Concept: Randomized Panels.
April 7th, 2009 by Lex

Cross-posted from the abstract comics blog. This project sits on SokolinDesign and was a first exploration of randomization and the sequential art form.

There are different ways to connect visual content to the “comic” medium: visual content, form, narrative. I am still trying to figure out how many recognizable ties we can remove and still hold on to a legitimate story, or how foreign we can make our visual imagery and still connect with the reader, or how differently we can structure the page and still have continuous flow.

To that end, randomization provides a good proxy test for releasing control of specific elements. In the project below, I take one cohesive piece and pull it apart into panels, and then randomize their location. Additionally, there is a bit of interactivity with the work.

This the digital version: an early test of concept that eventually brought me to the piece in the anthology.

Thoughts for New Project-2.
January 30th, 2009 by Lex

Here is another TED speaker that is worth paying attention to: Scott McCloud. McCloud is famous for his early work deconstructing comics, and as such deconstructing image, narrative, abstraction, connections and meaning. If one wants to build a new type of interaction or story, this video is a great place to start. The meatiest part of the presentation starts around 10 minutes in.

Wooster posted the video as a piece of art. But it is more than that–it is a challenge to remove the traditional thinking about narrative. Art does not have to be static (painting) or uni-directional (movie, song, music). It can be multi-directional, multi-media, and fully engaged with the user. It can be customized to the user.

Customization is incredibly powerful. For example, Pandora has been able to completely reinvent the radio industry by customizing the listener’s experience based on her input. And it takes so little to drive that customization: a computer’s IP address is enough. So, what is the next step?

The goal of the new project will be to: (1) draw on user input or characteristics to drive randomization, (2) utilize a library of multimedia elements, including video, photography and sound, (3) create a specific and fully customized artistic experience with unique narratives.

Thoughts for New Project-1.
January 27th, 2009 by Lex

A thought experiment, and the beginning of a roadmap for a new project (tentatively “Dream:Engage”).

One aspect of new media is the ability of the artist to relinquish control. “Random” or “living” pieces can be produced by introducing (literally programming) an element of self generation, or re-generation, into the code of a piece. The creative process is then not just limited to symptom (the visual work), but starts in the DNA of a subject (conceptual definition). All sorts of unexpected twists and turns are born through randomization. See below for a stark example at the Victoria & Albert museum.

A more familiar randomized world would of course be the ITunes Visualizer (found here).

Once the definitions and boundaries are set, this approach becomes all about the input that triggers programmed DNA to spread its feathers. Music, and audio in general, is one attractive way in. Another is direct user participation. Make the consumer of the media engage with her consumption. Pull her in. This line of thought brings us to the use of narrative. A rudimentary exploration of this can be found in the Panels project, where a user’s click to refresh the page brings in new elements and storylines. A logical direction is to
“float”, unfix, abstract not just the direction of the story, but the story-telling elements. Mix media in the delivery of the message. Pull continuity apart, and branch out from concrete realistic text into visual chaos.

Next up, Scott McCloud on experimental narrative and our take on how to use the idea …

4-Panel Story: End.
June 11th, 2008 by Lex

The arc concludes.

Finally, a rest.
I was too strong in letting go.
There is a hole in the earth for each of us.
This is the end.
What a way to spend a Saturday.
Can’t even catch my breath.
Always hungry for more, no matter how far we go.
I guess it was always an issue of trust.
This is how belief is forged.
A beautiful ending to heartbreak.
I deserved this.
My weakness always shows.
No matter how much we build, they always tear it down.
Fright came at last.
An unbearable cold settled in our hearts.
So much water.
So much more to learn.
The water circled us like a tremendous vulture.
An expert in going too far.
Some sort of bright oasis in this storm.
Subdued by the wind, the thunder quieted down.
The mist settled to the ground, revealing our salvation.
A flock finally at home.
What is a herd without a shepherd.
Nothing could stop this kind of tyranny.
I would give anything to have made it work.
It was not enough.
No hole too deep for you to hide in.
I’ve earned all of this.
There is only so much to say about the obvious.
The clouds parted, revealing a piercing ray of sunshine.
I saw it finally, beyond the thorned branches.
She was so beautiful in that moment of letting go.
I landed hard, too hard.
A soft landing, undeserved.
We’ve built it together.
Asking questions got us this far.
Thorough and final, this process.
How could one quench a thirst like this?
Another life, thrown away.
I discarded the old, and headed up.
Learning to fly was only the first step.
And why not?
Too easy for this sinner.
Impeccably peaceful.
No more searching, no more questioning. It is all here.
But of course, there was not enough time.
All that remained was time. Time to waste.
The lights flickered and I lost your hand.
An answer too final to doubt.

4-Panel Story: Middle.
June 9th, 2008 by Lex

We come to the middle of the story, and there are many paths to take.

