Capstone Project

Language Text and Technology

By Brandon van Sluis

During the process of developing my capstone project, I conducted research to help me establish a conceptual framework that included my chosen terms.

When deciding what course terms to base my project on, I started with concepts that I already had an established interest in. For me, the most intriguing term/concept from the course material was that of sound. I used this as a launching point for deciding my other two chosen words.

I thought about the ways in which sound influences other spaces and mediums, and what terms would bring the most out of the driving term of sound behind my media project. Ultimately I decided on the terms of text and video to accompany my chosen word of sound. Connecting these terms together in the context of a media project allowed for me to break down the possibilities of combining the three words. Sound is often left out of conversations involving mediums and communication spaces. This is perhaps due to acoustic space being so inherent in our consciousness as human beings. It is easy to forget how vital sound is in the support of other mediums. The medium of video is almost universally tied to sound, with the two going hand-in-and when displaying content and communicating information. This connection between auditory and visual elements was a significant inspiration for developing my multimedia project. In making my multimedia project, a main goal of mine was to discover how sound can be enhanced through text and video. In this way, my project is centered around sound. The other chosen words of text and video work to enhance the sounds in my project. This leads into my research question which asks how efficiently and to what degree can non-audio elements influence sound?

In the context of my multimedia project, the key word of sound is the main subject of interest. This is due partly to (as previously mentioned) sound being the key term that is influenced by the other terms. In addition to this, sound is also the focal point due to it being presented in the form of music. When thinking about what connections to make with the word sound and the other key words of text and video, much of my research and thinking can be found by examining aspects of my multimedia project. The key word sound has a multifaceted role in my project. Not only does sound provide the focus of music for the artifact, it is also the key component due to my other chosen words influencing it (sound). This results in attention being drawn towards the element of sound, due to it being creatively intriguing in itself (music) as well as being influenced by the other chosen words. In this sense, the words text and video play supporting roles in my multimedia project.

One might first examine the influence text has over sound and how they interact in regards to my project. One observation might be that text has the potential to enhance sound through the visual medium that sound does not possess. This idea is illustrated in the book Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word by Walter Ong. In the article, Ong talks about how “Without writing, words as such have no visual presence, even when the objects they represent are visual. They are sounds. You might ‘call’ them back—‘recall’ them. But there is nowhere to ‘look’ for them” (31). In the case of my project, Ong’s statement is true in the sense that my sounds alone have no visual presence. To preserve the sounds in a visual manner, the use of text becomes useful. In my project, text allowed me to represent musical sounds with english letters spelling out instrumental noises. In my project this is especially important because the musical sounds were all composed/written by me. This allowed me to create music with the intention of representing it later as words in text.

The use of text to represent musical sounds with made up words can be closely tied to the concept of speech. Speech, much like sound (or music) is an auditory experience that is greatly enhanced by the addition of text. This allows the auditory elements to be documented in a visual way that they would not normally be transcribed. It is important to note that speech and language are reflective of one another. My project uses the English language to translate sounds that have no real words assigned to them. In this sense the viewing experience of the listener is dependent on their knowledge of the english language. Linguist Carmen Fought, in the article What Speech Do We Like Best?, sheds light on how the use of speech is subjective. “Interestingly, many of us consider our way of speaking to be neutral. It’s hard for us to hear features of our own speech that might be obvious to people who speak other dialects” (PBS). For example someone who doesn’t speak a language reflected by/written using latin-based letters wouldn’t have the understanding that my text representation of “thump” represents the drums in one of my music tracks. Closely tied to this is the idea of readability. For someone who is a non-English speaker, the text in my project mine as well be in Lorem Ipsum. In fact, the practice of Lorem Ipsum holds similar principles to what my text tries to accomplish. “The point of using Lorem Ipsum is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters, as opposed to using 'Content here, content here', making it look like readable English” ( In my project it is intended for the viewer to read the text as readable English, with the additional influences of text animations and representative sound. Again, the focus is English, illustrating how important the knowledge of a specific language and text is in order to understand the messages of projects like this one.

While many media artifacts in modern culture are focused around the medium of video, my project uses video as a backdrop of sorts. This means that the video elements match and mimic the musical sounds in my project. This is done mainly through representation of genre. For example in my project one of the musical works includes an acoustic guitar played by me. For this audio track I included video of me strumming the guitar as a backdrop to the music. Much like the text, the video element works in support of the main focus of sound in my project. This is evident when observing the nature of the video elements. To again use the guitar track as an example, one will find that the strumming in the video is meant to match the separate audio of a guitar mixed in with percussion. Due to my process of composing the music tracks before deciding video elements, I was able to use the video as an enhancement to already established sounds.

Video elements in my media project are involved in the remediation of the sound content. As previously stated, the sound content is the base of the project. Because of this, the content that is remediated is that of sound content. My specific remediation process in this project when discussing video is appropriation of content from the medium of sound to the medium of video. Marshall McLuhan ties this idea together nicely. “The content of any medium is always another medium” (The Medium is the Message). Specifically, my project appropriates my written musical content (from the medium of sound) into a video translation. This translation is in the form of video content that is representative of the genres of music in my project. For example, my project translates heavy metal music into a video representation by displaying video of a mosh pit at a concert of a similar genre.

This practice of translating content from one medium to another can be found in various historical instances where any form of media is used. A good example of this is found in the 1930s in how voice actors and sound artists would translate content of stories written on paper into a sound-based show that mimicked story sounds through the use of clever tools (Back of the Mic youtube video). The way that sound artists in this era creatively re-created sounds using practical means is reflective of practices in my project. For example, the way that they mimicked the sound of milling a cow by squeezing a tub with water reminds me of how in my project I mimicked the sounds of sci-fi/alien-sounding synths with a video representation of a cosmic background and a UFO floating in the sky. The difference here is that while the 1930s artists were mimicking sounds with other means of producing that sound, my project mimicked sounds with the use of an entirely different medium altogether in the form of video.

The process of creating this capstone project helped me further grasp the connections between the terms sound text and video. One of my goals with this project was to push the boundaries of normal communication between mediums. I tried to view this project in terms of the ways in which sound can be influenced by text and video. The use of modern media affordances allowed me to test out the possibilities when interconnecting my 3 terms and forming a project. “While new media are understood in terms of the older media that precede them, they are nonetheless freed, at least to some extent, from traditional constraints” (32). This quote from Lev Manovich’s The Language of New Media highlights my thought process as I experimented with ways to interconnect my musical compositions with text and video elements. Manovich’s description of new media as being free of constraints was a big inspiration when I was attempting to connect my 3 terms. By combining the affordances of sound, text, and video I was able to break through the traditional constraints of the mediums. I did this by making up for one medium’s weakness with another’s strength. This way, the elements of sound, text, and video all bring the best out of each other and have higher potential to create engaging media artifacts.

Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. MIT Press, 2010.

McLuhan, Marshall. The Medium Is the Message. Gingko Press, 2005.

Ong, Walter J. Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2013. (31.)

Ong, Walter J. Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2013. (80.)

Tran, Brandon. YouTube, YouTube, 15 Nov. 2014, Back of the Mic - Old Time Radio Sound Effects 1938

“Famous Writing Quotes: Inspirational Author Quotes on Writing.”,

“Lorem Ipsum.” Lorem Ipsum - All the Facts - Lipsum Generator,

“What Speech Do We Like Best.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service,