Category: Comic

Suit of Lights? The Berkshire Hank Williams…

marshfield mummers

So Shaun what are you actually doing now……

well..that’s an interesting question.

I currently have two PhD proposals submitted to Nottingham University and Loughborough. They both the same and the gist of the proposal is this.

I want to link two separate areas of art research together. Storicodes is an app developed at Nottingham University MRL ( Mixed Reality lab) which is an artier version of the rather banal QR code. It has been successfully deployed through large scale illustration ( NWS November 2015).

At the same time I became aware of the developments in digital embroidery especially through the work at NTU in textile and product design. I was assured by Dr. Sarah Kettley that there is no theoretical problem in creating lighting embroidery which could then be scanned by the storicode app.

Which Baldrick is where my cunning plan unfolds…

As a dead country star ( yes there a lot around) and folk performer/reviewer I aware that audiences falling and venues closing so would like to help counter that trend. An app that connected both consumers and artists and enabled connections would be great. So here we have a variation on the ‘added content’ idea. By wearing an embroidered suit whilst performing it may be possible for an audience member to focus the scanning app on a part of the design which lit up in sequence as songs played. This would trigger an illustration appearing (songbook cover/graphic novel page) as I performed. The audience member would only access this information at the performance. Thus re-establishing a live venue experience with added value. I keen on the idea of near-field content which limited and not ubiquitous. I have a plan for a museum tree that beams out archives..but that literally another story…

Finally and still in early stages of development I have friends who work with severe autism and it may be possible to develop child-friendly suits that enable communication. Music and rhythm can be the keys to unlocking those previously ‘blocked’ neural spaces. If I can get funding then that a route I keen to go down.

PhD funding is extremely competitive at present and I still hopeful. If I fail ( update July 2016..I did fail but only because I not keen on being a corporate intern which sad ). Then I may look at alternative ways of creating these projects such as Near Now at Broadway or ACE funding or even Crowdsourcing. Who knows.

But that is where I be at right now.

Here some artist’s suits for information….and of course Elvis Costello wrote a song called ‘Suit of Lights’

Twin Peaks? New Research Track and merging themes?

 

welcome

 

This just to clarify…my research has previously had two sides to the story…and no bodies wrapped in plastic ..yet…

 

DRAWING: Comics and Graphic Novels Research

Firstly an M.A. in Fine Art exclusively concerned with drawing and presenting analysis of art research methodology in sequential drawings.

This and associated papers/ outcomes contained herein: http://www.shaunbelcher.com/research/

This developed out of a scurious cartoon art dog called Moogee’s adventures in the Fine Art World: http://www.shaunbelcher.com/moogee

UPDATE June 2016: This work is now coming to fruition as Freelance Design and comic illustration under

FLYIN SHOES ARTS U.K.
https://flyinshoesarts.wordpress.com

MOOGEE THE DOODLE DOG
http://www.shaunbelcher.com/moogee/

 

HISTORY OF ART AND TECHNOLOGY

Following an aborted M.A. in Multimedia which changed into a Fine Art M.A. in drawing I became interested in the notion of the rise of Victorian Technology and Illustration as a early distribution network or web. Specifically I began looking at early photography and film and its influences and cross-currents with fine art especially illustration.

This led to the work here and papers linked below (one purely visual until I finally write up).

This led to a Leverhulme PhD Funding Submission through BIAD in 2014 which was a group submission and unsuccessful around idea of Railway as a instigator of artistic practice.

I recently investigated these possible ideas again. It may be possible to link two areas together via a graphic narrative format.

https://www.scribd.com/collections/4262615/Art-Research-Illustration-and-Media

I have also recently used a poetry narrative to describe a Photographer’s Equipment and its technological changes for RIBA

EDWIN SMITH at RIBA

I have just discovered David Trotter’s work ‘Literature in the First Media Age’ which seems perfect match for what I trying to do.

http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674073159

(UPDATE June 2016: This route may come to fruition in an Art History/Literature/Music PhD as that the area I now consider myself to be operating in and which best match for interests)

 

Extended Fictions – Going with the FLOW or not?

haunted house

Read more about this App here : Microsoft Apps

It has been a career-defining week so until the dust truly settles I not making any comments about my withdrawal from the Creative Writing M.A. other than these reflections on what I think is happening to fiction these days in general.

It was only after withdrawal that I started to consider what it was that I had wanted from the course rather than what the course offered me. There was no problem with what delivered it simply wasn’t what I wanted..they sold bananas I actually wanted peaches.

The problem is that the field of ‘Extended Fiction’ which I am primarily interested in is at present almost homeless within academia in general. The NTU course is not the only one focusing on the principles of traditional fiction writing, screen-writing and poetry in categories that have been fixed since the notion of Creative Writing was accepted into the academy. Indeed one could even go back further to the battles to get English Literature accepted into the academy.

