Title: Functionality and identity in visual communication
Date: Monday 20 May 2019
Time: 4:15pm – 5:30pm
Location: Clothworkers’ North Building (G.12 Lecture Theatre). All are welcome.
The paper argues for a two-pronged approach to multimodal analysis that combines ‘functional design analysis’ and ‘identity design analysis’. It will be argued that functional design is increasingly global, functional and homogenized, while identity design is increasingly diverse, aesthetic, and oriented towards meanings and values.
It will also be argued that while functional design analysis relies on grammatical systems and generic conventions, identity design analysis requires a context-sensitive parametric approach and an element of creative interpretation.
It will finally be argued that while in modernity function superseded meaning, in postmodernity meaning returned, but as an expressive superstructure which leaves modernist functionality intact (if invisible) rather than as the source of semiosis. These arguments will be illustrated with examples from document design, product design and architecture.
Theo van Leeuwen is Professor of Multimodal Communication at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense, and Emeritus Professor in Media and Communication at the University of Technology, Sydney. He has published widely in the areas of social semiotics, multimodality, visual communication, and critical discourse analysis. His work has focused on topics as diverse as radio announcing speech, media interviews, global magazines, toys as communication, sound and music, typography, and decoration.
His books include Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design (with Gunther Kress); Speech, Music, Sound; Introducing Social Semiotics; Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication (with Gunther Kress); Global Media Discourse (with David Machin); and The Language of Colour. His current projects include research on visual communication theory and online fashion shopping. Professor van Leeuwen is a founding editor of the journal Visual Communication. In other lives he has been a film director and a jazz musician.
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