Volume 8, Issue 2, 2011
Values and Intercultural Communications
Asunción López-Varela Azcárate
Intertextuality and Intermediality as Cross-cultural Comunication Tools
A Critical Inquiry
Cross-cultural communication is about generating dialogical positions across cultural barriers. Communication is achieved when participants are able to construct meaning across varied sign systems. Oral communication makes use of a wide range of signs that contribute to make meaning, from eye contact to gestures and speech. In written/printed communication, together with the reproduction of visual images through painting, photography, etc., the most important resource is the textual format. Texts are grounded on a cognitive deictic basis and work alongside the cause-effect relationship that links events in human working memory. This relationship frequently posits a hierarchical dependency between the understanding of visual images, textuality and narrativity. Although texts are vehicles of contextualized information and cultural positions are often presented in a historiographical way, culture is not just about textuality; it is also about multimodality, that is, the use of symbolic forms that employ simultaneously several material-semiotic resources to create a kind of common framework of socially acceptable behaviours and customs which arise both from individual personal experiences and from shared cultural and ethical values. Signs are
used to represent these values and, in turn, these representations affect their further emotional interiorization. This creates particular strong moments of remembrance and recollection in human memory. In addition, the production, distribution and reception of culture has always been dependent on changing material formats and technologies, from manuscripts to printed books, from mural painting to photography, and from architecture to virtual recreations on a computer screen. In recent years, the interest in intertextual and intermedial configurations is mostly due to the growth of hypermedia paradigms, and is reflected in the increasing number of disciplinary publications and conferences devoted to the topic. This paper shall explore the reasons behind a renewed interest in intertextual and intermedial manifestations in cross-cultural communication.