Thurlow2015 Intermediality Volume Libre

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1 Multimodality, Materiality and Everyday Textualities: The Sensuous Stuff of Status Crispin Thurlow Chapter prepared for: Handbook of Intermediality, ed. Gabriele Rippl ȋʹͲͳͷ, DeGruyterȌ Abstract: Four seemingly banal objects – a pepper pot, a napkin, a pack of tissues and a pair of pyjamas – will function as the complicating actions for the narrative presented here. On the surface, this will be a story about the production of luxury in contemporary consumer culture. At root, however, it is a social semiotics of super‐elite mobilities, an ideal domain for exploring the materiality of language and the inherently multimodal nature of everyday textual practices. This chapter is also offered as an interdisciplinary reflection on possible connections between academic domains. Just as many linguists are seeking to push beyond the binarizing boundaries of language and Ǯthe semiotic restǯ, the pursuits of literary studies and discourse studies may be more easily aligned than one might imagine. We may prioritize different sites, different texts, different objectȋiveȌs, but our core interests may not be all that far removed when it comes to understanding the interplay of semiotic resources. Key Terms: multimodality, social semiotics, visual‐material resources, luxury, elitist discourse 1 Introducing Multimodality (and Social Semiotics) )n discourse studies, recognition of the inherently and unavoidably mediated nature of all communicative action precludes us from an otherwise isolationist semiotics, one that separates out or privileges a single mode of communication ȋNorris and Jones ʹͲͲͷȌ. For linguists, this has typically been language, which we have tended to extract from its naturally occurring contexts of use for theoretical deliberation, or kept apart from nonverbal behaviour and physical setting for the sake of analysis. To talk of Ǯmediated communicationǯ is, however, about as sensible as speaking of oxygenated breathing. )n reality, there is no communication without mediation. Language never takes place, never makes sense, outside of its situated, embodied, multi‐sensory uses – whether gushing from the pages of a book, reverberating in the ears of speakers, or glistening on city billboards. For scholarly convenience or rigour, we often bunker down around disciplinary investigations of, say, words, images, sounds or spaces. These academic exercises detach and abstract meaning‐making practices from their patently multimodal realities. Besides, the isolating of, say, language from its richer context – like the disembedding of books from their embodied moments of
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Transcript of Thurlow2015 Intermediality Volume Libre

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    Multimodality,MaterialityandEverydayTextualities:TheSensuousStuffofStatusCrispinThurlowChapterpreparedfor:

    HandbookofIntermediality,ed.GabrieleRippl,DeGruyterAbstract: Four seemingly banal objects a pepperpot, a napkin, apack of tissues and a pair ofpyjamaswillfunctionasthecomplicatingactionsforthenarrativepresentedhere.Onthesurface,this will be a story about the production of luxury in contemporary consumer culture. At root,however,itisasocialsemioticsofsuperelitemobilities,anidealdomainforexploringthematerialityoflanguageandtheinherentlymultimodalnatureofeverydaytextualpractices.Thischapterisalsoofferedasaninterdisciplinaryreflectiononpossibleconnectionsbetweenacademicdomains.Justasmanylinguistsareseekingtopushbeyondthebinarizingboundariesoflanguageandthesemioticrest,thepursuitsofliterarystudiesanddiscoursestudiesmaybemoreeasilyalignedthanonemightimagine.Wemayprioritizedifferentsites,differenttexts,differentobjectives,butourcoreinterestsmaynotbeallthatfarremovedwhenitcomestounderstandingtheinterplayofsemioticresources.KeyTerms:multimodality,socialsemiotics,visualmaterialresources,luxury,elitistdiscourse1IntroducingMultimodality(andSocialSemiotics))n discourse studies, recognition of the inherently and unavoidably mediated nature of allcommunicativeactionprecludesusfromanotherwiseisolationistsemiotics,onethatseparatesoutorprivilegesasinglemodeofcommunicationNorrisandJones .Forlinguists,thishastypicallybeen language,whichwe have tended to extract from its naturally occurring contexts of use fortheoreticaldeliberation,orkeptapartfromnonverbalbehaviourandphysicalsettingforthesakeofanalysis. To talk of mediated communication is, however, about as sensible as speaking ofoxygenated breathing. )n reality, there is no communicationwithoutmediation. Language nevertakes place, nevermakes sense, outside of its situated, embodied,multisensory uses whethergushing from the pages of a book, reverberating in the ears of speakers, or glistening on citybillboards. For scholarly convenience or rigour, we often bunker down around disciplinaryinvestigationsof,say,words,images,soundsorspaces.Theseacademicexercisesdetachandabstractmeaningmaking practices from their patentlymultimodal realities. Besides, the isolating of, say,languagefromitsrichercontextlikethedisembeddingofbooksfromtheirembodiedmomentsof

