Q1: Why is it important for VACS to consider intergenerational issues from the perspective of multimodality?
A: Multiliteracies allow us to engage our senses in new ways, accessing and developing new parts of our awareness and brain functioning. Engaging in the multiple ways of understanding and expressing information, such as the visual, auditory, spatial, and gestural modes, can bring us deeper connection to our understanding of ourself, and especially with our understanding of others. They provide us with a medium through which we can connect with others, such as making music together, actively listening to natural sounds together, making collaborative visual art, sharing physical space together, dancing together, for example. These activities are like a gateway into a higher sensory experience, and therefore provide an opportunity to developing and sharing collective understanding in the shared inner subjective world, where life finds its richest and most complex meaning. There may be much room between youth and elders to form connections in our age segregated society, but if it is only through conventional conversation they may be missing out on bonding opportunities that fully honour both the higher wisdom of elders and questioning ambition of youth. The true spirit of youth and elders is best expressed through the multimodal forms of expression, and therefore it is important for VACS to consider intergenerational issues across multimodal communications and representations. Not only because it taps into the potential of each demographic individually, but because the potential of connecting these two demographics through multimodal expression with allow their bond to bring fruition to their strengths like never before.
Q2: Why is it important for VACS to challenge community members to combat ageism?
A: The idea of multimodal communications and representations emerged out of the recognition that our technological society has changed the way we communicate, and therefore we need to become literate in multiple forms of new communications. This is particularly important when recognizing how elders might have different access or abilities in regards to technology in comparison to younger generations who have grown up with it. But no one should be left behind due to technology, and it is important that everyone, no matter your age, feels like they can communicate with others in a way that is nourishing. Therefore, it is important to consider how to decrease the barriers of communication with elders and what role younger generations, and the VACS community, play in this process. Expressing yourself within the artistic multimodal expressions can be a very intimate process, and it also helps bring more meaning to our connection to ourself and others. If elders are retired and find their life without work has less meaning, engaging in multimodal forms of expression may let the soul sing the melody it truly wants to sing. Elders need to have an activity to continuously develop their skills on to feel achievement and reward, and the multimodal expressions are a perfect avenue! Therefore, the VACS community members should be thinking about how elders face barriers of participation with multimodal activities, especially because they may benefit from these connections the most.
Q3: What are some of the challenges faced by VACS in designing a program to promote multiliteracies? How do we begin to overcome these challenges?
A: The inner subjectiveness of connecting with multimodal expressions can be difficult to navigate, especially because these connections are in realms that can be understood more through feelings than rationality. Multimodal connections are diverse and ambiguous and mysterious, our connection to the art forms has always touched our souls in ways beyond our comprehension. And so, in our attempt to design programs that promote multiliteracies, we cannot say what an individual “should” be experiencing, but rather set up a platform where they can step into their senses fully, with the right mindset, and with inspiring food for thought. Therefore, we must encourage dialogue in a certain direction without expecting a certain endpoint. To overcome this challenge, I think we must validate each participants unique connection with their subjective feelings when engaging within a mode, and encourage conversation that recognizes that our diversity in experience is what brings the most interesting conversation and ideas.
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Quoting with appreciation:
“These activities are like a gateway into a higher sensory experience, and therefore provide an opportunity to developing and sharing collective understanding in the shared inner subjective world, where life finds its richest and most complex meaning.” –– Klara Huebsch, Summer 2021 Intern, Vancouver Colloquium Society speaking of ‘Multiliteracies’ June 2021