Friday, 10 September 2010

Dialogues with Drawing: Hypercomics

A hypercomic aims to tell a story by transforming the linear narrative of the comic book into multiple storylines, placed on a wall or computer screen. The objective is to allow the reader differing viewpoints on characters, events and places. This concept of storytelling is what informs the exhibition Hypercomics: The Shapes of Comics to Come at Pump House Gallery, curated by Paul Gravett.

The comics featured still use drawing as a key tool in telling the story, but what has essentially changed is the way in which the storyline unfolds. It appears that by using installation as a tool to present a comic allows the reader to consider infinite possibilities in a narrative.

One key example of this is Dave McKean’s installation The Rut (2010). The storyline is difficult to follow at first, until the reader realises that the tale is being told from three different viewpoints. Drawings are situated around the room, containing relived memories of a traumatic childhood event. This explosion of memories is juxtaposed with the photograph shown above. Such a curatorial decision allows the reader to glean greater meaning from a narrative that would otherwise be trapped on a page. Here, McKean’s hypercomic is suggesting that the comic book is in fact a dissection of the mind.

On the ground floor Warren Pleece’s The Montague (2010) brings this state of multiplicity into the digital realm. The viewer is invited to select a short animation detailing the character profile of the inhabitants of a block of flats. On the wall are comic strips depicting a short event in their life. It becomes apparent here that the drawn medium is comfortable placed in the digital world, where interactivity and choice are key to reader engagement. This understanding is what allows the exhibition to give us a fleeting insight into the new and ever changing art of digital storytelling.

Hypercomics: The Shapes of Comics to Come is on at Pump House Gallery until Sept 26.

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