Sara Witty: Illustrative Text: Transformed Words and the Language of Comics

Thumbnail image for Witty Illus.jpgIllustrative Text: Transformed Words and the Language of Comics

By Sara Witty

The art of story-telling is as old as mankind. Our cultures are defined by the stories we are told by our elders and the stories we pass on to our children. These stories serve as indoctrination into the system of our culture, allowing us from an early age to understand morality: right and wrong, virtue and vice, good and evil, from the perspective of our respective culture.

In the era of human history predating literacy, oral traditions took on the task of engendering these concepts within a given populace. Writing, which originates in pictography, allowed a further scope of indoctrination. With the evolution of writing from pictograph, which is essentially an image of a word, to abstract symbols meant to represent sounds, the speed of writing and thus distribution was increased. The creation of the alphabet allowed for a myriad of cultural advances including the ability to document history and record previously oral-only traditions.

The idea of story-telling is not restricted to literature alone, but runs the gamut of the arts. Even the vernacular remains the same; it is asked of a painting, "What is the artist trying to say?", "what is the narrative in this painting?", and "what does it mean?" Both writing and imagery function under the umbrella of language, employing a variety of signs and symbols to express the narrative that they wish to relay.

However, regardless of their similar forms of communication and the fact that both rely upon a framework of language, both writing and imagery utilize completely different and seemingly opposed methods of conveyance. Simon Morely describes the differences between the two: writing tells, imagery shows; writing presents, imagery represents; writing creates time, imagery creates space. Even our perceptions of the two widely differ. Reading is a left-brain specific action, employing our use of logic and analysis. Seeing is a right-brain specific action, utilizing our imaginations and our ability to free-associate. Although the use of sign is constant, the sign that is a letter, which makes up a word such as 'mountain' is read, where as the sign that is an image of a mountain is perceived.

(more...Witty IllustrativeText.pdf)

Sara Witty is an artist and art historian pursuing her PhD at the University of Madison Wisconsin. Her primary research area is the architecture of 19th century mental hospitals and an extensively study of comics, and archetypal imagery. "While some of my artwork is derived from my primary research field, ALL of it is rooted in oneiromancy, alchemy, gnostic mythology, hermetic mysticism, and magic."

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This page contains a single entry by GaryC published on March 2, 2010 10:24 PM.

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