Monday, January 5, 2009

Enter Vast Dominions, Welcome to My Dream (part the third)

Page four out of five.

Yes that's what my dreamself asked the other, I can't account for how stupid it is... it sorta makes sense in dreamlogic, I think. How can you and I be here together? Perhaps this is subconscious residue from when I had watched early in life the Back to the Future movies and where if you occupied the same space with your older/future self, the universe exploded or something. I guess the child Helm took this bit of the cautionary tale very seriously to the degree that this was my first concern in my dream, when meeting my other.

But his answer, his answer. What a strange answer. Who is he keeping company to - or perhaps, supporting, urging on? What is he feeding? And where is here, exactly?

You might notice that paper cut over the name of the person whom the other is talking about. The purpose of it is twofold: The most important thing is that I woke up with a very vivid recollection of the whole dream, but I couldn't remember for the life of me the name he told me. I think it was a woman's name but that is as far as I go. I cut that bit of paper out of the page not only because I couldn't remember but because it is a valuable communicational device here. When I make art that predominantly talks to myself (usually it is music, but sometimes it is comics. And a dream comic, after all, is psychoanalysis) I attempt to shape it in such a way that it might serve me, serve my evolution as a human being further. I have figured since an earlier age that if I am going to talk to myself through art, it might as well be a worthwhile conversation. In a way I infuse my super-ego aspirations through my art, a perfect, final Helm is talking to the mundane, faulty real Helm and trying to urge him on the right path through existence. Nobody else's art is as useful to me as my own, because if I do a honest job of it I can look at it again years down the line and it's still relevant, still urges me in the right directions and it still makes me feel and remember. I can't ask more from art, much less my own.

Following this line of thinking, the creepiest thing about this comic is the super-ego/id merge going on. If I use my comics as chambers for self-betterment some times, what does it mean to meet this... thing, in my dream, and to have it tell me this unsettling declaration? I have interpreted this dream in many ways since I made the comic and I will spare you because nothing is more tedious than people explaining their own dreams. Recounting them is fine if they're interesting, explaining is another. My hope of future understanding what it meant is captured through the harrowing bottom four panels where the dreamspace Helm 'remembers' what id-machine wants him to remember. At the time this seemed more like an excuse to draw the pretty pictures, but for me nowdays that part is the most courageous of the comic. Dream of death, yet awake, that sort of thing. The carved out spot has been filled with different names in the last 2 years.

The further choices made in the comic stem from this remembrance and understanding. We will talk about that tomorrow.

Oh, yes, the second reason for the tear in the page was this: I wanted the actual artifact on show, the pieces of paper on which the comic is made, to accentuate their role as artifacts, I wanted a harsh metaphysical break from the story so the reader would be shocked out of narrative. I wanted him to be curious and I wanted him to be reminded that that is a piece of paper with lines of ink on it, what is behind of it? Why would someone do that? What is he missing and what is the reader reading missing? That sort of thing.

The funny byproduct of my doing so is that when I delivered the piece in an envelope to the Babel people, a week later a person in mid-panic called me to tell me that my art has been damaged. When I let him know that I did that and it was intentional, he let out this huge sigh of relief. In a way this was the most feedback I got for these artistic choices because as far as I can tell nobody that saw or read the comic decided to let me know how that little gimmick worked for them while I was on the festival.

Tomorrow this story ends.



Solar said...

Well I'm not sure how much I can add to your interpretation (being your dream and all) but going from my reaction to the comic, the menace and dream nature of it feels very vivid. Knowing that it was actually your dream is even better.

The fusion frames were particularly interesting, feeling like a move through pain, constriction, emptiness and a frustrated discontent. You capture emotion so well.

As for the tear, my initial reaction was that it was a digital effect, one that also made me think of Dave Mckean's work. I saw the tear as a tamper in the dream process, something that was being suppressed despite the dream state. It did not break the flow because I didn't want to leave the dream, so inventing a reason for it to be part of the experience. Knowing the tear was also meant to question my location of/in the dream didn't change the engagement with the story but it did make me more sensitive to your artistic choices. You teared the very page you used to spend time and energy on to to preserve the dream. Despite any temptation to fill in the blanks there are some things that paper just cannot voice or explain.

A meaningful page just became more meaningful.

As always looking forward to the next installment

myrto said...

I loved that comic when I saw it at the festival.
But your memory doesn't serve you well. I do remember at least a couple of people coming to you and ask you about the missing piece while I was talking to you.

And I heard quite a few comments while I was reading it there, so yeah, it had an impact.

I also thought it was brilliant, kind of a breaking the fourth wall thing in a non-convetional way and at the same time the most respectfull thing I have ever seen in a comic created for an exhibition: it can only be enjoyed best as an original piece of art on a wall. No paper or screen will ever do it justice.

Helm said...

Oh! Thank you! Thank you!

It kind of sucks that my brain decided to forget nice things about my art. I should be worried, I think.

I try to do this, the thing you say about exhibition comics being exhibition comics. The year after this I did the 4-page omni-directional spread that really cannot be printed as well. And this year my comic is simply huge (A1, single page) so it cannot really be printed either. Next year I have an even more ambitious plan, Goat willing!