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    reading becomes increasingly difficult nowadays when so many texts are materially andsemioticallyvaried.Take,forexample,thewebpagereproducedonthenextpage;itisfromtheLuxuryTravelFairinLondon.Whatwehavehereisaquintessentialtextofourtimes,onethatdemonstrateshowitispracticallyandexperientiallyimpossibletodisentanglethearrayofsemioticresourcesatworkinmanycontemporarytexts:words,images,typefacesstyle,designandsize,colourandshading,layout,iconsi.e.forvarioussocialmedia,andarangeofdirectionalandframemarkingsi.e.therepurposedparentheses,theblockedtitleslikeOFF)C)ALFA)RV)DEO.Thetextisacompositeoranensemble.Agestalt.Thedifferentsemioticresourcesandmeaningmakingpracticesarealldoingdifferentkindsofcommunicativework,whilealsoworkingtogethertogenerateanaffectivereactionandaneffectiveresponse.Whichdoesnotmeanthatwehavetolikeit,getitoragreewithit.Thewebpageisalsoahypertextualandmultimediatext,offeringmultipleopportunitiestoengageandmanipulatethecontentfurther:clickingthroughtootherpages,selectingdifferentreadingpaths,watchingavideo,tweeting,orrequestingmoreinformation.Complextextslikethesearedesigneddeliberatelytobemultimodalforexample,visual,verbal,gestural,tactile,musicalandtobereadinmoreopenendedways.[] Texts are certainly not simplypassive representationsof theworldtheyneverwere;theyalsodemandourattentionandinteractwithusbyaskingustodothingsseefollowusonTwitterandinvitingusintorelationshipsrealorimagined,instantordelayedwiththeauthorsofthetextandwiththepeopledepictedinthetextseethesmilingcelebrityinmeettheexperts. And these communicative actions are accomplished with words, images, colours,typefaces,layout,andsoon.)t would be wrong, of course, to suggest that multimodality is somehow a modernphenomenonoradistinctivelynewmediaone.Eveninquitestraightforwardways,cavepaintings,illuminatedmanuscriptsandVictorianpostcardswereclearlymultimodalaccomplishments.)ndeed,theriseinmultimodalstudiesormultimodalanalysisisunderstoodtobeaproductofsocalledvisual,spatialandmaterialturnsacrossthesocialsciencesandhumanities,whichthemselvesmayat least in part be explained by larger intellectual paradigm shifts towards complexity andinteractivity,andtowardsdisorderandthemessystuffofeverydaylifeJewitt.Multimodalanalysisisundoubtedlyaninterdisciplinarypursuit:closelyalliedwithworkbeingdoneinmediaand cultural studies, as well as in pragmatics, sociolinguistics and discourse studies; it is alsonecessarily informedby theworkof geographers, anthropologists and sociologists. Likemanyofthesedisciplinary traditions,multimodal analysis attends to the culturalandpolitical contextsofcommunicative action. )mportantly,multimodal analyses look beyond the discursive content ofimagesandothertextstoexaminethechoiceofmodeisitselfwhichisladenwithcommunicative,epistemological and ideological significance. Each communicativemode expressesmeaning in itsowndistinctiveway.)nfact,akeyprincipleofmultimodalityisthatdifferentmodesare,well,modesintheirownright.Colour,sound,space,touchareascommunicativelyrichandgrammaticallysophisticatedasspeechorwriting.Theirapparentsimplicityorinsufficiencyisusuallyaproductofourownrestrictedunderstandingandlimiteddescriptivepowers.Colourcommunicatesinwaysthatwordsoften

