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Posts Tagged ‘Abstract Comics’

Well, we didn’t received, yet, a copy of this colossal compilation edited by Aarnoud Rommens and with the collaboration of Benoît Crucifix, Björn-Olav Dozo, Erwin Dejasse & Pablo Turnes. But we share the photo and the text that Paul Gravett mention in is facebook page, just for general information. From our little corner, this book have the participation of Cátia Serrão, Pedro Moura and myself, with the abstract sequence O arco da noite branca donne in Mexico City some years ago.

«From Alberto Breccia’s Lovecraftian nightmares and Jack Kirby’s cosmic ‘Krackle’ to Yokoyama Yuichi’s geometric intensities, this madly interesting, thought-provoking and challenging collection arrived today. ABSTRACTION AND COMICS comes in a slipcase containing two volumes of over 440-pages each, 888 in all, brimming with essays and artworks by 52 contributors, including aetens, Erwin Dejasse, Hugo Frey, SimJan Bon Grennan, Gene Kannenberg Jr, Pascal Lefèvre, Ilan Manouach, Gert Meesters, Pedro Moura and Barbara Postema, all enquiring into what abstraction can offer to comics. Writings and images are published in their original languages, the majority in English (nine of the essays are in French). It’s just been published by Belgian mavericks La 5e Couche (5c) and Presses Universitaires de Liège, co-ordinated by ACME Comics Research Group in Liège. The cunning Op-Art, eye-test covers are by Martin Vitaliti (the sources look to me like John Buscema 1970s romance comic books?). The 9th Art in all its forms always hides surprises in its past and still offers so many more to come…»

O arco da noite branca

This is not a book about abstract comics. Instead, it combines original, new comics and multiple texts to explore what abstraction can offer to comics, and what comics can do for abstraction. By doing so, Comics and Abstraction occasions a critical engagement with issues such as ‘high’ versus ‘low’ art; art history and comics studies; literature, poetry, drawing and writing; highbrow, lowbrow, nobrow, and so on. “Comics and Abstraction” generates a space of contradiction where the essays and images stand in a relation of tension. Some of the included texts are more historically-oriented, some take a decidedly semiotic approach, while others are more concerned with formal features. This multiplicity is echoed by the markedly different aesthetics of the comics, which do not necessarily ‘illustrate’ the theoretical frames of the essays. It is ultimately up to the reader to create the meaningful paths that connect abstraction and comics.’ 36 euros, available from https://5c.be/5c_catalogue.html and http://www.presses.uliege.be/jcms/c_21487/acme-4

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This is the second, and last part, of Arnoud Rommens esay ‘Deep’ Time in Times of Precarity: Experimental Comics as ‘Dark Matter’. In this edition wee only publish the section regarding the book Meteorologies.

What this poeticization of informational imagery means is unclear: All we can do is offer reading hypotheses. Perhaps Conefrey’s comic is a post-apocalyptic polyphony, confronting us with abstract, speculative landscapes handed down to us from a barren future in which all decoders have become extinct. Perhaps the panels are snapshots of future storms raging for centuries, like those on a lifeless planet like Jupiter, showing the precarity of our current ‘home.’

Whatever we think we understand, what cannot be ignored are the fluctuations in energy of the drawing hand—the ductus, the marks of the graphiator. Not starting from sketches or pencil drawings, the lines are the ‘score’ of improvisations—a ‘jam session’—set directly to ink. Changes in pressure applied to the surface—alternating ‘high’ and ‘low pressure areas’—reveal different moods. The volatility of drawing is further underscored by the fact that they are housed in digitally-drawn panels. The precise, digital lines of the panels contrast with the gesturality that speaks from the ‘wind-choreographies.’

Moreover, the comic is not just the appropriation of a vast databank of scientific imagery. The more angular “Small Worlds” chapter is an appropriation of Vasily Kandinsky’s portfolio Kleine Welten (1922) to the medium of drawing and comics. Although not intended as such by the artist, I see this as a tactical move. As the ‘graphic novelisation’ of a series of artworks by one of the main figures in the history of abstraction, it makes us conscious of the cultural hierarchies that organise cultural institutions. Rather than relegate Kandinsky to the safety of the museum, Conefrey revives his work by taking it as the basis for his visual research. In doing so, Meteorologies emblematises what artist and critic Gregory Sholette has dubbed “dark matter.” Given the comic’s suggestions of a ‘deep,’ cosmic timescale, it seems an apt heuristic metaphor.

