Multimodality and Moving Images - Uncovering the Complex interplay of Semiotic Systems in TV Commercials

Nørgaard, N. (Speaker)

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


In Multimodal Discourse (2001), Kress and van Leeuwen present a multimodal view of communication according to which all kinds of communication must be seen as consisting of more than one semiotic mode. In our presentation we intend to pursue this line of thought in an analysis of a number of TV and cinema commercials. The commercials selected for analysis belong to the recent campaign of the European phone company, Tele2, that makes notable use of humour in an attempt to get new customers. Interestingly from a multimodal perspective, the humour of the commercials stems from the tensions between different semiotic modes such as the verbal and the visual. We intend to demonstrate how the different semiotic modes share and combine subsystems in different ways, like, for instance, the way music functions as a subsystem of the moving image and may construe both experiential and interpersonal meaning.

It is central to the decoding of the Tele2 commercials that it depends on a variety of contextual cultural knowledge, since the commercials invoke a number of fragments from different discourses such as superhero and boxing films, aesthetics of the seventies, American hillbilly, etc. Furthermore, understanding the commercials demand a certain command of the English language which is quite an interesting strategic choice for a company to make in a non-native English context. In addition to this, the decoding of the commercials is heavily dependant on the interplay between the commercials over time in that the meaning construed by the later commercials depends on previous ones.

We hope that our analysis will not only shed light on the commercials in question, but also reflect back on the theoretical multimodal approach to moving images.

Period26. May 2006
Event titleThe Third International Conference on Multimodality: null
Event typeConference
LocationPavia, Italy
Degree of RecognitionInternational