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    cannot.Ourwords typically failuswhen it comes tomakingsenseof the tenmillioncoloursourbrainscantechnicallyperceiveJuddandWyszecki.Thereareonlysomanythingswecandowith ourwords, only somanywayswe canmake sense of other communicativemodes. This isbecausecolour, sound, spaceand touchaffordopportunitieswhichwordsdonot KressandvanLeeuwen . What is more, these other modes are capable of expressing representationalmeanings,relationalmeaningsandcompositionalmeanings.Colourcan,forexample,depictourworldviewse.g.pinkisforgirls,generateinterpersonalfeelingse.g.bereavementorcelebration,andstructure/coheretextse.g.foremphasisorconnectionseethepurplewordsabove.Noneofthisistosaythatlanguageiswithouttremendousinfluenceandsemioticweight;itremainsoneofourmostdominant,institutionallyestablished,scientificallystudiedmeaningmakingsystems,andespeciallyusefulforexpressingabstractnotionsordistantiatedexperiences. Addressing the challenges of multimodal communication as both a theory ofcommunicative action and as amethod for its analysis has been central to thework of socialsemioticians cf. Aiello for a neat introduction. )t is beyond the confines of this essay toreproduceamoredetailedaccountoftheintellectualoriginsofsocialsemioticsandtodojusticetothearrayofacademictraditionsthatfeedcontemporaryresearchpracticecf.Jewittandotherpublicationslistedinthefurtherreadingsectionofthischapter.Nonetheless,beforeturningtomyluxuriousdemonstration,)wanttoofferseveralimportantgroundingsinsocialsemiotics,thefirstofwhichmedium,modeandmeaningispresentedasasnapshotonthenextpage.Together,thesegroundingsofferpracticaldirectionsfororganizingasocialsemioticanalysis. CommunicativeMetaFunctionsAkeyfeatureofsemioticmodesistheircapacitytofullyandselfsufficientlyservethethreecore or meta functions of all communicative action (alliday ; Kress and vanLeeuwen,whichare: ideationalorrepresentationalfunctionthecapacitytodepictorexpresscertaindiscourses,storiesorclaimsabouttheworldatlarge; interpersonal or interactional function the capacity to generate emotional andrelationalconnectionsbetweenthereader,theauthor,andthepeople/charactersdepictedinatext; textualor compositional function the capacity toorganizeandcohere texts, toguidereadersbyprioritizingorhighlightingdifferenttypesofinformation.Usefully, this threepart theoretical framework points to some directions for analysingmultimodaldiscourse.Accordingly,wecanconsidernotonlytherepresentationalmeaningsakacontentconveyedby,forexample,aparticularchoiceofcolour,typefaceorsound,butwecanalsoidentifyhowdifferentsemioticresourcesengagereaders/viewersemotionallyand relationally e.g. challenging, amusing or persuading them, and the way semioticresourceshelptextstohangtogetherandworkasensembles.

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    mediummediaarethematerialresourcesusedintheproductionofsemioticproductsandevents,includingboththetoolsandthematerialsused./ifasemioticresourceisorganisedasamedium,ithasonlyalexism o d e modesaresemioticresourceswhichallowthesimultaneousrealisationofdiscoursesandtypesofinteraction./ifasemioticresourceisorganisedasamode,ithasbothagrammarandalexismeaningmeaningresultsfromhumanengagementwiththeworld,andtheresourcesweuseinarticulatingandinterpretingmeaningcomprisebothsemioticsmodesandsemioticmedia[]

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    MethodologicalObjectives)n practical terms, social semiotics is committed to the following objectives, outlined bya/theleadingscholarinthefieldvanLeeuwen,: inventoriescollecting,documentingandcataloguingsemioticresources; settingsinvestigatinghowtheseresourcesareusedandtalkedaboutinspecifichistorical,culturalandinstitutionalcontexts; applicationsdevelopingnewresourcesand/ornewusesofexistingresources.)nmyownwork,theseactivitieshavedirectedmetothreeanalyticstepsformakingfullersense of any particular discursive practice: description, which may entail looselyquantitative procedures to account for the semiotic repertoires deployed in a text;

    interpretation,whichconsidershowmeaningpotentialsareconventionalizedandculturallysignificant; and critique, which seeks to connect singular often banal texts orcommunicativeactionsto larger/widersocialpoliticalprocessesseeThurlowandAielloforamoredetailedaccountofthisapproach.CriticalPerspectivesUniting social semiotics, critical discourse studies and cultural studies is a sharedcommitment to understanding what kinds of identities, actions, and circumstances areconcealed,abstracted,orforegroundedinatextMachin,.Theseinevitablyhaveideological implications. Similarly, the recontextualization of words, genres and notionsfromonetextorpracticetoanothermeansthatsomemeaningsarelostandsomearegained;all are inevitably reframed. These, too, are matters of ideology. With this in mind, andfollowingMachin,socialsemioticianstypicallyattendtothefollowingprocesses:

    deletionwhatisexcludedfromarepresentationandhowcertainmodesconcealorrevealinformationbetterthanothers? additionwhatalternativemeaningsdodifferentmodesaddtoatextandprivilegesomemeaningsoverothers? substitutionhowdodifferentmodeseffectivelyreplaceordominateothermodesin a text? how do certainmodes call attention to themselves as the expense ofothers? evaluationhowdodifferentmodesexpressthegoals,valuesorprioritiesoftheauthors/creatorsofthetext,orofthepeoplerepresentedinthetexts?Social semiotics, like most multimodal approaches, is committed, as both a critical ideal and amethodologicalprinciple,tounderstandinghowmeaningmakingtakesplaceallovertheplace.Andnotonlyinthehandsandmouthsofsocietysratifiedspeakersandtextproducers,butalsothoseofeveryday communicators. )ndeed,most peoples communicative practices are invariably agentfulandcreative;theyaredefinitelyalwayspurposefulalthoughnotalwaystransparentandrelevanttothesituationathand.Thisiswhysocialsemioticianseschewmeaningse.g.redmeansangerinfavourofmeaningpotentials i.e. redmaymeananger,passion,good fortune,danger,butseldom

