyze, it was certainly interesting to learn more about each one. You did a good job of talking about the modes used in each, and I like how you compared and contrasted them fluidly. You didn’t just talk about one and then move to the next. I also like that you expressed some disagreement with some of the media, which is refreshing and shows your voice coming through.

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