This constant seeking for ‘validation’ alongside the sciences means that, like fine art, a lot of conservatism has crept in alongside the wish to be taken seriously. This conservatism is especially prevalent now with REF status measurement . Creative courses move towards ‘acceptability’ through research worthiness but in my opinion it is stifling creative content and not just in writing.

The area of apps and fiction (see above) which mixing illustration and stories, online and offline graphic novels, voice-only novels ( a recent development..basically a recording of writer reading but no text sold) photo-embedded literature, visual-poetry, comics etc etc has hardly rippled the surface of ‘creative writing’ that country-wide has been modeled on a Stateside Iowa Workshop model first introduced in the 1960’s. A model that now 50 years old. We wouldn’t drive a car built in 1960 now so why drive a model of education that similarly dated?

There are various reasons for this. A lot of the embedded wisdom in that model is very good. Good writing is good writing and basic principles have not changed. What has changed is everything around that model. The stand-alone paper novel may not be as Will Self so clearly put it ‘as dead as the Dodo’ but it is it certainly one platform amongst many now. Self is one author trying to breathe life into its  form in an arena where what we call literature or ‘the book’ may be fragmenting into a variety of platforms. The internet has changed the delivery, consumption and influence of the literature we read as comprehensively as the first paperbacks sold at W.H.Smiths (which trains then distributed around the country like a steel internet) changed our notions of literacy, communication and most importantly fueled universal suffrage and democracy.

To paraphrase Yeats

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold……

But the centre here is the reader. The reader is now the centre of endless opportunities be it social media, hypertext, embedded photos. Everything has become an endless ‘narrative’ which we making from our own lives via social media. To disrupt this ‘FLOW’ of trans-mediale imagery and text we have to purposefully disengage via Kindle or paper (the original kindle is a electronic metaphor for paper anyway) and place ourselves outside the ‘FLOW’.

If one turns one’s attention away from standard literature field to what I tentatively calling ‘Extended Fictions’ a whole new landscape emerges. This is a landscape that the millennial born digital natives are swimming in effortlessly. It is both image and text like graphic novels but maybe even more fluid and permeable once online. The graphic novel has its ‘paper’ retro adherents who regard online as a threat to its unique paper object-ness.  They see its object-hood as the defining characteristic of  paper-bound writing and in many ways this ‘thing-ness’ corresponds with contemporary crisis in the fine arts over authenticity and object value.

I spent much of last year investigating Charles Dickens and his illustrators as a key moment in the development of the ‘serialised’ novel. Indeed one could say he invented the modern magazine serialisation and therefore modern cinema and TV.
It is no coincidence that the first efforts to create working free-flowing multi-directional Apps from literature have used him as a model. The image above is a illustrated short story by Dickens from Microsoft. The image below is from the ‘Dark London’ app developed by the Museum of London and again drawing on both location tracking and multiple entry points to the narrative..all is FLOW..not uni-directional narration.

Unless modern creative-writing courses take on board THE FLOW we will have a version of writing presented as all writing just as a version of fine art currently dominates fine art. This is my opinion. It is not an opinion many in my institution would agree with that is for sure.

For me to not go with THE FLOW is to cease to go forward it as simple as that.

The future is here now and it looks very much like the past to me …we do not want to miss the train do we? Would Dickens be working on paper or the web?

london

Dickens Dark London App

The Paris Conference Paper on Dickens Illustration

Because of the all change in career break I did not have time to turn this lecture into a full paper sadly….maybe in future. Many thanks to the organisers of the Illustration and Narrative Construction Conference it was excellent.

 

Johnny Newcome Part 2.

The same sequence I had earlier discovered via Saville’s excellent caricature website has been discovered by Doug Wheeler at Superitch too. Here he concentrates on the racist message being conveyed but again it the sequential panelling I focussed on.

Original article here: http://superitch.com/?p=43407

I have changed contrast on images in an attempt to clarify the text. I also have larger jpeg versions now so can work out the narrative.

The narrative is sequential in that Johnny takes part in a logical progression of activities culminating in his marriage to the plantation owner’s beautiful daughter after a variety of idle and lascivious ‘adventures’. There are no linking actions in a filmic sense but then as this 1812 the whole idea of photography and cinema did not exist the nearest would have been sequences in magic lanterns which tended to be (like Hogarth) separate entities. What significant here is the panels being displayed as a sequence in one frame. This something I will look at in more detail  in the paper. If one compares to popular broadside imagery and text then it is a step forward. It is also close to Hone and Cruikshank’s ‘The Queen’s Matrimonial Ladder’ toy of 1819 for a full pamphlet of 1820 (Source: p.70 James, L. (1976) English Popular Literature 1819-1851. (see below) for more detail see The Print Shop Window Archive including original photos of Hone’s ‘toy’.
here : http://printshopwindow.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/george-cruikshank-william-hone-queens.html

 

JohnnyNewcome1812WilliamElmesPlate1small JohnnyNewcome1812WilliamElmesPlate2small

 

ladder1

1830: the Swing Riots..turbulent times and Seymour.