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    meanscold.Withintheseculturallyrelativeandhistoricallyvariableconventions,thereisplentyofroom for polysemyand innovation. Likeprofessional communicators e.g. designers, advertisers,architects,artists,laycommunicatorscananddoselect,combineandreworkmodesandsemioticresources in even their most banal interactions and textmakings. (aving said which, ourcommunication choices andopportunities arenever completely free or equal; all communicativeaction is shaped by cultural norms, values andwider politicaleconomies. For this reason, socialsemioticiansfrequentlylocatetheiranalysesofcommunicativeactionsinrelationtosocialprocessesofinequality,privilege,accessandinstitutionalcontrolMachin.Thisbringsusnicelytothecasestudyexampleofsocialsemioticsinaction.2.ASocialSemioticsofLuxury(andElitistDiscourse)Againstthisbriefoverviewofmultimodality/socialsemiotics,)wanttoturntofourbanalobjects:apepperpot,anapkin,apackoftissues,andapairofpyjamas.[]Thisstuffpresentsitselfasaneatsocialsemioticconundrum.(owarewetomakesenseoftheseobjectsascommunicativeactions,aswaysofrepresentingtheworldorsayingsomethingaboutit,aswaysofinteractingwithusers,andasbroadermetacommunicativeortextualaccomplishments?Allfouroftheseobjectsfoundtheirway intomy life and ontomydesk as part of a collaborative research programmeon elitistdiscourse in thecontextof highendorsocalled luxury travel e.g.Thurlowand Jaworski,, , , forthcoming. Artefacts like the ones here helpme to understand how status,prestigeanddistinctionareproducedthroughaconstellationofcommunicativeactionsi.e.differentgenres,stylesanddiscoursesandalwaysasacombinationofsemioticmodesandresources.Thisisaninherentlyinterdisciplinary,multimodalprojectdrawingonmultisitedethnographicfieldwork,discourseanalysesofadvertisingandotherprintmaterials,aswellastheinterpretationofahostofvisual,materialandspatialpractices. )t is thiswhichbringsusalso toseeminglybanal,pointlessobjectslikethepepperpot,napkin,tissuesandpyjamas.)ncontrast,perhaps,totheusualliterarypursuitsof intermedialityscholars, theseare thekindsofeveryday textsandpractices thatoftenoccupysocialsemioticiansandmultimodalityscholars.Tobeclear,theanalysiswhichfollowsisnotpresentedasadefinitiveornecessarilytypicalexampleofsocialsemiotics;thefieldisvastandvaried,andinevitablyshapedbydifferenttraditionsandscholarlystyles.Thecombinationofbiography,ethnographyandperformanceiscertainlymyownpreferenceincludingthedeliberateselectionofafirstperson,autoethnographicvoiceinthetraditionofQueerscholarshipAdamsandJones.Nonetheless,whatthispottedanalysishasincommonwithmostsocialsemioticanalysesisthefollowing:athedescriptionandinventoryingofothermodesandtheirparticularaffordances;banattentiontotheinterplaybetweensemioticresources;cacriticalframingaroundquestionsofpoliticaleconomyandideology.)mportantly,myanalysis here also orients explicitly to the allied enterprises of semiotic landscapes research cf.Jaworski andThurlow and languagemateriality cf. Shalini andCavanaugh, both ofwhich are pushing language and communication scholars to think in more comprehensivelymultimodal ways. One of the most significant moves that social semiotics makes, as part of itscommitmenttomultimodality,istoliftanalysesoffthepage,shiftingfromattentionfromabstracted,

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    disembeddedprinttexts/imagestothesituated,emplaced,embodiedactionsofthesetexts/imagestheirproductionandconsumption. )notherwords, turning froma twodimensional toa threedimensionalperspective.)ndeed,withindiscoursestudies,theconventionalnotionoftextisoftenexpandedifnotexplodedbeyondtheworddominantgenresofwritingorspeech.Thus,textualitycombinesandplayswiththerepresentationalaffordancesoflanguageaswellasthemultisensorypossibilitiesoftexture(sic),affectandothernonrepresentationalcf.Thriftor,atleast,morethanrepresentationalexperiences. )nthisregard,andasanintermediatesteptowardsthefourobjectsintroducedabove,)wanttoconnecttheLuxuryTravelFairwebsiteasanideal,contemporaryDtexttoanactual,Dsite:theBurjalArabhotelinDubaiwhichstylesitselftheworldsmostluxurioushotel.[]ThishotelisalsoaperfectmetonymicexampleoftheworldpromotedbytheLuxuryTravelFair.)nparticular,)wanttodemonstratehowtherhetoricsofthewebsiteactuallytakeplaceandaremademanifestinpractice. To properly understand the orders of discourse i.e. a network of social practices, cf.Fairclough,bywhichsuperelitemobilityisorganizedandrealized,oneisforcedtoengageafarmoreextensive,elaboratesemioticfield.(ere,forexample,ishowthelanguageoftheLuxuryTravelFairistakenupnotasimplycausalorsequentialrelationinthedepictionofasingleroomontheBurjalArabsownwebsite:

