Check out my Senior Year Reflections project here.

The Audience is the Subject and the Medium

I created this multimodal project to showcase all of the emotions I have felt and shared with my fellow senior classmates. Using several mediums-photos, words, and videos, I have tried to capture authentic reflections from people who are generally not sought after for advice; that is, seniors don’t usually get asked for advice, they are asking for it constantly. At the same time, there is much to be learned from seniors at this pivotal stage of life. I wanted to honor my friends by recording their thoughts and opinions and share them with whoever might find it valuable.

I made this for a college-aged audience, both to entertain seniors with their classmates’ remarks and to advise underclassmen who will be seniors. Since all of my content is original and from seniors, the audience is the subject and the medium. Seniors watching seniors, reading seniors’ thoughts, and seeing seniors’ photos, who are all speaking to seniors. I wanted to capture the distilled senior experience by asking specific questions and capturing brief quotes, rather than have to cut their longer responses.

The message determines the medium, and the medium augments the message.

The message of senior year advice and experience made me want to describe it in an accessible and linear medium. I chose Microsoft Sway because of its simple platform and linear scrolling feature. I added photos, interviews, and text to tell the stories in a way that would convey a sense of time during the senior year. The themes are arranged chronologically and emotionally; the feelings change with each passing month, as time between now and graduation quickly shortens.

As users navigate my project, specifically scrolling chronologically through themes that occur during senior year, the message of time passing, etc. is reinforced. I chose the medium Sway to convey this message and the Sway design reflects the experience of senior year digitally. Memories are associated with themes (Excitement, anxiety, etc.) and chronological dates ground them in a universal experience. Users can progress through the themes and experience the up and down cadence of senior year, even if the reflections I catalogue are not identical to their own. My own narrative serves as a kind of journal in time, so the linear scrolling imitates flipping through a journal.

Design Choices

I have tried to achieve what Designs of Meaning describes under their “Compose” element: “We can think of transmedia as exhibiting compositionality. Individual parts of the narrative and their overall arrangement across platforms affect the experience of a text and often help shape a story or brand identity.” I used various mediums for a few reasons:

  1. It made it interesting.
  2. It was more feasible to interview some live and request text responses from others.
  3. The diversity of mediums show that emotions can be expressed in a variety of ways and it differs from person to person.

Marshall McLuhan is famous for his media theory, namely that,”the medium is the message.” How we express ourselves matters as much as the content we express, if not more. Those I interviewed collected themselves differently before sharing: those interviewed live took a moment to process before being ready to speak and those who responded to my Google form likely thought for a moment or wrote, backspaced, and rewrote responses. The method of composition varies from person to person, so no quote, video, or interview was captured the same way or captured the same emotion. McLuhan says, “The consequences of any medium (extension of ourselves) results from the new scale introduced into our affairs by each extension, or by any new technology.” Therefore, even using technology like Google forms and iPhone cameras, impacts the medium’s final product and effect.

While the interview is a fairly traditional form, it can take a number of shapes. My interviews display seniors in a few ways, some staged and some in normal conversation. The medium did determine their message and expression as well as the effect on the audience. I hope that the overall result is encouragement from peers and greater reflection about the pivotal stage of senior year.