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Definition


Production according to Gunther Kress and Theo Van Leeuwen in their book Multimodal Discourse, is physical work that adds meaning to design [1]. Physical work can refer to the use of technical skills, bodily functions or any other type of work. Here they explain that as design signifies communication through examples such as reading and writing, production signifies communication and adds meaning through physical activities. In explaining the relationship between discourse and production, the authors then introduce provenance and experiential meaning potential.


Provenance


‘Provenance’ according to the authors, means that signs can be transferred from one context into another in order to form a new sign, so that the ideas related to the former influence the latter [2]. Three important aspects of provenance are: that it can be used in place of a semiotic mode in order to signify a discourse; when a sign signifies through provenance, it evokes a complete but inexplicit discourse, so that only vague ideas are communicated; and communication through provenance is usually unsystematic [3].


Examples and Comparisons of Provenance


For further explanation of provenance, Kress and Van Leeuwen provide the example of the Beatles using the sound of the sitar in their music. This suggested values of the historical origins of the sitar, such as mediation [4]. The authors relate provenance to Roland Barthes’ concept of ‘myth.’ In his book Mythologies, Barthes describes myth as ways that signs are reassembled such that their meanings carry social and political accents, but still appear natural [5].


Experiential Meaning Potential


‘Experiential meaning potential,’ according to Kress and Van Leeuwen is the idea that signifiers derive meaning from what we do when we produce them, and from our ability to translate our actions into knowledge, and to explain our practical experience [6]. There are three important aspects of experiential meaning potential. The first is that it is suited for entire value systems of a culture that are expressed through material qualities of that culture, and through ways in which members of that culture behave physically [7]. Secondly, the materials of the cultures possess many qualities, and hence develop multiple meanings. Lastly, experiential meaning potentials are multimedial.


Examples and Comparisons of Experiential Meaning Potential


To further explain experiential meaning potential, the authors provide the example of the sound of ‘breathiness,’ which we understand by the situations in which it occurs, such as uneasy breathing due to excitement [8]. The authors relate experiential meaning potential to George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s concept of ‘metaphor.’ In their book Metaphors We Live By, Lakoff and Johnson describe metaphors as “reflecting cultural value systems and shaping how we think about experiences [9].”



NOTES


[1] Kress, Gunther and Theo Van Leeuwen. Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication. London: Arnold, 2001, p. 7.

[2] Kress, Gunther and Theo Van Leeuwen. Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication. London: Arnold, 2001, p. 23.

[3] Kress, Gunther and Theo Van Leeuwen. Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication. London: Arnold, 2001, p. 73.

[4] Kress, Gunther and Theo Van Leeuwen. Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication. London: Arnold, 2001, p. 10.

[5] Cited from [1]

[6] Kress, Gunther and Theo Van Leeuwen. Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication. London: Arnold, 2001, p. 10.

[7] Kress, Gunther and Theo Van Leeuwen. Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication. London: Arnold, 2001, p. 77.

[8] Kress, Gunther and Theo Van Leeuwen. Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication. London: Arnold, 2001, p. 10.

[9] Cited from [2]

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