FUTURES DESIGN MULTIMODALITY AND SENSES
FUTURES DESIGN MULTIMODALITY AND SENSES
This unit aims to:
- introduce and connect approaches to language and multimodality
- outline views and approaches to multimodal language and discourse
- connect multimodality and futures design
- explore connections between multimodal design and multisensory futures
Design futures are materialised through a mix of modes: verbal and visual, touch and motion, smell and taste. Modes are used selectively, in combination or to distinguish matters or items or views from one another in design communication. Language, and futures words, are used together with these various modes. In doing so, they form what is called multimodal discourse. This refers to the configuration of different modes of meaning making above the level of a sentence in verbal language and above a unit of communicative act or ‘move’ in drawing on our different sensory capacities and expectations.
2. ON LANGUAGE, MULTIMODALITY AND DESIGN FUTURES
In a way the use of a mix of modes, media, materials and communication forms is very familiar to designers and designer-researchers. When it comes to FUTURES DESIGN and how DESIGN FUTURES LITERACIES are composed, shared, and evaluated as part of them, we need to unpack how it is that multimodality works and how we may work with it as a type of meta design material. This necessarily involves looking further into the specifics of different domains and disciplines of design and how they work with materials to achieve their goals and participative use.
When the future is our domain, regardless of a specific design discipline, there are also a number of meta matters to consider. These have a bearing on how we understand and shape by design FUTURES DESIGN discourse as multimodal and multisensory. At one level, this is a matter of making connections and distinctions between the relations of design and time, space, processes, settings and actors. At another level it is a matter of making connections and distinctions between the relations of the means and processes, outcomes and influences in futures designing.
3. CONNECTING MULTIMODALITY AND FUTURES DESIGN
Elsewhere in this Lexicon we introduced the FRAMES 4 FUTURES (Frames filled) to assist you in your inquiries into investigating and understanding the Context, Conditions, Complexities and Cultures of change and FUTURES DESIGN. Multimodality – the mix of modes of communication to achieve an effect – is designed. It is composed as a large design to achieve effect, to position and to persuade, to convey views and to orient us towards a perspective.
For designers and designer-researchers this is intriguing in the sense of composing multimodal communication by design. It is also a challenge, though, of critically locating the arena or zone of the discourse being shaped by words together with selections of other modes of design communication. When studying and researching futures design we draw on our emerging DESIGN FUTURES LITERACIES and we grow them through practical and critical use. It is important that these literacies connect to the content and the contexts in which futures designing is located and directed.
4. MULTIMODAL DESIGN AND MULTISENSORY FUTURES
The mix of materials, media, forms and styles involved in designing is also supported by the ways in which design draws on our engagement through our senses. We come to know things not only through words and arguments. We also encounter and fathom them out through our direct and indirect sensory experiences and responses. THisis a hugely important part of design discourses, design as performance and design as experience.
How we come to be aware of things and their character and influence is suggested by sight but also by sound, movement, taste and smell. Mobile apps engage us in sight and location based sensing but they also depend on our sense of distance, time and proximity. We function through what is known as embodied knowledge and communication and much of design acknowledges that we are individuals, members of groups and indeed virtual participants and contributors to design events.
Co-creative design processes that draw on a diversity of expertise may be needed to develop and support meaningful and engaging multimodal, multisensory design experiences. They need to anticipate our actions and wishes to some degree, yet they need to leave us agency and space for shaping our experiences through design. This usually refers to designing for and with user experience in view but it also means we need to engage with the affordance, or potential material and immaterial qualities, of a material, technology, device or process. Equally, we need to work with the cultural materials of design such as the views of stakeholders, the roles of participants, expectations of specific and diverse users and communities and ways in which identity and engagement may be inked or need to be rethought and offered differently according to need.
These matters of multimodal and multisensory design and design discourse are of course connected to words and their values and associations. This applies also to our acts of ‘worldmaking’ when we engage in shaping futures design designs and resources for others to access, think through and critique design’s informed, speculative and dialogue-setting ‘visions of tomorrow’.
Download this UNIT in printable format:
Fairclough, Norman. 2013. Critical discourse analysis: the critical study of language, 2nd edition. London: Routledge.
Kress, Gunther, and Theo van Leeuwen. 2001. Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication. London: Arnold. Krippendorf, Klaus. 1995. The Semantic Turn. London: Taylor & Francis.
Morrison, Andrew, ed. 2010. Inside Multimodal Composition. Cresskill: Hampton Press.
Morrison, Andrew, Timo Arnall, Jørn Knutsen, Einar Sneve Martinussen, and Kjetil Nordby. 2o11 “Towards discursive design.” In Proceedings of IASDR2011, 4th World Conference on Design Research. Delft: TU Delft.
Raymond, Corbin, Bruce Snaddon, Alettia Chisin, Monica Di Ruvo, Andrew Morrison and Amanda Steggell. 2019. “Relational ontologies for futurescaping.” Curated session at the 3rd International Conference on Anticipation, AHO, Oslo, 9-11 October, 2019.
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