    DELUXETWOBEDROOMSUITEWelcometothedecadent335squaremetretwobedroomDeluxeSuite.Perfectforfamilyandfriends,thisheavenlysuitespanstwoimpeccablelevelsandfeaturesmagnificentviewsoftheArabianGulfthroughout.Thisspaceincludestwolounges,twoexquisitebedroomsoverlookingthesea,aprivatediningroom,twomasterbathrooms,aprivatebarandabutlerskitchen.This is the kind of hyperbolic linguistic flourish we quickly recognize as typical of advertisingdiscourse: deluxe, decadent, heavenly, impeccable and magnificentbut it isalsoa lexiconofexcess,superiorityandotherworldlinessespeciallytypicalof luxuryadvertisingcf.ThurlowandJaworski , . The semioticization the verbal rendition of space deserves specialattention.Luxuryandelitestatusarepredicatedonarelentlessperformanceofspacethisis,afterall,notaroombutasuitehavinglotsofitandhavingexclusive,privateunhinderedaccesstoit.And the staging of spaciousness depends on a range of multimodal techniques and semioticresources,startingwiththerhetoricalspecificityofquantificationsquaremetresandscalelevelsandviews.)mportantly,however,theserhetoricsarefulfilledintangible,embodiedandmaterialways.)ndeed,spaceitselfnotonlythetalkofspaceisanothersemioticresourcefortheperformanceofelitestatusanddistinction.Takealookatthemontageonp.drawnfromourownfieldwork cf. Thurlowand Jaworski formorebackgroundabout this research. This is thedeluxetwobedroomsuitewheretheproductionofspaceispatentlyspectacular,excessiveandfullymultimodal:chandeliers,classicalcolumns,floortoceilingwindows,canopiedbeds,andsoon.Alsonoticethesweeping,ornatei.e.attentionseekingstaircase,thedomedceilingmuralofastarrysky,theromanticwraparoundlandscapepaintingintheoneoftwobathrooms,andthebedorientedtothewindowsandtheendless,emptyskiesbeyond.)ndeed,theultimatevisualmaterial

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    performanceofsuperelitespaceisitsvacuousness:ostensiblystagedforoccupancyfourbarstools,multiplelivingrooms,granddiningtables,butpurposefullydesignedtobeunderutilizedliketheelevatornotshown.Aswehaveremarkedbefore,theexcessive,expansivespacesofluxuryhavespacestospareThurlowand Jaworski.Space isan indispensablesemioticresource in theperformanceandperformativerealizationofsuperelitestatus,aspowerfulperhapsmoresothanany words or images. )t is a resource ) have myself deliberately toyed with on p.. And thesediscursive practices circulate far beyond the literal spaces of luxury travel. Space, as bothrhetoric/salespitchandasstructural/materialreality,hasbecomeoneofthedefiningstratifiersofourtime:Todaymorethanever,says(enriLefebvre,classstruggleisinscribedinspace[],,althoughhemightnothaveforeseentheextentorminutedetailtowhichthisisplayingouttoday.Onthisnote,)turnnowtomypyjamasasthefirstofthefourobjects,eachframedasamultimodalvignette.Vignette1:PyjamasNotalonewithfurnishingfirstclasscustomerswithpyjamas,thenowdefunctallbusinessclassairlineeoshadapairlikethese,tiedtogetherwitharibbon,readyforeachpassengerakaguest.Medium,largeorextralarge?Withitsslightlyobscureclassicalallusion,thename eos appears as a machinestitched embroidered monogram, resonating with asimilarlyoldfashioned,regalstatusmarker.Thepyjamas,asurprisinglyestablishedtacticforperforming firstclass,areneatexamplesof syntheticpersonalizationwherebymasshowevereliteandrelativelyfewconsumersareseeminglytreatedpersonallyasuniqueindividualsworthyofspecialattentionandintimatecarecf.Fairclough.Needlesstosay,thedecadentfrissonandintimatepromiseofthesepyjamasdidnotmaterializeintheirembodiedexecution.Likeeveryoneelse,)assume,)contortedmyselfinelegantlyand,hadthedoorflungopen,compromisinglyinthebodyhuggingspaceoftheonboardtoilet.Suchwasmynavedeterminationtofulfilthepromiseofbeingstyledelite,)perseveredandthenemergedintothesoftlylitcabin.)nmypyjamas!)sleptnobetter,theplanearrivednoearlier,

