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06 December 2017

Dr Great Art Podcast Episode 25: Exhibition Comics and Iconosequentiality

The newest Dr Great Art podcast. Episode 25: Exhibition Comics and Iconosequentiality in Art
A new artistic development: Exhibition Comics and a new compositional form: Iconosequentiality.
#arthistory #comics #composition

This is the script (not a transcript, as I change elements when recording).

Dr Great Art Podcast 25


Hi this is Mark Staff Brandl, with the 25th "Dr Great Art" brief podcast. I hope you enjoy it and come back for each and every one.

Today my Artecdote is the introduction of two somewhat newer terms in art: 'exhibition (or gallery) comics' and 'iconosequentiality.'

A New Artistic Development: Exhibition Comics and A New Compositional Form: Iconosequentiality.

Artist and theorist Christian Hill has created a new term to give a clear identity to a new artistic phenomenon. The appellation is gallery comics. I have revised this to exhibition comics. The second expression, iconosequentiality, is my own creation for a compositional form within comics and fine art.

Hill, a French-American artist living in California explains gallery comics as "artworks using the formal structures of comics to create pieces that are intended to be viewed in the context of a gallery or museum or Kunsthalle or other (fine) art space" --- whether hanging on a wall (a la painting), sitting on the floor (a la sculpture) or as an installation (a la – well, you get it). "A gallery comic is not necessarily, or at least not exclusively, meant to be read left to right, top to bottom."

This idea of gallery comics is open to a variety of applications, from Hill's own clearly comic-derived, fairly narrative works; to Andrei Molotiu or Mathieu Baillif's (aka Ibn al Rabin's) abstract comics; or my own painting-installation works. Thus, these artworks are: sequential, or quasi-sequential works which both can be read like a book and comfortably viewed as a gallery/museum work. So not exclusively linear, albeit sequential.

I find the term gallery comics itself a bit too limiting, and as galleries appear to be dying anyway, I have changed the nomenclature to "exhibition comics."

Now we come to our second newly-minted word, my own iconosequentiality. This is my neologism, for the unique combination of forms of phenomenological perception in comics --- and my art.

In comics as we know them, viewers frequently perceive both the entire page as an iconic unit, similar to a traditional painting, and simultaneously follow the flow of narrative or images from panel to panel, left to right, up to down. A page is often thus concurrently whole/part and openly linear (even multi-linear with the possibility one has to glance "backwards" and "forwards" if desired, while reading).

Such a work is therefore ontologically as well as phenomenologically both iconic and sequential. Aesthetic attention becomes a wonderfully anti-purist conceptually mongrel blend of, or perhaps flickering between, a rich variety of forms of reading and viewing, most of which are under the control of the perceiver. The ultimate hyper-text/hyper-image united with the joys of an image's patient always-there, self-reliant presence.

This is not a reiteration, by the way, of Werner Hofmann's iconostase, (ee-cono-staz) in French, which would be iconostasis (Ei-con-Os-tasis; or iconoSTAsis) in English. While originally meaning the wall of icons and religious paintings separating the nave from the sanctuary in an orthodox church, this notion, as applied by Andrei Molotiu to comics, describes the phenomenon where pages of sequential storytelling occasionally "freeze" into tableaus of panels that make a rather unified whole.

This occurrence is unquestionably the source of inspiration for what I am proposing, yet is almost the mirror image of what I seek to describe. In iconostasis there is a natural progression which has been slowed down, even stopped, often almost by accident, for aesthetic appreciation. Iconosequential work is the conscious, active, creative use of the marriage of iconicity and sequentiality as a visual stratagem, a "speeding up" if you will. These ideas in practice of course overlap, however the clearest simple examples I can describe would be wonderfully composed pages of panels in Steve Ditko's Spider-Man, iconostasis, as compared to Frank King's famous Sunday strips of the children playing at a house building site, iconosequentiality. Those delightfully choreographed pages of struggle drawn by Jack Kirby seem to fall in-between.

