Friday, February 22, 2013

Comics as a Social Art

I Once Saw A Girl
© Shenn

Imagine what it would be like if you could actually depict everything you saw, heard, or thought of in a comic. What do I mean by that? Think of your experience with a particular comic, perhaps one you enjoyed as a kid or came across and appreciated as an adult. Think of that moment when something in the composition caught your eye and pulled you in. What would it be like to experience the world from the perspective of comics in that way? 

Windy Day
© Shenn

It would be absolutely delightful. Engaging....and fun! The selectivity of the senses is, in part, playfully conditioned by childhood. Everybody's imagination perks up at the site of a comic. Everybody's understanding of incongruent or ironic concepts are heightened by the innocence portrayed in comics. But our senses are not just conditioned by our childhood, they are also shaped by our social interactions and the deeper significance we, as adults, apply to the world. 

Can you just "tune" out comics, pretend that they're nothing more than child's play? I can, if I try, but ever since I began exploring the philosophy of humor, these aesthetic wonders have emerged time and time again teasing my intellectual curiosity. 

© Shenn

Comics are shiny, colorful, ever-changing and engaging things, they fill our minds with images designed by intelligent and highly trained people, grabbing our attention with their simplicity. Yet, most of us have learned to regard this aesthetic artform as nothing other than child's play, ignoring them in adulthood, and in some cases, entirely - even when they're staring us right in the face. 

My Brother
© Shenn

In what the 17-year old artist, Shenn, continually describes as a "work in progress", is what appears to be the embers of fine art. Comics that aesthetically distinguish themselves from the other comics in the practical philosophical function they serve, namely in their subtly expressed deeper significance. 

© Shenn

To explain this - and to extend this into our world, today - consider what you see when you look into this character's eyes. In what situations do we imagine ourselves when we contemplate his gaze? Is he contemplating the beauty of a sunny day or merely ruminating on what his next course of action should be? 

Edward Elric
© Shenn

We encounter ourselves in comics. We see ourselves in the simplicity of their lines, as characters and observers, both. We see the other side of us, the childhood innocence that stays with us throughout our many transitions in adult understanding; despite the complexities of adult thought, we continue to think of ourselves as our favorite comic characters. It only stands to reason that "comics" as an aesthetic artform are another way that our encounters are conditioned, that is, another way that both limits how we find ourselves, and which, at the same time, allows us to find ourselves. 

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