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    buttherubofsoft,semisyntheticclothagainstmyskinreassuredmeofmycosy,privilegedpassage.Vignette2:PepperPotThe excess of the pyjamas is played out in smaller ways, too. (ere we have anotherperformanceofplentypredicatedonwasteratherthansustainability.)ndeed,)haveyettoreadastudywhichassessestheenvironmentalimpactofluxury.Thislittlepepperpotwaslifted from an elaborately staged businessclass dinner tray also, ) hasten to add, afieldworksiteliketheeostrip.)nsomeways,thistrinketisthequintessentialmultimodalluxury text: the white ceramic itself, the golden calligraphy of the Emirates logo, thedelicately painted more likely printed flourishes around the pot, and the inherentdisposabilityand,thus,extravaganceofitall. )t isnotthepracticalutilityoftheseobjectswhichcounts,ofcourse,butrathertheirexpressivefunction,theirnarrationintotheoverallstagingofluxuryandstatuscf.ThurlowandJaworski.Noram)aloneindrawingoffasymbolicresonancefromthesebanalobjects.Saltandpeppershakersalwaysaddatouchof class to ameal. So says one reviewer forAustralianBusinessTraveller.[] People donotice,peopledocare.Thesemioticgameswork.And,inthiscommentary,wefindevidencealso for the ways semiotic practices are constantly recontextaulized i.e. lifted up andcirculatedelsewhereandresemioticized,withmaterialresourcestransformedbackintolinguisticonestogetherwithnew/differentmeaningpotentials.Vignette3:NapkinMuchofwhat takesplaceacross the luxury landscapesof superelite travel is trivialandfleeting.Whatmarksthingsasluxuriousoreliteis,needlesstosay,itspackagingliteralandfigurative. )notherwords, inexpensive tat ismademagical throughakindofmultimodalalchemy. One ofmymost recent, nonfieldwork acquisitions comes from an unexpectedupgradetobusinessclasswhere)wasservedlunchalongwiththisprimeexampleofthe

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    primacyofdesignoversubstance.Contrastedwiththepapernapkinsineconomyclass,thislittleoneclaimsitsprestigethroughitsclothness,itslinennessavisualmaterialresourceformarkingdistinction,authenticity,qualityandtradition.Stylingitselfand,therebytheserviceandairlineasfancy,thisobjectworksitsmagiconmetoo:forjustamoment,)ampersuadedofitsauthenticityandallowmyselftobehailedasfancytoo.Andthen,oncloserinspectionsuchistheselfjustifyingcuriosityandselfsatisfyingcynicismofthescholar,)noticethatitisnotlinenatall:Thedrawnthreadworkisactuallyaseriesofprintedgreydots.Thewhole thing is an artful simulationof linenand, thus, aperfect exampleof theaestheticizationFeatherstoneofnaturalmaterials.Asemiotic,multimodalruse.Vignette4:TissuesAndnow,afarlesssubtleinstanceofaestheticizationatwork,onewhichaddsanothertwistto the multimodal alchemy. Superelite landscapes are awash with words appealing toprestige, superiority, exclusivity and distinction. The Luxury Travel Fair, for example,