Finally, this is not really the same as the medieval paintings wherein various "adventures" of Jesus or a saint, for example, are scattered across a painting. These works are not generally genuinely sequential, usually, more haphazard, and certainly not using any implied panels or closure, both of which I feel are necessary to be comics, and for the joy of an iconosequential work.

Noticing and using such a new compositional form is important, if not for personal utilization then at least for debate. In addition to a blanket ignorance of the complexities of vernacular and popular art forms, one of the detriments in the fine-art world of the recent past has been the slow-but-steady erosion of knowledge about and interest in painting. Such blindspots have resulted in an attendant attrition of awareness of some startling accomplishments in method and thought in those disciplines, especially painting.

Composition IS important. The agonistic struggle to achieve new types, even if they are at first seemingly rather small alterations. The history of changes in composition shows this --- transformation is crucial, not due to any supposed development of "significant form" or due to a blinkered view of some march of history, but for personal and cultural metaphoric use.

From the conceptual hierarchies of early art, to the overlapping levels of Medieval art, from the Golden Rectangle and Triangle of the Renaissance, to Mannerist routines, from the Baroque spiral-into-space, to Rococo curlicues, from Neo-Classical and Romantic asymmetry, to the shocking yet "relational" composition of early abstraction, from the all-over of Pollock, to unitary Pop and Minimalist form, from Neo-Platonic yet temporal Conceptual art systems, to the environmental envelopment of installation, to now — the tackling of the practical and philosophical problems of composition in art (especially painting) has been an impatient, vital, combative struggle.

Let me emphasize, anti-Formalistically, that this endeavor to forge new compositional tools is important not in order to simply form novel conventions, but to move on to distinctive organizational structures, new tropes useful for the embodiment of arisen desires.

And now more than ever, we need methods reaching beyond the affected Duchampianesque maniere of Postmodernism so far; one for our new critical anti-purism. Iconosequentiality could be the central compositional trope we need. The new "working space" for which Frank Stella has called.

How and Why, concretely? Such a factor determines the specific modes of attention which visual art now needs and which make such works potentially far more radically liberating in form than many traditional or even most so-called new media.

Iconosequentiality has the inherent predisposition to be tropaically democratic. It is also a step beyond Pollock's revolutionary "overall" composition, while embracing that discovery, as well as its child, installation, and not retreating to relational balancing games or Neo-Conceptual "readymade" knock-offs, both of which stipulate hierarchical metaphors I find repulsive.

Exhibition comics and iconosequentiality offer fresh arenas for individual development.

Exhibition Comics and Iconosequentiality!

Thanks for listening. Podcast number 25.

Thanks for the recent huge upsurge in listeners, by many thousands! Thanks to for recommending my podcast as a great art history one. If you enjoy my podcasts, please go to iTunes / Apple podcasts and give me 5 stars and a recommendation! It helps others find this podcast. Additionally, if you have any questions or requests for topics, please feel free to contact me with them! I'd truly enjoy covering them!

If you wish to hear more cool, exciting and hopefully inspiring stuff about art history and art, come back for more. Also I, Dr Mark Staff Brandl, artist and art historian, am available for live custom Performance-Lectures. In English und auf Deutsch.

I take viewers inside visual art and art history. Entertainingly, yet educationally and aesthetically, I analyze, underline, and discuss the reasons why a work of art is remarkable, or I go through entire eras, or indeed through the entirety of art history, or look at your desired theme through the lens of art history. The lectures often take place with painted background screens and even in my painting-installations.

Some recent ones were on the entire history of Postmodernist Art from 1979 through today, on Metaphor(m) in Art History, on Mongrel Art, and on Women in Art. Once again, I'd like to thank Chloe Orwell, Brad Elvis, and the rock band the Handcuffs for composing, performing and recording my theme song, "Shut Up and Paint," a tiny portion of which begins and ends every Dr Great Art Podcast.

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