Law Is Not or Must Not Be Just Verbal and Visual in the 21st Century: Toward Multisensory Law
Dan Jerker B. Svantesson & Stanley Greenstein (editors) Internationalisation of Law in the Digital Information Society: Nordic Yearbook of Law and Informatics 2010-2012
69 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2013 Last revised: 8 Aug 2015
Date Written: 2013
Humans are multisensory beings and live in a multisensory world. Human communication involves the production and perception of messages, as well as the five senses (hearing, vision, touch, taste, and smell). Multimodal or multisensory systems are capable of receiving and sending information by using various sensory channels involving vision, hearing, and movement, but preferably all five senses. Such computer systems are used not only in human communication but also in machine communication. These systems have brought forth a trend toward multisensory digital communication practices in the 21st century. Such multisensory digital media help us produce meaning by using two or more discrete sign systems (i.e., audio-visual, visual-kinaesthetic, tactile-kinaesthetic, and so forth). The advent of digital media and their implications for the law has prompted some scholars to suggest that a visual turn is also occurring in the legal context. Whereas this may be partly true, by restricting or confining the law to the verbal and visual, legal discourse has difficulties in becoming sufficiently aware of multisensory digital media and thus fails to adequately explore these media and their impact on the law — in overt contradiction to the growing significance of such media. Overemphasising both verbal and visual legal communication leads to marginalising or even to ignoring other modalities of already existing or future digital legal communication. Given these problems, this paper seeks to develop tentative answers to five key questions: 1. What is multisensory law? 2. What are the impacts of multisensory digital media on the law? 3. How could or rather should greater awareness be raised in legal discourse about the current and future relevance of multisensory digital media for the law? 4. How could or rather should the marginalising and ignoring of multisensory digital legal communication practices be challenged? 5. How are these research questions relevant to legal discourse, particularly legal history, legal informatics, legal pedagogy, legal psychology, and legal theory? In addressing these questions, this paper draws on insights from different legal and non-legal disciplines, such as the anthropology of the senses, communication studies, legal history, legal informatics, legal psychology (therapeutic jurisprudence), legal theory, multisensory law, perceptual psychology, and so forth.
Keywords: multisensory law, visual law, audio-visual law, legal theory, legal history, law and psychology, legal pedagogy, legal psychology, therapeutic jurisprudence
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