Grafik Dynamo (Catalog)

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

Catalog published by The Prairie Art Gallery, with funding from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, featuring a printed sample of panels from the net art work Grafik Dynamo and a critical essay, "Graphic Sublime: On the Art and Designwriting of Kate Armstrong and Michael Tippett,"  by the literary and media-arts scholar Joseph Tabbi. Tabbi argues that Grafik Dynamo, like Scott McCloud's book Understanding Comics, enables readers to recognize how perception works and why a reduction of sense experience is necessary for the development reflection, communication, meaning, and narrative.

Pull Quotes: 

A condition of narrative in the new media ecology is that nothing, no alteration to the social or political order, can be allowed to happen, ever. That doesn't mean that things don't change, but when change is 'endless', when dynamism and innovation are requirements rather than exceptions, the arts of story-telling suffer.

There is always 'more' to an image than what we see, and there are also always more images, whose happenstance positioning with each other and with Armstrong's sentences generate meanings potentially no less significant, and much more patterned and expansive, than (what I can find on) my own.

Coherence cannot be avoided, even if we try. The 'sense' of a narrative, the 'impression' of history in the making, persists in what we see.

A willing suspension of disbelief? Try getting one of the kids from the Internet and comuter gaming generation to do that.

The 'funnies,' purportedly written for children, are like more recent computer games and pupular entertainment generally: they are ways that people learn to live with technological violence.

The ever open, ever ambiguous literary representation can hold an audience, it seems, only so long as the world-system itself remains incomplete, and only so long as a sense of wonder exists in readers. Once a world-system takes hold in reality (as in Pinochet's Chile), literary activity largely ceases.

The comic, it would seem, is the only medium left with a mandate for presenting society whole, in broad canvas.

The creators seem to have realized (and their curators recognize) that stability, at the level of the medium, actually creates more opportunities than so called 'reader-interaction' for freedom in reception.

Now that technologies facilitate the viewing of atrocities, deaths, events that occur at every instant worldwide, the call of narrative is no longer to locate such events in our own lives. What is required, rather, is a space where events can at once be received and held at a distance.

No other instrument performs so well, as the networked computer, the removal from the world of sequence, consequence, argument, and affect.

Even as the images depict what cannot have happened (not to us), we are made to sense through combinations of image and text, those places where language has reached its limit.

McCloud's work is not criticism, and Armstrong/Tippett's work, as I have argued, is not narrative. But these works have the virtue of letting us know, sensually, what it is we're missing - in an era that systematically denies the development of critical and narrative experience.

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Eric Dean Rasmussen