LookingGlass18301201pg1

 

Source: http://superitch.com/images/2012/10/LookingGlass18301201pg1.jpg

from

http://superitch.com/?p=33870

Accessed: 04.02.2014.

I am indebted to Superitch which has proved to be an excellent stateside resource which challenges most of the prevailing Stateside views of comic history.

These sequential panels by Seymour are especially interesting in relation to the pre Dickens/Victoria mid 1830s. In it Seymour depicts the unrest which affected London and the wider country,  including here in  Nottingham in 1831 post Reform Bill.

Again the question of a ‘continuing character’ seems not to apply and the titling does not seem to cohere into a complete sequential narrative but it damn close …As for Seymour’s radical politics they seem proven here and it interesting that just six years later the ‘radical’ Seymour was dead and the ‘Liberal’ Dickens was set to thrive as the conscience of a rising literate bourgeoisie fueled by cheap labour, imports and new technology…..sound familiar? Daumier would have understood completely…

This is an undercurrent I shall return to.

LookingGlass18301201pg4

 

Panel 2 captions are fascinating in light of what about to occur in terms of expansion of the railway….the means whereby Dickens and Pickwick papers began its technological dissemination and promoted his ‘fame.

Large central figure, speaking to his dog: “What the Devil is the matter with us? Can you tell Trusty?”

Dog: “No my good Master John. You like myself Seem to be getting worse and worse. I have a chance of a chance should the Steam Carriage come into vogue, But I see nothing for you except you can descend to live as I do.”

 

Searching for the sequential…..

One of the things that fascinating me at this point is where and when the notion of a ‘comic strip. i.e. a discernible sequential narrative arose. Reading classic comic histories there are a lot of different opinions but none seem to go back beyond Punch and as in Roger Sabin, Scott McCloud and the more recent book by Jared Gardner there different views depending on position i.e. USA, Europe etc. There also the arguments over when the ‘central CONTINUING character’ present’ a quote from Sabin. He cites Ally Sloper 1884 however I have already found some work by both Seymour ( The Heiress 1830) and William Elmes (published 1812) that seem to challenge these dates and notions. The Elmes pictured below has a identifiable protagonist even if the material is highly racist in ‘The Adventures of Johnny Newcome’. There are also several freestanding ‘panels’ attributed to him that may or may not have been cut from a larger canvas or may have been intended like Rakes Progress to be ‘one-offs’ in sequence. I am still looking for the answers to that.

LARGEELMES Source: http://www.art.co.uk/products/p22111912598-sa-i7618904/william-elmes-the-adventures-of-johnny-newcome-published-1812.htm?

McCloud states on page 17 of ‘Understanding Comics’ (1993) an otherwise excellent drawn examination of the field that Topffer ..

‘featured the first interdependent combination of words and pictures seen in Europe’.

I would say that wrong in light of image above although exactly what he means by interdependent could be argued if the commentary is verbalised speech as opposed to ‘titling’. Again an area to be further explored.

Our ever valid and controversial wikipedia commentator states…in line with most commentaries that Topffer should be considered the originator but as in the illustration below I see no difference between this and Elmes….

Was it possible that continental practitioners were influenced by post Hogarth sequences is part of my investigation. I have also found some curious confluences between French and British images…..

The Swiss teacher, author and caricature artist Rodolphe Töpffer (Geneva, 1799–1846) is considered the father of the modern comic strips. His illustrated stories such as Histoire de M. Vieux Bois (1827), first published in the USA in 1842 as The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck or Histoire de Monsieur Jabot (1831), inspired subsequent generations of German and American comic artists. In 1865, the Germanpainter, author and caricaturist Wilhelm Busch created the strip Max and Moritz, about two trouble-making boys, which had a direct influence on the American comic strip. Max and Moritz was a series of severely moralistic tales in the vein of German children’s stories such as Struwwelpeter (“Shockheaded Peter”); in one, the boys, after perpetrating some mischief, are tossed into a sack of grain, run through a mill and consumed by a flock of geese. Max and Moritz provided an inspiration for German immigrant Rudolph Dirks, who created the Katzenjammer Kids in 1897. Familiar comic-strip iconography such as stars for pain, sawing logs for snoring, speech balloons, and thought balloons originated in Dirks’ strip.[5]

Source: Wikipedia Accessed 25.02.2014 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comic_strip

800px-Toepffer_Cryptogame_13

 

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Toepffer_Cryptogame_13.png

Literature search

literature

 

here it is ..at least so far…all the material I have been collecting over the last six months in analogue format 🙂

 

Collected Dickens

dickens2

This is the prompt for the whole Robert Seymour paper. Purchased in my hometown of Didcot many years ago from a second-hand shop it is a complete Caxton edition of Dickens novels,  It is from this that I took the idea of looking more closely at the Dickens illustrators in relation to sequential narrative.

dickens1

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