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Teaching and Learning Multimodal Communications

Alyssa Arbuckle, Alison Hedley, Shaun Macpherson, Alyssa McLeod, Jana Millar Usiskin, Daniel Powell, Jentery Sayers, Emily Smith, Michael Stevens, Authors

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Star Wars - Formal Analysis in the Absence of Context

The audio and font work together to simulate the experience of the typewriter. After the title, the first media we encounter is the audio sound of three typewriter returns and then the sounds of indents. The audio signals that the experience has begun without any input from the reader. Each letter that flashes corresponds with the clicking sound of the typewriter, but the sounds in between draw attention to the white space that the writer must cross to reach the next letter. Still, the simulation draws us away from the human element of creativity; we do not encounter the stalls or silence of writer's block, nor do we experience the whiteout of mistakes. The text has already been written, and it cannot be altered. We cannot have the experience of a pre-Star Wars creative process.
The video is embedded in a white space. The colour enables a continuum between the Flash object and the page it's embedded in. The absence of a visible boundary between the page and the Flash object highlights questions raised by the project. Why don't the letters trail across the page as they are typed, as they would if we were using a typewriter? Why does the designer choose to isolate the letters one by one? 

The use of space also speaks to the absence of formal materiality. This lack of contextual information speaks to the power of the title. We are in no need of cultural context to understand this appropriated text. In fact, we don't need to be able to read the words to understand meaning. Readers who access this text will probably already have at least some knowledge of the Star Wars franchise, and even when the letters scroll too fast, their understanding will stem from previous encounters with the movies. This highlights Fuller's point that "standard objects are always in combination with other forms of life" (9).

Author: Jana Millar Usiskin
Word Count: 314

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