I heart words…but I don’t always need them

Kress (2004) states that there is ‘a finite stock of words, vague, general, nearly empty of meaning’ (p.15). Candace argues in her tumblog however, ‘there’s an infinite number of ways to put them together’. I think Candace makes a great point here. I’d like to put aside, for the moment, the arguments about the primacy of writing and its power in favour of looking at words and writing as art, such as poetry, literature, lyrics etc. I would suggest that imagery which can be invoked via words can be exceptionally rich and that Kress’s assertion that ‘speech and writing tell the world; depiction shows the world’ (p.16) is arguably a little blunt. That’s not to say, however that these words cannot and should not be viewed via/listened to/supported by/replaced with other multimodal literacies.

To take an obvious example  here is an excerpt of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as performed by the RSC – I would suggest that the language very successfully paints pictures which one could visualise without actually watching.

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On the other hand, here is a an entirely wordless repetition of the same scene in the modality of dance. Nothing is lost here, and perhaps much is gained – it’s just a different experience.

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2 Responses to “I heart words…but I don’t always need them”

  1. Giraf87 February 3, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    I would like to add that this is also an aesthetic perspective of what art (such as literature and dance) can achieve,or as Paul Klee said: “Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible”; to me this visibility is part of our imagination, our internal and external perceptions with digital spaces supporting these experiences.

  2. cmeckenstock February 3, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    A great piece! I think in the language of story writing, there is this mantra that says “do not tell but show.” And good writing is about showing (or depiction?). It is about showing the world, but by depicting the actual scene, characterisation without the visuals, moving images or sound. It does take a certain amount of skill.

    In present day affordances provided by technology, this means, there is the option of using the other modality to do the same thing, or by mixing them up. It can sometimes mean more accessible and effective for a wider audience and perhaps even a greater impact. But it is an option that we have. It does not mean it should replace or substitute text and speech.

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