The description of Mann’s collage centered around the quotation-“Whoever controls the media“- made me recall a new media project I saw by another student years ago, where they focused their work around a scene from Clockwork Orange with the thesis: rebellious youth culture has overturned the bourgeoisie ideology that predominantly existed in middle class suburbs of London in the 1960’s through standard forms of media (music, television, film.) The Clockwork Orange clip serves to illustrate how the counter-culture movement presents the negative impacts that people’s fascination with capitalism and consumerism, masked by religion and wealth, has had on society. In Mann’s college, the main concept of media and the impact that a person can have on society (depending on who is in charge of it) is expressed through primarily visual images on one piece of paper. This other project is illustrated through the movie clip and relies heavily on music and speech to present a message. The images that Mann chose are all recognizable to a mass audience (President Bush and Rush Limbaugh) and as a result of this, they have immediate associations for the viewer that can carry meaning. Other signifiers are used, such as the television, the puppet strings, and even the crucifix. All are easily recognizable symbols, and they serve to illustrate Mann’s thesis that President Bush uses various spokespeople to send a negative conservative ideology, which includes, but is not limited to, religion and war propaganda. The Clockwork Orange clip above similarly uses religious symbols through the images of porcelain Jesus figurines (martyrdom), the snake (evil), the poster of the naked woman (Eve) and media is represented through movie clips from One Million Years B.C.(decadence) and Beethoven (conservativeness). Both projects are successful because they don’t just randomly present images and clips to the viewer, but instead construct these pieces of media with a unified message. The message is then further elaborated upon through examples and explanation-the how and the why. All things one would expect to see in successful essay, and this information is just instead presented through visual or auditory means.
“It is at first a bit disconcerting to see the lyrics of one song plays in the background; adding to the oddness is the visual experiences of seeing a very famous paintings faded in and out on the screen with the words superimposed on them…new context with new associations.” This description of Starry Night is similar to how I would describe the Clockwork Orange clip, and the value that each project has seems to rest in this last line: “new context with new associations.” That is the importance in multimodal assignments. However, deciding how to determine whether a new media project has accomplished this is the challenge facing instructors now. How to best assess multimodal assignments is a valuable concern when addressing the transitional process that is occurring in classrooms now where new media is being more readily incorporated. New media being defined as “…texts that juxtapose semiotic modes in new and aesthetically pleasing ways, and in doing so, break away from print traditions so that written text is not the primary rhetorical means.” Cheryl Ball (2004) “Show, not tell.”
The primary tools for evaluating new media, as presented in the article “Between Modes: Assessing Student New Media Composition,” are: looking at how effectively a project addresses audience and its ability to achieve purpose, how clearly the message or meaning is conveyed through the use of multiple modes (that each one has a purpose and is not just applied flippantly), and how effectively the connections between these modes have been formed in order to effectively illustrate meaning. Sorapure’s flexible stance that these assessment tools should not be applied to all assignments in all contexts, lest the value of the project be neglected because it is important to take the context of the assignment, purpose of the course, and the teacher and students themselves into account.
Problems occur when the project simply includes an element because it looks good or because it is a cool effect. There exists no meaning and then instead creates a distraction. Addressing this concern helps the evaluator not feel that just because the work is aesthetically pleasing, they need to give the project a high grade. The idea here seems that new media should be judged close to the way that an essay is assessed. There needs to be a central thesis, main ideas and arguments that link together the author’s ideas, and that these need to be elaborated upon through some sort of commentary. Ultimately, there does need to be some coherence that links together the purpose of the work, and analysis also needs to exist, so that there isn’t just a surface-level message. The article presented several examples of evaluated works, and Gabe Mann’s collage with the image of Bush as a puppeteer to conservative media moguls was presented as the most highly valued because of it’s use of both metonymic and metaphoric components. The combination of images, sound, and text worked metonymically because it linked images by association like “lines from a poem combined with a melody from a song.” This collage, like the Clockwork Orange project was successful because as a “Digital composition [it] weave[ed] words and context and images” with a unified thesis. This is something to look for when evaluating multimodal works.