As Sholette explains, Astrophysicists describe dark matter (and dark energy) as forming an invisible mass predicted by the big bang theory, yet so far only perceived indirectly by observing the motions of visible, astronomical objects such as stars and galaxies. (…) The gravitational presence of this unseen force presumably keeps the universe from flying apart. (…) Like its astronomical cousin, creative dark matter also makes up the bulk of the artistic activity produced in our post-industrial society. However, this type of dark matter is invisible primarily to those who lay claim to the management and interpretation of culture—the critics, art historians, collectors, dealers, museums, curators, and arts administrators. It includes makeshift, amateur, informal, unofficial, autonomous, activist, non-institutional, self-organized practices—all work made and circulated in the shadows of the formal art world, some of which might be said to emulate cultural dark matter by rejecting art world demands of visibility, and much of which has no choice but to be invisible. While astrophysicists are eager to know what dark matter is, the denizens of the art world largely ignore the unseen accretion of creativity they nevertheless remain dependent upon.

Reading Meteorologies, one could ask the question how much official art owes to comics. Conefrey’s adaptation reveals that Kandinsky’s status is secure within official cultural, as he is a model to be emulated. At the same time, when read as ‘dark matter,’ the comic shows how valuation is arbitrary, how the selection of the few geniuses depends on a multitude of ‘failed’ artists, ‘Sunday painters,’ or artists who deliberately choose circuits of distribution and production outside the institutional frame. At the same time, Meteorologies makes Kandinsky part of the commons, taking him out of a museal context and the hands of the custodians of culture to offer us a counter-Kandinsky, as it were: it offers us a non-academic, more prosaic Kandinsky occasioning playful visual research. As such, the dominant narrative in art history as well as the concept of the Anthropocene and its growing academic discursive output are refashioned into ‘low theory,’ in a semi-autonomous practice. The format of the book is already indicative: originally drawn in a small, 14×9 cm Moleskine sketchbook, the pages were subsequently scanned into a slightly larger format while post-production work was done with widely available image processing software. Meteorologies is a visual theory of the cosmos in small press.

Additionally, as ‘dark matter,’ Conefrey’s comic questions the hierarchy and institutionalisation of comics as a legitimate, sometimes even prestigious cultural expression and the canon-formation that accompanies its entry into academia. Referring to the Anglophone context, Pedro Moura makes the following observation: Art Spiegelman famously complained that comics were ‘below the critical radar,’ but this has changed over the past twenty to thirty years. However, it is my contention that the ‘radar’ has excluded works that could be called ‘experimental.’ It is telling that Hillary Chute, in her article on ‘Graphic Narrative’ in The Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature, discusses many of the usual suspects—Spiegelman, Ware, Bechdel, Barry—without paying attention to more ground-breaking, category-defying work.

It is perhaps only now that we can speak of ‘dark matter’ in the world of comics. Indeed, to what degree do contemporary comics ‘masterpieces’ depend on the exclusion of ‘lesser’works, on more radical experiments sidelined precisely because they do not fit with the emerging model of what worthwhile comics are supposed to look like?

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O arco da noite branca. Diniz Conefrey.

ACME, 888 pages. Collection Ecritures (10/05/2019).

Le 5e couche: https://5c.be/5c_catalogue.html

«Ceci n’est pas un livre sur la bande dessinée abstraite. La conjonction et dans Bande dessinée et abstraction est fondamentale. Elle signale notre intention d’explorer l’entre-deux en combinant ce qui d’emblée pourrait sembler hétérogène : des bandes dessinées aux esthétiques nettement différentes, des textes usant de perspectives clairement distinctes. Le et est un moyen de rencontre et, dans ce cas, il désigne une interaction entre bande dessinée et abstraction telle que les deux en sortent mutuellement refigurés. Ce principe de montage entend ouvrir à la fois le concept d’« abstraction » et celui de « bande dessinée » en desserrant l’étau de leurs définitions canoniques qui, globalement, calquent l’abstraction sur le non-mimétique (en histoire de l’art) ou l’utilisent pour désigner un mouvement conceptuel allant du particulier à l’universel, alors que la bande dessinée est, elle, généralement perçue comme un médium texte-image de narration séquentielle. En réfractant l’abstraction à travers la bande dessinée et vice versa, une multiplicité d’autres termes se trouvent ainsi convoqués d’une telle manière que les deux termes sont infléchis par des distinctions opératoires supplémentaires. Idéalement, Bande dessinée et abstraction cherche donc à offrir un lieu de rencontre entre culture savante et populaire ; histoire de l’art et recherche en bande dessinée ; littérature, poésie, dessin et écriture ; art majeur et art mineur ; highbrow, lowbrow, nobrow, etc.»

