Monday, August 17, 2009

When is a comic not a comic?

When it is a Gang by Richard Prince
This looks like a Abstract Comic to me
found here
There isn't many images of his 'gangs' on the net but what I saw struck me as being comics under another name. Or at least being able to be interpreted as comics, abstract or otherwise. I can see why they are not comics, he is interested in different ideas, they are collections or gangs of similar images. Still I find them really interesting in terms of my own abstract comics exploration.

Gang (Fashion), 1982-1984
Black and white photograph
I really want to put word balloons within the panels
found here

So what do people think? Are they Comics? Does anyone know more about him? Is there any other 'fine arts' artists who don't know they are making abstract comics?

Thanks Dick Whyte for showing me Richard Prince.


  1. Hey David - great post!! I think that the first one of these is just AMAZING. I like the second one too, but the sunsets work just blows me away. As far as I know these works are cut-ups of magazines and sort of illustrate the way in which magazines 'construct' certain images (like sunsets, for example). In a sense it points to the idea that no sunset actually looks like those images - they are a 'meme' or 'construction' based on cultural connotations.

    Anyway - great post.

  2. comics are in the mind of the creator and in the mind of the reader. the creator decides whether or not they're creating a comic. the reader decides whether or not they're reading a comic. When I read, I take into account the creator's intent, but that's just me. i don't believe in an objective comics medium. usually when i get excited over connections between "art" and "comics" the work itself leaves me very little. i'm not sure if that's because the connections take up the foreground for me, or if comics-esque art is just naturally lamer. not sure how i feel about prince but i like these images. thanks for sharing.

  3. I see things rather differently - comics is a conceptual term which can be applied to anything. By applying the term 'comic' we shift our reading strategy. Take for instance, the difference between reading a gallery space as individual paintings, or as a comic (something Draw and I have talked at length about). As a conceptual term it creates sequences from images - or, series, which I prefer.

    I don't feel it is a question of "Is this a comic or not" but rather "By calling it a comic, what new thoughts do I have about it" and "How does the concept of comics open up my thoughts to new experiences."

    That's just me though.

    All the best,
    Dick Whyte

  4. g'day Dick.

    you're making me consider the idea that any collection of things in frames can be read in this way. or just about any collection of separate objects. a pebbly beach or a handful of sand are probably too dense to attempt close readings!

    I've experimented over the years with disobedient reading tactics.

    you don't have to read a poem or a story or a comic in the standard order, as expected by the author or artist. you can deliberately jump your eyes around, in a different order. this leads to wildly different readings.

    (this is quite similar to "circuit bending" of electronic devices: deliberately rewiring a device in an unintended way, as done by some musicians & artists.)

    there's fertile research to be done by measuring readers' eye tracking while they read such things as abstract comics.

    there's the potential to explore an area similar to op art: artworks which are specifically designed to exploit understanding of what stimulates saccade movements, & in which direction.

  5. Hey Tim,

    Yeah - I agree, well stated. I love the idea of circuit bending as a practical example of this idea.

    I am very interested in the notion of 'function' and 'pragmatics' in philosophy (influenced by the great Gilles Deleuze). For Deleuze, and myself, it is all about how concepts function to produce information, rather than using them as categorical nouns. Hence, all conceptual terms can be applied to things outside their 'category' to hopefully produce new and interesting information about things - to inspire us to look at something in a new way.

    One question: what is a 'saccade movement'? It is a great term, but one I have not heard before.

    Glad to have a chat!!!


  6. Hey Dick, we're pretty much on the same page.

  7. Loving the discussion my post has generated
    Tim: I love the term 'disobedient reading tactics'

  8. Hey Richard, I also really really like the Vienese Sunsets piece as well


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