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  • Writer's pictureJack Chen

Animation: Response to “Understanding Comics”

“Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art” by Scott McCloud explores various aspects of not only the medium of comics, but some principles which applies to art as a whole. The book was very inspiring to read and below are a few concepts which stood out to me among others.

Dividing art into a triangular plane between realistic, abstract, and signifying/icon is a great way of analyzing artworks of all types. In the book, McCloud uses this model to statistically analyze the types of drawings included in various comics books and what each style choice says about the effects of the comic and motivation of the artist. This method of categorization is not only great for understanding art that is already made, but also a great way to think about where one might decide to explore in future projects.

McCloud talks about closure in comic as the magic which happens between the “gutter” of the frames, where our minds fills in the blank to create the world and events. As mentioned in class, this is another concept which applies to almost all types of artworks from the cutting of videos in films to writing a conceptual narrative which gives a magical touch to a physical computing project which otherwise contains only lines of code and mechanical components. As humans, we always experience the world through narratives we construct in our minds, so creating closure in a project is an essential component that affects the way others experience our work.

One of my favorite explorations done by McCloud in his book is that of the practical purpose of Art to humanity’s survival. Despite its seeming lack of direct practical uses, McCloud shows us how humanity has always practiced art since our earliest days of existence, and such practices eventually leads to useful new discoveries and is essential to our mental stability. I find myself agreeing strongly with McCloud. Spending my undergrad in an art school, I have always appreciated the value of art to humanity and is often disappointed at the way our contemporary industrial capitalist society focuses only on efficiency and profit without allocating enough resources for the development and exploration in fields which are considered less efficient and practical such as art. We are beginning to see the harm of such mentality taking place today as the mental health of citizens and the condition of Earth’s natural environment are deteriorating faster than conglomerates can make profit from exploited cheap labor.

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