Multisemiotic artifacts between modes and media
The broad field of ‘multimodality’ covers a rather diverse collection of approaches and perspectives whose greatest common factor is that they investigate communicative situations where distinct forms of expression appear to be synergistically combined. The precise definition of what constitutes a distinct form of expression varies across schools of thought and this results in considerable uncertainty concerning just what is being addressed. A further contribution to uncertainty is the complexity of the phenomena being considered: it is still unclear just what dimensions of variation and stability are best suited to forming robust accounts. In this article I consider Parodi’s notion of multisemiotic artifacts as a level of description intermediate between semiotic modes, on the one hand, and genres and media on the other. I argue that such a level of abstraction provides a beneficial way of characterizing similarities and differences across genres that can aid both practical analysis and theoretical considerations of multimodal variation across communicative situations. Forming more extensive catalogues of such multisemiotic artifacts promises much for future research.