Lauer Reading Response

Example 1: New York Mapping

My first multimodal project is “New York Mapping” by Mark Edward Campos, a student of Architecture at California College of the Arts. It is a map of a specific location in New York City and the places surrounding the location. The map is in a circular shape representing a 24-hour period. The surrounding places are represented by colored coded arcs, which appear on the map only during the hours of day that the places are open. “The “gaze” and “energy” charts of the map attempt to take a stance on what people are trying to achieve by going to each place” (Wiederkehr). The corresponding video shows an orb traveling through the 24-hour period and the corresponding noises coming from surrounding places during this time.

“New York Mapping” meets Lauer’s definitions of both multimodal and multimedia, which are seemingly interchangeable. It is a multimodal project because information is represented through the modes of “words, sounds, still and moving images, animation and color” (Lauer 227). It is also a multimedia project because it uses multiple modes “(such as image, animation, and sound) disseminated through a single medium (such as a computer screen)” (Lauer 229).

This project is far more effective because it is multimodal/multimedia. Even though just the map would be considered a multimodal/multimedia project according to Lauer’s definitions, the video aspect of the project adds a higher level of understanding what the author is trying to communicate. “The medium of the screen is becoming the primary site where multiple modes can be composed to make meaning in dynamic ways” (Lauer 227).

Example 2: The New Yorker iPad App

My second multimodal project is The New Yorker app for the iPad. I’ve posted an advertisement for the app, which is basically an introduction on how to use it. It’s just an issue of The New Yorker, with some extras such as video and audio included with the stories. It also gives you the option of scrolling quickly through stories and the ability to access all of the issue’s cartoons at once.

I’m going to insert an opinion in here. The New Yorker app is multimedia/multimodal, but it is done in such a way that it isn’t really necessary. Lauer states that, “modes and media are independent of and interdependent with each other, meaning that although media and modes are different from each other, the media we use affect the ways in which we can realize meaning through various modes. For instance, the mode of writing is affected differently by the affordances and limitations of the medium of the book versus the medium of the screen” (Lauer 227). There are not enough differences between a printed version of The New Yorker and this app to make the app worth having. The publication is essentially the same in both media, which is surprising considering the interactive possibilities of the iPad. I certainly don’t think enough thought was given to The New Yorker app such as, “identifying who the audience for a particular text will be, what the purpose is, and which modes or combination of modes might best suit the communicative event” (Lauer 237). It seems to fall flat as a multimodal/multimedia text and perhaps, because of it’s target audience, is better suited to print form anyhow.

Example 3: Man or Astro-man? Performance

My final multimodal project is a live performance from the band Man or Astro-man? They are a mostly instrumental surf rock band that incorporates sounds and images from old science-fiction movies and television shows into their records and performances. Their performances are multimedia because they incorporate television, film, and recorded voices into their sets along with their music. They are multimodal because of their use of sound, image, and color.
Man or Astro-Man? uses multimedia/multimodality both to maintain a solid and consistent image as well as to enhance their live shows. During a show they have a large screen behind them playing clips from old sci-fi films and television. Their songs each begin with a sound bite from the same. Lauer says that, “Briand recognized the multi-channeled characteristics of multimedia and its ability to “assault” students on as many sense levels as possible” (Lauer 226). I think that Man or Astro-Man? also understand how to use multimedia/multimodality to “assault” their audience. Seeing them live is really captivating. Although the music is good, without the spectacle provided by the multimedia/multimodal aspect of the performance, they wouldn’t have the same effect on an audience. Although, Man or Astro-man? are a more underground band, I think that similar uses of multimedia/multimodality in performance are manipulated by more commercial artists in order to sell themselves as a product. If Lauer’s whole idea is that multimedia is commercial and multimodal is academic, though they are used interchangeably, I suppose this would make this particular project multimedia.


Lauer, Claire. “Contending with Terms: “Multimodal” and “Multimedia” in the Academic and Public Spheres.” Computers and Composition. 26. (2009): 225-239. Print.

Wiederkehr, Benjamin. “Sound Mapping in New York City.” Interactive Things, 26/08/2010. Web. 28 Sep 2010. <;.

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