After years of pause and wait, the collision feels all too sudden.
I remember how you tried to pull me back.
Oh, how you tried to force me back to you.
For a long time, there had been some sort of momentum. No more.
I ran, finally free, finally broken down into tiny pieces.
It is strange how quickly things seem to be moving now.
We muscled through the pain together, only to be stopped in our tracks by the tempest’s wrath.
No matter how much fight went into the effort, it was in vain.
Slow and steady, just hold on.
I don’t remember what happened after the sinking.
The world spun, sky blurring into a mess of blue and white.
Couldn’t breathe, each gulp of air filled with emptiness.
There was so much to see and take in, but we raced by, barely able to notice.
They went back to where they came from, leaving nothing but emptiness behind.
Looking back on it, there was no control at all over destiny.
The journey was absolute, decisive.
There was no regret, only a permanent sense of loss.
The road traveled that day has left a long scar in my memory.
There was nothing we couldn’t do, until that final goodbye.
One step closed, day by day, we inched towards the finale.
Couldn’t see past the tops of the trees, too thick.
Further and further, we descended into a dark madness.
I climbed on, with the fact that you lay on the cliffs below burning away at my thoughts.
I guess we’ll never see each other again, not with this distance between us.
Your silhouette moved further and further way, until nothing was left but the distant shore.
I cried out your name, once, twice, but the thunder swallowed my words.
Nature roared with laughter at our struggle, waiting to swallow us whole; or even worse, just one.
I blame our choices for getting us here, but the only way is up. It is far.
I have no mouth, but I must scream.
The travel is long, exhausting. You are tired, burnt out, on the verge of collapse.
He built you up just to tear you down, layer by layer, until nothing was left but the long road back.
Your trust got you to this dreadful place, only perseverance will get you out.
Feeling the wind behind our backs, we gave the final push to freedom.
With heavy hearts, we struck a path downwards.
Like echoes reverberating against the cold walls, your memory faded out of existence.
She would never forgive me, so I carried my burden through the landscape to easier ground.
Hour after hour, prying open those eyes, wrestling with my own soul for some rest.
Just another minute, I thought, just one more chance, one more is all.
Never giving up ground, never a single moment of respite, just the body plunging endlessly.
The sound drowned out all hope, muted cries muffled by the enormity of the moment.
I have been looking for the rest of myself, but found only worthless nostalgia.
The thunder within dwarfed the turbulence outside, nature just a pale comparison of the human soul.
Finally closing the loop, I plunged back into the unknown darkness.
The gap widened further. Shadows swallowed the distant shore, a life forgotten.
Everyday we reinvent ourselves, forgetting those that we leave behind, forgetting what we once had.
Crushed by nature’s brute force, you gave it all away.
Pure distilled boredom filled the room. It was you.
A lovely face disappeared into the darkness. She never loved me enough.
Still eating from the same plate, all these years later. Haven’t you learned?
It was too easy to laugh, to ridicule this suffering, a trap that you had just escaped.

4-Panel Story: Beginning.
June 8th, 2008 by Lex

The below lines are loaded in and randomized in the project 4-Panel project in the first block. There is also a middle, and an end.

Exhausted beyond physical pain.
We are far past despair in this place.
You have traveled too long.
There must be a way to stop this.
One of these days, it will not be so dark.
You’ve relived this day, over and over again.
Venomously, time crawled.
Cannot hide any more, too tired.
Only leftovers, again.
We have been through this before.
I would never have wanted this to happen.
We pitied you.
The punishment fit your sin.
You were once so righteous.
You were once so beautiful.
We envied you at first.
You are living this nightmare.
There were no more dreams.
I have lost the ability to speak, or see, beyond the fog.
The never-ending fruitless search.
I was gone then, perhaps too early.
Never felt horror like this.
Had never been as broken as now.
The last one out, too late.
If I had just one more chance.
They never taught us to wait.
Just children, you said.
My thoughts dissolved in regret.
Wish I never met her at all.
It wasn’t love.
It could not be true.
The crumbling was slow, precise.
The collapse was too quick to notice.
Years of wasted sweat.
You wasted it all, our lives.
Walls dark, always closing in.
Hard to breathe in this cage.
All my memories, neatly packed into a box.
The wind erases my pain.
Why won’t you leave me free?
Right here, end it, please.
I couldn’t make the first move.
Against you?
Another empty cause.
Yet another patriotic flame.
Why is it so hard to finish what was started?
Dread overflowed the senses.
No end in sight.
The river raced down, past any sensible rest.
The fall accelerated, burning the senses.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.
June 7th, 2008 by Lex

We’re back, and aim to be better than ever. If you are in the New York area, you can catch Alexey Sokolin at the MoCCA exhibition/convention this Sunday. He is displaying the 4-Panel Story project, along with works by Alexander Rothman, Andrea Tsurumi and Peter Quach. Perhaps their art will make it onto this site in a bit.

A further application from the above project is below: all 57 panels superimposed over each other. Over the next few weeks, Alexey will be working on 2 more pieces like this for a potential abstract comic anthology.