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    promotesitselitistvisionofluxurybymeansofbespoke,boutique,tailormade,handpicked, definitive, finest, unique, firstclass, concierge, discerning, exclusiveandstyle.Allthat,onjustthehomepage;aquintessentialdiscursiveproduction,renderingputativelymaterial,physicalexperiencessemioticandexotic.Butwordsarenotmerelyorsimply symbolic; they are also materializing agents. )ndeed, wordthings like elite andprivilegecirculatefarbeyondofconfinesofsuperelitestatus/spacesfloatingsignifierswhich, when tied down and emplaced, performatively declare someone, something orsomewheresuperior,distinctiveand/orexclusivecf.ThurlowandJaworskiforthcoming,like thepacketof tissueshere. )alsohaveexamplesofplumbingcompanies,nailsalons,packetsofcoffeeandjarsofpickles.)nthiscase,elitistmeaningpotentialsareexpressednotonlyintheword,butthroughthecalligraphicitalicizationoftheword,andthroughtheappearance of elevated or embossed lettering i.e. the shaded edges.Whatwewitness,therefore,aresemioticactionstakingplaceinmobilespacese.g.onaeroplanes,butalsosemiotic tokens themselves on themove: genres, discourses, styles, singlewords. )n theprocess, elite status is normalized acrossmore farreaching terrains and for everwiderdemographics.No social semiotic analysis is complete without its criticalwithacapitalC denouement. )n thisregard,)wanttoendbyofferingtothreelooselysketchedobservationsorinterpretations,which)draw from some of our existing statements about the luxury landscapes of superelite mobilityspecifically,cf.ThurlowandJaworski,forthcoming.What)hopetohaveillustratedishowtherhetoricsofelitestatuslikethediscoursesofluxuryarenowadaysubiquitousandexpressedinthemostfastidiousways.Theyarealsofullymultimodaland,)believe,strategicallyso.Allofwhichspeaksofawiderpoliticaleconomyandadeeperculturalpolitics.)tispreciselyintheirordinariness,smallnessandbanalityasmuchastheirubiquitythatthefourrandomobjectsaboveaccruetheirrealideologicalforce. What has been presented here is ontheground, empirical evidence of a discursiveformationintheFoucauldiansenseatworkacrossmultiplesites,institutions,genres,modesandresources. My four objects are throwaway manifestations of a much bigger story about thereordering of contemporary class structures. These are the kinds of microlevel nanolevel?enactmentsofapostclassideologywhichnormalizesandrationalizeselitestatuse.g.throughthewidespread use of the word elite and which propagates a sense of privilege as somehowdomesticated and democratised. All these backdropped visions luxury wallpaper and banalmaterializationsnormalizetheverynotionofluxuryitself.Wemustallofusbeconstantlytaughttorecognizeluxurytoknowwhatitlookslikebutwemustalsobetaughttodesireitinthefirstplace.Andjustastherhetoricsofluxuryslideeasilyacrossspaces,thesensuousstuffofstatusgetsquicklyunderourskin.Regardlessofourpowerorwealth. Alongtheselines,andinkeepingwiththespiritofsocialsemiotics,)mustdeclaresomethingofmyownpositionality.)naresponsepaperforaneditedcollectiononelitemobility,AndrewSayeroffersaprettyemphatic,hardhittingcritiqueofscholarsworkinginthefieldofelitestudies

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    whosimplyappeartocelebrateratherthanproperlycritiquetheprivilegedworldsofwhichtheywrite.Oneway,)believe,toretainacriticaledgeistoremainselfcritical,neverlosingsightofmyowncomplicityinitalltorecognizethatpowerandprivilegeareneverneatlybounded,outtherephenomena.)ndoingmyownresearchonsuperelitemobilties,)havealwaysknownthatwhatreallyinterestedmewastryingtounderstandmycomplicitandoftenquiteexplicitrole.)twas,afterall,mewhocollectedtheobjectsofmyanalysishere;itwasmewhogottobeinsideasquaremetresuiteattheBurjalArabfieldworkornot,andmewhosecuredanupgradeoffthebackofmyownfrequent flying. We are all of us targets for aspirational luxury marketing and we are all of uspositionedbyelitistdiscourses.Theyarehardtoresist;theyarecertainlyimpossibletoavoid. Luxury landscapes are awash with stuff aural, visual, spatial, material and otherwise.)ndeed,averyfinelineifanyistobedrawnbetweenthevisualandtheverbal,thesymbolicandtheiconic,thematerialandtheimmaterial,thefunctionalandtheaesthetic.Andthedesignersandarchitectsofsupereliteluxurylandscapesarenotjustaestheticianstechnicalwizardsatmakingbanalstuffappearexceptional,makingcraplookfabulous;theyarealsosynaestheticians,appealingconstantly,strategicallyandexpertlytowhatGuntherKressseesasourinnatepotentialforshiftingbetweenandreadingacrossdifferentsemioticmodes.Tohearcolours,toseesoundsandtotastewords.Experiencing,forexample,languageasstuff,spaceassound,orbodiesasimagesandgeneratingnew/different socialmeanings out of these transmodal combinations.(erein, lies thedeep appeal and ideological effectiveness of superelite/luxury discourse: they appeal to, togglebetween and apparently collapsemodalitieswhichwe scholars otherwise dogmatically insist onkeepingapart.Assuch,itbecomesimpossiblesometimestoknowwherethingsbeginandend.3Bibliography3.1WorksCitedAdams, Tony E. and Stacy (olman Jones. Telling Stories: Reflexivity, Queer Theory, andAutoethnography.CulturalStudiesCriticalMethodologies.:.Aiello,Giorgia.TheoreticalAdvancesinCriticalVisualAnalysis:Perception,)deology,Mythologies,andSocialSemiotics.JournalofVisualLiteracy.:.Fairclough,Norman.AnalysingDiscourse:TextualAnalysis forSocialResearch. London:Routledge,.Featherstone,Michael.ConsumerCultureandPostmodernism.London:Sage,.(alliday, Michael A. K. Language as Social Semiotic: The Social Interpretation of Language and

    Meaning.Maryland.UniversityParkPress,.Jaworski, Adam, and Crispin Thurlow. )ntroducing Semiotic Landscapes. Semiotic Landscapes:Language,Image,Space.Ed.AdamJaworskiandCrispinThurlow.London:Continuum, .Jewitt,Carey,ed.TheRoutledgeHandbookofMultimodalAnalysis[nded.].London:Routledge,.Judd,DeaneB.,andGnterWyszecki.ColorinBusiness,ScienceandIndustry.WileySeriesinPureandAppliedOpticsrded..NewYork:Wiley)nterscience,.