 

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This post is part of Aarnoud Rommens essay «‘Deep’ Time in Times of Precarity: Experimental Comics as ‘Dark Matter’». In this editing we only publish the section regarding the book Meteorologies, without the notes included in the original text, and it will be presented divided in two parts.

Diniz Conefrey’s Meteorologies is an abstract comic in small format published in 2016, in limited print run, issued by the author’s minor, independent Portuguese publishing house. The comic consists of four stories or episodes, with the titles “Membrana Fóssil” (Fossil Membrane), “Pequenos Mundos” (Small Worlds), “A Matéria do Vento” (Wind Substance), and “Tornado a Casa” (Home Tornado). Though wordless, the comic uses common narrative techniques while evacuating recognisable shapes and figures. Yet, this does not mean that Meteorologies does not tell a story. Like other abstract comics, it can be read as a reflection on the medium itself, as a “formal drama” as Andrei Molotiu puts it in the introduction to the anthology Abstract Comics: “Panel rhythm, page layout, the sequential potential of colour and the panel-to-panel play of abstract shapes have all been exploited to create potent formal dramas and narrative arcs.” This certainly holds for Meteorologies. Furthermore, the comic couples the architecture of panel and page breakdown with distinctive changes in drawing styles to reflect on time and rhythm. The shifting style of the drawings, the panel sequencing, and page layout occasion a reflection on multiple, interwoven temporalities: the duration and varying cadences of reading, the speed, and intensities of drawing, as well as the relation between historical, human-scale time and deep, anti-human, geological time.

Except for the three-panel pages in the opening story “Fossil Membrane,” the individual pages establish a regular two-step beat. In fact, the facing pages are like a large white ground against which four smaller canvasses are placed, thus making the 4-step beat into the ground cadence of the comic. Seemingly ending in a ‘fade-out,’ Meteorologies invites us to read left to right, end to beginning, downside-up, transversally, back to front, and so on, as each image seems to echo the other. The sequentiality typical of alphanumerical decoding — the way one usually reads comics — contends with the modularity of serial recombination occasioned by visual motifs. Meteorologies is expressly presented as a constellation of images.

Throughout the comic there are conspicuous shifts in pacing. At specific intervals, the drawings overflow their grid-cell, expanding and contracting, slowing down and accelerating. Such moments of intensity break up the flow, but calm is eventually restored in a sea of white, the blank page. Meteorologies thus explores the intimacy of reading time whose duration is unpredictable given the resistance abstraction poses to legibility. But it is this resistance that makes the comic so interesting. Its images a kind of Rorschach test, the comic sets loose the demon of visual analogy through its associative potential. Of course, the titles push the associative logic in a certain direction: Meteorologies, “Fossil Membrane,” “Small Worlds,” “Wind Substance,” and “Home Tornado” belong to acertain register that makes the chain of associations less arbitrary. Like words in a poem, they invite the daemon of analogy, leading to infinite visual-verbal associations. Furthermore, this also ensures that the comic is not just a self-reflexive work, a style exercise. It also speaks directly to our historical moment.

The drawings conjure up scientific imagery, intimating a link with — amongst many others — geology, climate maps, microscopy, palaeontology, stratigraphy, sound waves, billowing clouds, blood circulation, seismographic records or even the million years old, inhuman beauty of mineral stones, as explored by Roger Caillois in The Writing of Stones, for instance. The comic appropriates the plethora of today’s “informational images” circulating in mass media, touching on the fields of bio-technology, medicine, astronomy, climate maps and charts indicating climate change, the weather report, and so on. As such, Meteorologies embeds itself in the history of scientific imagery, those images not studied in art history and usually not read in aesthetic terms, but which nonetheless constitute a vast quantity in overall image production. Similarly, Meteorologies inscribes itself in discussions of the Anthropocene, whose visual rhetoric depends on these kinds of images as proof to command belief. The work is radically anti-human: there are no characters, the temporal and spatial coordinates where the ‘story’ unfolds are unfathomable. If Meteorologies is a mapping, it might map on the microscopic as well as the astronomical scale.

