Proscenium and soloist (top photo)
I have to admit right up-front, that despite my profound adoration of fine-art and it’s many techniques and curiosities, I will probably be forever corrupted by my youthful (and enduring) bias toward comic-art.
Just as I often do a real-time interpolation when I’m listening to spiritual wisdom which has an overly-dogmatic component interfering with it’s own sense (so that I can still respectfully find and appreciate the value, rather than wasting energy disputing the arbitrary), I also translate all sorts of specialized language from fine-art into terms that to me, are more familiar to my silly imagination. Seeking functional dialect.
A ‘plane’ – while very appealing indeed in the aero and geometrical senses, will always read to me artistically as a single comic frame or panel. (Similarly, ‘value’ instantly suggests whole real-numbers, whereas ‘luminance’ from my technician days, specifies brightness-levels specifically, as distinct from all other meanings). Not insisting here, just me. ;o)
Anyhow, when thinking about comic frames, you’re thinking first about the meaning of the shape of frame you’ve chosen (very much a cinematographic ‘shot’ question), and then the way the contents of the frame will relate to it – painting also works this relationship of course, but there is more often a super-specific functional action-purpose in mind, for an individual comic panel.
It is also a comic essential to think about directing the eye – what story must the reader clearly get?
The top photo is an example of an incredibly seductive framing effect, pared right down to it’s essentials – nothing like an archway, a doorway, a passage, or even, as here, a naturally-formed proscenium arch, to feature the plucky young soloist-tree, and it’s rusty rescue-ladder and life-preserver sidekick, in context.
We instinctinely love it, when photos we frame this way come out – but the effect is also carefully used by painters – to draw us right in – giving us a safe familiar boundary to press our noses against, seeking more within. Once upon a time…
Even though there’s no significant change in the angle this time, they really do look very different standing alone, don’t they?
As the only features against all that negative space, they become more aggressive – zooming-out free of their context, demanding more attention to specifics of attitude, gesture, expression – the character dominates.
We don’t need to lean-in anymore – we’re listening directly – perhaps to some unwieldily exposition.
Of course a panel like this might be one of a whole series – showing the passage of time by the movement of it’s shadow, or perhaps the before-and-after of a crime, with the addition of a weapon or blood-spatter.
It might also suggest the character is having a reflective moment. In any case, the visual pause in the midst of high activity can allow for all sorts of fine aesthetic insights from cartoonists (Ben Katchor is a stand-out master of this) just as painters find infinite fascination sometimes, in texture-rich details that are usually overlooked.
Beauty in the everyday, and the moment itself.
And just how many years did it take for that crack to form in that massive concrete structure, anyhow? Or did it happen in seconds, right in the middle of a titanic super-fight that has just now finished? You never know – some of these folks can be awfully rambunctious.
I like this one because it breaks the frame on every edge, and while it’s beautiful and golden and the light is playful and wonderfully mixed-up, we still feel that sense of action. It’s too big and wild to be contained!
In a way, every tree deserves to be photographed breaking every edge of the panel – though it’s also nice to try to capture their full extent. They are overwhelmingly big and important beings that we dumb humans remain woefully-imperfectly attuned-to, after all – especially when we consider our level of dependance on them, for the very air we breathe.
Awesome and dynamic therefore, strikes me as the correct mode (the beautiful part is their own insistence).
Mind you, I am just an idiot. What do I know? Mister-curious, at absolute best. ;o)