I just sent an abstract to Vasko Demou, the organizer of the Bristol Theoretical Archaeology Group Meeting (TAG) session, Paper pasts: archaeologies of comics, comic-strips, cartoons, and graphic novels. I’ve wanted to write up my use of fumetti for outreach for a while, and this was the perfect chance, since I was going to TAG anyway to help organize the film festival. Here is the abstract:
Fumetti, Sequential Art, and Visual Narrative Building in Archaeology
Fumetti, or photo comics, are a powerful, but little used tool for narrative building in archaeology. Easily created by a variety of image-manipulation software and distributed online, these examples of archaeological practice as sequential art find a wide audience who are unreachable in more traditional print or image formats. The combination of images and text as a narrative makes nuanced archaeological interpretation easy to understand and pushes the archaeologist to take better, more descriptive photographs while conducting research. In this paper I will describe the history and utility of creating fumetti, their distinct advantages as an interpretive and educational tool, and why comics matter for archaeology in the digital age.
It’s a very TAG-a-rific year for me, as I’m also the graduate student representative for TAG 2011 at Berkeley. Expect more about that soon!
I took these photos from the Catalhoyuk Photo Database, built and maintained by Jason Quinlan, and remixed them with Comic Life to illustrate a point in a small project that I will finish soon, hopefully.
Meanwhile: Is art on the internet considered public by its very nature? Is all art public? Has it always been?
This is the semester that refuses to die! Die, semester, die!
Anyway, so I made (even more) comics about how to make mudbrick and posted them to flickr. I don’t really like the front page much (it’s rehash), so here’s the third page:
I think I’ll use this as the example comic for my short SHA article that I need to pound out.
Anyway, I also got a blog set up (with hosting from the ever helpful Noah) for the Presidio Archaeology Lab, so we’ll see if they keep using it after my research position ends there:
I really like how the map header turned out. When I tweaked the scan to make it look “older” some of the pencil marks popped out, and showed how the map had been drawn a bit differently at first–unintentional photoshop archaeology.
On a slightly different note, Katy invited us to go with her to an art opening at the Exploratorium featuring a mind-reading robot. We got there somewhat late, so we didn’t have time to try out the thing or to look around, but I absolutely have to go back. We stopped by Lucky 13, then we made our way over to the Flaming Lotus Girls benefit, where I got a few good pictures of the Orb Swarm. The Orb Swarm are remote-controlled balls that have lights inside of them, but they’re counterbalanced in such a way that makes them very hard to control, so they tended to go crashing into things. Perfect!
Obviously I draw a lot of inspiration from A Softer World with the photo-comics, though I can hardly claim their gravitas. Another of my favorite blogs, Visualizing Neolithic, does the same sort of photo juxtapositions, but without captions. Using images (or in this case comics) to showcase interpretations in archaeology is often done without too much introspection, and my dissertation necessarily involves a critique of previous practice, so I’ve turned to a lot of Visual Studies literature to work through some basic theory. If photographs are melancholy objects, then putting them together into a narrative at least gives them a bit of company, and, more enticingly, the white space between, the “gutter” where all the action really happens, is a fabulous liminal space.
Bonus, my favorite A Softer World strip:
(Poems, prose, and comics that remind me of archaeology, pt 6)
More Presidio education comics posted. I’m not sure about the last one–should I just leave the thought balloons blank?
Click to enlarge the prints; there are four in all.
PS: I did not actually participate in this dig and am slightly baffled by the methodology, but that’s neither here nor there.