A Multimodal Approach to Rock Art

Activity: Talk or presentationPresentation


Title A Multimodal Approach to Rock Art
Person and role
Description In this presentation we discuss rock art from two interdependent perspectives, by studying some pertinent examples from South Scandinavian rock art. Firstly we argue that south Scandinavian rock art could on good grounds be defined as multi-sensorial, both sight and touch being important in the understanding of the images. Moreover, we suggest that each carving could be defined as an intersemiotic system following Jabobson (1959) and O’Halloran, Tan and Wignell (2016), consisting of different modalities, foremost of an iconic nature. A semiotic system is a bundle of features, in the case of petroglyphs including visual and tactile dimensions that are heterogeneous and dynamic. The rock art surface and the place (landscape) are important features within the system influencing the perception of the visual-tactile image on the one hand, and its position and size on the other. We also argue that the rock carvings are iconic signs, containing tactile markers often of an indexical nature. Since the tactile dimension is attributed as an important role to the understanding of an individual carving as the visual, we also discuss the possibility that touch equally was part of a shared collective cultural praxis of making and perceiving the images. In cultural semiotics this context is often called Ego-culture (Rédei C. 2007, 2019; Sonesson, 2016). Thus, we assume that since the carving of the image in itself was an essential part of the rock art, part of the experience of it included touch as well as vision. This has changed over time, and today vision seems to be overriding touch since we have lost the praxis if carving. By analyzing the carvings as signs, and further exploring then within the frames of an intersemiotic and multimodal analysis, we propose a richer approach to the interpretation of rock art.

2019 Aug 222019 Aug 24

Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • Humanities
  • Archaeology
  • Visual Arts
Related organisations
  • Linnaeus University
2019 Aug 222019 Aug 24

Event (Conference)

Title12th Conference of the IAVS-AISV
Abbrev. TitleIAVS-AISV
Web address (URL)
LocationCentre for Languages and Literature, Lund University
Degree of recognitionInternational event

Related projects

Tomas Persson, Anna Cabak Rédei, Michael Ranta & Peter Skoglund


Project: ResearchInterdisciplinary research, National collaboration

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