Chelyabinsk State University | Chelyabinsk, Russia
The coding of haptic aesthetics: multimodality of “slime-maniac” videos
The author would like to discuss the possibilities and limits of multimodal analysis in exploring media aesthetic effects in haptic-oriented cultures (an example of slime-culture: performative producing of “slimes” and communities of slime-prosumers in YouTube and Instagram will be examined in this presentation). The principal approaches to the haptic culture will be surveyed (Classen 2005; Paterson 2007; Cranny-Francis 2011; Parisi 2018). Concentrating on the aspect of mediatization of haptic sensations, the author suggests an approach close to McLuhan’s “tactile media” concept (1964), and its cinema-realization in Cronenberg’s “Videodrome” (1982). This theoretical frame can be applied to the narrative multimodal analysis of haptic-oriented videos (see about visual narrative: Bateman, Wildfeuer 2014).
The author suggests that the analysis of the mediated haptic culture needs to be organized according to three main objectives: (a) a “library of codes” of muscle and tactile sensations related to the various slime types; (b) spatial-timing characteristics of slime-producing and testing; (c) a verbal (and sometimes musical) component as “a backstage” (E. Goffman terminology) of haptic-oriented culture in concordance with the visual language of these videos. Each of these objectives can be considered independently from the others, but together they can help discover the complex “semefullness” (Cranny-Francis terminology) of this DIY activity and its popularity.
The three objectives are related to three major elements of “slime-maniacs”’ videos: performance of the material object (artifact), when the physical characteristics of different types of slimes must be demonstrated according to strict rules or limits (or sets of gestures); the scenario of representation including the process of producing (or “cooking”) the slime; the maker’s verbalization of his/her sensations when touching and reshaping the slime.
Multimodal (structuring and concordant) analysis can be simplified (because the slime-show is ritualized; it is mostly a repetition of the same actions); thus, we can provide “a general dense description” of the “slime-production” videos.
Bateman, J., Wildfeuer, J. (2014). A multimodal discourse theory of visual narrative. Journal of Pragmatics, 74, 180-208, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2014.10.001.
Classen, C. (2005). The Book of Touch. Oxford and NY: Berg.
Paterson, M. (2007). The senses of touch: haptics, affects, and technologies. Oxford and NY: Berg.
Cranny-Francis, A. (2011). Semefulness : a social semiotics of touch. Social Semiotics, 21(4), 463-481.
Parisi, D. (2018). Archaeologies of Touch: Interfacing with Haptics from Electricity to Computing. University of Minnesota Press.
PhD, a full professor of Journalism and Mass Communication department, articles and books on Cultural Studies and Media Aesthetics, chief-editor of research journals “Vestnik Chelyabinsk State University”, “Media-Environment” and others.