Kalantzis and Cope on Gestural Design Elements


What do the meanings refer to?

  • What is the particular meaning of a gesture? What is its distinguishable form? (e.g. hand movement, body positioning and movement, posture, facial expression, gait, direction of gaze, fashion, makeup, hairstyle etc.).
    • How is personality referred to? (e.g. dress, demeanour).
    • How is space and dimension referred to? (e.g. near/far).
    • How is time referred to? (e.g. fast/slow movement, beat).
    • How is an object represented gesturally? (e.g. mime).
    • What general concept does a gesture represent? (e.g. ‘stop’).
    • How are characteristics represented? (e.g. size, repetition).
    • How are relations represented? (e.g. connection/disconnection).



How do the meanings connect the people in the action and the people who are communicating?

  • How does the gesture position the gesture-maker?
  • How might another person be expected to interpret the gesture? How does gesture affect the interpersonal relations between participants? (proxemics e.g.: doctor/patient, teacher/student, priest/congregation, touching).



How does the overall meaning hold together?

  • How is the gesture structured? e.g. the phases of a gesticulation: preparation, stroke, retraction; or a sentence in deaf sign language.
  • What are its internal components and how do they combine to make meaning? (such as strongly/weakly integrated, action sequences, patterns of gesture across a social interaction e.g. purchasing a cup of coffee, sending someone up, role play, dance, theatre).
  • How is a pattern of gesture and sequence of gestures integrated? (such as demeanour, deportment, behaviour: formal/informal, anger/warmth, a stranger/friendship/ intimacy)
  • What are its perceptible ways of referring (e.g. literal or iconic tracing of a movement, pointing to something, abstract-iconic representation, naturalism/performance, spontaneous/premeditated, conscious/unconscious).
  • How is the gesture defined by its bodily features and materials? (e.g. facial expressions or clothing).



How are the meanings shaped by where they are situated?

  • How is the gesture framed by its context of situation? (e.g. uniforms, pointing).
  • How does the gesture connect into a universe of gestural resemblances (such as styles, fashion, forms of decorum (e.g. effeminate/masculine, politeness/rudeness)?



Whose interests do these meanings serve?

  • How does the gesture indicate certain priorities on the part of the person making the gesture?
  • How is does the gesture selectively support a position or affirm a role or stance? (e.g. happiness/sadness, power/equality, sincerity/insincerity).
  • Whose interests does the gesture support, and to what extent is this at the expense of other interests? (e.g. concealment/transparency, bodily aura, magic tricks).
  • How do constellations of gestural meaning express feeling and identity? (e.g. pretentiousness/authenticity, hierarchy/equality).

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