Hearing Type and Seeing Music: Multisensory Harmonies in Digital Communication

By Soo C. Hostetler.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Music is a communicative, expressive and inspirational form that is used effectively to convey artistic and aesthetic emotional depth. Listening to music is unique in its potential for conveying emotional dimension. Using nonverbal sound structure, music works in a way that enhances the perceptual capabilities of the human mind. As we heighten our ability to perceive multisensory phenomena, we become more able to express and understand visual communication in ways that are both objective and systematic. The technical evolution of digital media makes it increasingly possible to convey a two-dimensional visual syntactical structure in four dimensions, using space and time. Like motion, music is a time-based media, and shares many of the qualities of motion. The properties of sound (intensity, duration, pitch and tone) are closely related to the properties of motion. The elements of music (melody, harmony and rhythm) are similar to the elements designers use in two-dimensional typographic structures. The complex interaction of typography, music and motion play a vital role in time-based visual communication to create an intangible form of aesthetic quality. In time-based visual communication, music can be interwoven with compositional form attributes, typography and motion to convey an emotional aura, to instill harmony, and to enhance the dynamic visual appeal of the message. This presentation provides an overview of a design course in which students learn to make metaphors of visual communication, through the combined, complex use of typography, music and motion. Throughout the course, experimental musical forms are actively analyzed, with regard to aspects that derive from both personal and cultural sources. Students increasingly come to regard time-based visual communication as a means of conveying emotion, as multi-layered self-expression, and as compounded artistic invention that addresses our inborn awareness of time, space, sound and visual form.

Keywords: Music, Motion, Kinetic Typography, Multisensory Harmony, Digital Visual Communication

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.133-140. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 646.256KB).

Soo C. Hostetler

Assistant Professor, Department of Art, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA, USA

Soo Hostetler is an assistant professor of Graphic Design at the University of Northern Iowa. She received her MFA in Graphic Design at Iowa State University and MA in Graphic Design at the University of Northern Iowa. She has specialized as a typeface designer, publication designer and book designer. Her area of expertise is in multi-media designs such as kinetic typography, interface design and web design. Recently, Hostetler’s scholarly work has emphasized motion graphics, particularly kinetic typography and interdisciplinary research integrating motion, music and mathematical proportions utilizing digital technology. Her work has appeared in national and international exhibitions, and at such conferences as the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), International Digital Media and Art (iDMAa), Hawaii International Conference on Art and Humanities: International Conference on Camouflage: Art. Science and Popular Culture, and Mathematical Association of America: MathFest.

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