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Um tema será sempre um ponto inicial para se poder falar. Neste caso a conversa poderá até prescindir de palavras porque o tema pode existir para além de uma história contada, sujeita à tirania da intriga, sem deixar no entanto de conter as suas dramaturgias. Uma narrativa que não conta por palavras, assumindo-se através da sua sequencialidade pelo fluxo de imagens exprimindo-se como um trecho musical, cuja interpretação depende da composição e sonoridade dos instrumentos, independente de uma narrativa vocal imprimindo-lhe um sentido ou valor sintáctico. Porém, não se trata de experimentar conceitos alheios mas antes de valorizar uma dimensão atemporal da narrativa gráfica cuja relação fisiológica estará mais próxima da imaterialidade dos sonhos, das sensações – enquanto observadas sem interferência – ou da pura contemplação dos elementos, sejam eles orgânicos ou plásticos.

Ao leitor, em diálogo, será proposta uma interpretação activa, através de estímulos visuais em que o seu envolvimento participe dos diversos graus e possibilidades de leitura – reinventando e tomando como particular aquilo que numa narrativa convencional é chamado a identificar ou a descodificar. O campo fica assim aberto, exposto no equilíbrio dos ambientes criados em sucessão, pelo autor, no sentido de tocar as percepções mais inusitadas do leitor, contornando para isso as referências literárias ou qualquer teatralidade que leve a uma identificação imediata, através de personagens ou arquitecturas humanas. Apenas um tema e a liquidez do gesto, através dos materiais, entrando pelo espaço-tempo sequencial das pranchas, fazendo emergir ressonâncias cromáticas que cabe apenas ao leitor definir, no plano dos seus conteúdos, pessoais ou formais, mais íntimos.

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O compositor e trompetista Jon Hassel é um criador visionário de um estilo de musica à qual chamou Quarto Mundo, descrevendo-o como “clássico café-colorido” – um híbrido de musica misteriosa que se desdobra entre a polaridade do antigo e do digital; compondo e improvisando o Oriente e o Ocidente. Nas duas últimas décadas os seus registos construíram um estilo único de trompete vocal (desenvolvido através de estudos com o mestre Indiano de canto Pandit Pran Nath) inspirando uma geração de colaboradores como Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Kronos Quartet e Ry Cooder.

Jon Hassel colaborou em gravações de músicos reconhecidos, bandas sonoras, teatro-dança e programas de televisão. O seu disco Fascionoma, de 1999, produzido por Ry Cooder com o mestre de flauta bansi Ronu Majumdar e o pianista de jazz Jacky Terrasson, inspirou uma nova geração de musicos europeus, especialmente trompetistas como Arve Henriksen, Erik Truffaz, Paolo Fresu e Nils Petter Molvaer; todos reconhecendo a influência de Hassel, liderando para lá do centro gravitacional de Miles Davis.

Em 2005, Jon Hassel iniciou uma tournée com a sua nova banda, os Maarifa Street, tocando para novas audiências europeias da Noruega a Madrid, tendo passado em 2013 por Lisboa, onde actuou no Teatro Maria Matos sob o tema Sketches of the Mediterranean: Celebrating Gil Evans. Em paralelo com novos concertos e gravações, mais recentemente, Hassel intensificou o seu trabalho através da publicação do livro The North and South of You. Parte desse trabalho foi realizado numa série de conversas públicas com o seu colaborador musical de à 25 anos, Brian Eno. Ambos têm inspirado profundamente todo o sentido narrativo, cromático e temático das imagens que tenho tido oportunidade de concretizar. Com especial relevo para o livro Meteorologias (Edições Quarto de Jade, 2016), criado directamente dos fluxos musicais que Jon Hassel me tem suscitado; acompanhando os gestos que tomam forma em folhas de papel debruçadas sobre a planura do estirador.

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anatomia-da-tarde

Pranchas de Diniz Conefrey.

Pequena imagem, em sequência mediana, de densidade metálica que poderá corresponder a um artefacto radiológico; sonhando sentado numa esplanada e fazendo o diagnóstico diferencial a partir dos corpos estranhos de partes moles. Ausência de sinais na rua aberta ás condutas, infligindo lesões nas raízes que gritam sem sofrer, ao longo da sua actividade suspensa. Seios cárdio e costofrénicos livres.

Silhueta cárdio-vascular dentro dos parâmetros habituais.

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