donderdag 17 december 2015

Some ideas on Abstract Comics

Abstract vs Animistic

The difference between abstract comics and non-abstract comics depends a great deal on how you define abstract.
Are abstract objects abstracted versions of real objects or are they more like inanimate geometrical or mathematical objects?
Marc Terstroet 1983

Both examples  above can be labelled as abstract. However its hard not to see the abstract shapes on the left as ‘alive’, or even as two characters wearing a circle and a triangle costume. Whereas in the panel on the right the circle and triangle  are two basic geometrical shapes on a black background.

As a medium of communication, the image on the left is ‘hot’ , you know its a comic because the comic context is given by the motionlines. The image on the right is ‘cold’, it requires deliberate effort of the viewer to see it as a comic.
Both images could be seen a part of a sequence. In that case the motion lines on the left image constitute the context for the right image. Both images become animate as the image on the right is suddenly something like a night shot of the left image
In other words; if you are told beforehand  you’re going to read a comic you automatically switch to animate view.

If all abstract comics are more or less like the above image on the left, then it seems to me that  they are not fundamentally different from non-abstract comics.
Can the image on the above right, on its own be a comic, and can it even be funny?



 Higher beings ordain: 
Paint the upper right corner black! 
(Sigmar Polke 1968)

 The original of Sigmar Polke above on the right is funny because of the way it collides the concept of  the mystically inspired artist with the artist as rational  intellectual.
In this case, just like the abstract image on the left without the tekst, the right panel and the black triangle are inanimate, or 'pure' abstract. The added text only changes our perception of how  the triangle got there.
Text can be useful to maintain inanimate abstraction and humour.

3.Speech Balloons



Basically any speech balloon is an indication you are looking at a comic, implies some speech organ and and turns a triangle into a guy in a triangle suit.


4.The Abstract Sequence: Animate vs Inanimate motion


When we see a film of colliding billiard balls, we don’t think there is a little guy running inside the ball. However, when it deviates from its natural path our perception of it is quite different.
This is shown in the socalled Heider Simmel experiment.

The experiment showed how abstract geometrical shapes that move, not because of some physical impact, are perceived as being ‘alive’, are given specific traits and even seen as actors in an emotional narrative.
The experiment suggests that if a comic sequence and its abstract objects follow a natural cause we dont see a narrative.If its path deviates we see animate characters.
As a consequence, the sequence is no longer purely abstract. Again, the abstract comic will not be fundamentally different from any other non-abstract comic.

5.Humorous combinations of transitions:


In ‘Understanding Comics’ Scott McCloud identifies 6 types of transitions between panels

•Moment to Moment:
•Action to Action:
•Subject to Subject:
•Scene to Scene:
•Aspect to Aspect:

If objects are perceived as abstract only if they are moved by physical impact, then the only thing that may move sequentially in a narrative way without the comic becoming animate is the way abstract objects are captured in the panel.
Suppose a panel is like a camera,  then creating abstract comics is like moving the camera in funny or interesting ways.

The object remains abstract, non-animistic.
And even if there is no text, there is a possible humorous narrative behind the cause of the shakey camera.

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