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    Kress, Gunther.Multimodality:A Social SemioticApproach toContemporaryCommunication. NewYork:Routledge,.Kress,Gunther.BeforeWriting:RethinkingPathstoLiteracy.London:Routledge,.Kress, Gunther, andTheo vanLeeuwen.Reading Images:TheGrammarofVisualDesign. London:Routledge,.Kress,Gunther,andTheovanLeeuwen.MultimodalDiscourse:TheModesandMediaofContemporaryCommunication.London:Arnold,.Labov,William.LanguageintheInnerCity.Philadelphia:UniversityofPennsylvaniaPress,.Lefebvre,(enri.TheProductionofSpace.Oxford:BasilBlackwell,[].Machin,David.What)sMultimodalCriticalDiscourseStudies?CriticalDiscourseStudies.:.Norris,Sigrid,andRodneyJones,eds.DiscourseinAction:IntroducingMediatedDiscourseAnalysis.NewYork:Taylor&Francis,.Sayer,Andrew.Postscript:EliteMobilitiesandCritique.EliteMobilities.Ed.ThomasBirtchnellandJavierCaletro.London:Routledge,..Shankar, Shalini, and Jillian Cavanaugh. Language and Materiality in Global Capitalism. AnnualReviewofAnthropology:.Thrift,Nigel.NonrepresentationalTheory:Space,Politics,Affect.London:Routledge,.Thurlow,Crispin, andGiorgiaAiello. NationalPride,GlobalCapital:ASocialSemioticAnalysisofTransnationalVisualBranding in theAirline )ndustry.VisualCommunication . :.Thurlow,Crispin,andAdamJaworski.TheAlchemyoftheupwardlyMobile:SymbolicCapitalandthe Stylization of Elites in Frequentflyer Programmes.Discourse& Society . :.Thurlow,Crispin,andAdamJaworski. Silence )sGolden:Linguascaping,AnticommunicationandSocial Exclusion in Luxury Tourism Representations. Semiotic Landscapes: Image, Text,Space.Ed.AdamJaworskiandCrispinThurlow.London:Continuum,..Thurlow,Crispin,andAdamJaworski. Visible)nvisible:TheSocialSemioticsofLabour inLuxuryTourism.EliteMobilities. Ed. Thomas Birtchnell and Javier Caletro. London: Routledge,..Thurlow, Crispin, and Adam Jaworski. Elite Mobilities: The Semiotic Landscapes of Luxury andPrivilege.SocialSemiotics.:.Thurlow,Crispin,andAdamJaworksi.WordthingsandSpacesounds:TheSynaestheticRhetoricsofLuxury.LanguageandMateriality:EthnographicalandTheoreticalExplorations.Ed.JillianR.CavanaughandShaliniShankar.NewYork:OxfordUniversityPress,forthcoming.VanLeeuwen,Theo.IntroducingSocialSemiotics.London:Routledge,.

    3.2FurtherReadingJaworski,Adam,andCrispinThurlow,eds.SemioticLandscapes:Language, Image,Space. London:Continuum,.

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    Jewitt,Carey,ed.TheRoutledgeHandbookofMultimodalAnalysis[nded.].London:Routledge,.Machin,David.IntroductiontoMultimodalAnalysis.London:Bloomsbury,.Scollon, Ron and SuzieW. Scollon.Discourses inPlace: Language in theMaterialWorld. London:Routledge,.SocialSemioticsRoutledgeVanLeeuwen,Theo.IntroducingSocialSemiotics.London:Routledge,.VisualCommunicationSageEndnotes. Aworking definition ofmode is offered by Gunther Kress , as a socially andculturally shaped resource for making meaning. )mage, writing, layout, speech, movingimagesareexamplesofdifferentmodes.. These definitions for medium, mode and meaning are drawn from Kress and vanLeeuwen,,,.. Myfourartefactscome,respectively,fromArgentinathetissues,thenowdefunctBritishairlineeospajamas,andthebusinessclassservicesoftheUAEsEmiratesairlinepepperpotandtheSpanishairlineIberianapkin.. TheBurjalArabsmostluxurioushotelintheworldclaimisprominentlydisplayedonitswebsiteathttp://www.jumeirah.com/en/hotelsresorts/dubai/burjalarab/. Thisandoneotherrandomlyselectedinstanceofcommentaryaretobefoundonlinehere:http://www.ausbt.com.au/garudaindonesiabusinessclassfullyflatbedsuperbservicehttp://www.navjotsingh.com/airlinepr/emiratesairlinebangkoktodubaibusinessclassontheboeing