What are Multimodal Projects?

I have to admit that upon first reading the title of this assignment/consequent article that I had no idea what a multimodal project was. I read the warning that I needed potentially several days to collect my multimodal pieces for this blog post, and I dreaded the research that would need to be done and the incessant critiquing and nitpicking to find the perfect forms of media that could fit this heavy description. The joke was on me. Multimodal projects and presentations are all around us, and I unknowingly view them every single day.

We have this video above that was originally supposed to be a gif, but my computer saved as a video instead despite my wishes. Here we have examples of linguistic, visual, spatial, and gestural modes. We can see the linguistic mode in the text provided at the bottom of the screen to represent the otter’s thoughts as he tries to stack the cups. The text about the otter’s difficulty in stacking the cups doesn’t arrive until after we watch his fruitless attempts and his word choice (“You see this shit?”) all help add to the comedic effect of the gif. Without the text provided, it would just be a cute video of an otter stacking some cups, but now we can see that he is actually frustrated in how he is failing at putting them together, and it is instead hilarious. Likewise, the way we watch the otter move his hands (gestural), the perspective that we have as the viewer (visual), and the proximity that we as the viewer have to the subject of this gif (spatial) also help enhance our enjoyment of this form of media.


This next form of media is a clip from a TV show that I really enjoy and really admire the way that they have organized the opening credits. It is called The Twilight Zone, and it was a science fiction show that aired in the late 1950’s to early 1960’s. In watching it, we get another mode that we weren’t able to pick up from the previous form of media, the aural mode. We hear the background music that is now so famous, and still so chilling and eerie. You can tell from the music right away exactly what you are getting yourself into by watching this. Other versions of the theme song involve the sound of shattering glass and creaking doors, other noises meant to set the viewer on edge before the program even begins. We also have the voice of the narrator, which though calm, also has a spooky sense about it. For the visual mode, we have this background of space and the black and white picture of the screen. The black and white of it not only reflects the time period that this piece of media is from, but like space also seems more sinister, and less like the life that we know today.

In the linguistic mode, we can go back to the delivery of the words of the narrator. The spoken words are calm, yet telling of an impending doom, making them more frightening for the listener/viewer than if they had been spoken in terror. In our spatial mode we also have the change in perspective with the opening shot of the spinning cone, confusing the viewer as they open up. The only type of mode that this piece lacks is gestural, for there are no people shown in it. Together, these modes of media create a sinister television opening that prepares the audience for something unexpected and frightening at the same time.

Comparing these two pieces, we can see that aside from using many of the same modes, the two have little in common. We know that the dates that they were each created were at least 50-60 years apart, and they have very different purposes. The first gif was for comedic effect while the second video was to spook its viewers. The first is also a depiction of real life while the second is a concept of an otherworldy science fiction genre. I think that this is to be expected though. Multimodal projects are so prevalent in our society that it is natural that they can be used to express any sort of thought or idea in any form that we as humans are capable of. Even though our forms of media and communication have changed throughout history, we can still trace them back to these five essential modes that we will continue to use to express our thoughts.

One thought to “What are Multimodal Projects?”

  1. I really enjoyed your piece because I think we had a similar experience with this project. I had no idea what multimodal projects were and did not look forward to learning but like you, I realized I completely knew what they were and saw them all around me. I really liked how you looked at completely different works from different time periods. It was interesting the similarities and the differences they shared and how in the end, they both communicated using a different combination of the same 5 modes.

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