Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Tim Gaze's 100 Scenes

Tim Gaze's 100 Scenes is an interesting formal experiment: it's a one-hundred page, abstract graphic novel. Using a particular printing technique, each page contained a blotchy ink pattern that had some consistency thanks to the way the paper was pressed to produce it. Gaze noted that it was up to each reader to "read" each page and determine what they saw.

There is a real power to sequentiality. Simply by following up an image on one page with an image on another page, and continuing that kind of physical page-turning rhythm, there's an illusion of time passing and events changing. The result here was feeling as though I was being taken on a tour of very old images in a very old place. Some of the images were horrifying, some of them were mysterious, and some of them seemed to tell their own stories, but no matter what, there was a sense of being disconnected from them. There was a sense of being a tourist, safely detached from the old, visceral dangers that I witnessed. No matter how long I lingered on an individual image, I always had the sense that I never truly comprehended what was going on in that scene because there was another scene to attend to.

Some of those scenes felt like blood spattered on a wall, sophisticated cave drawings, networks of some kind of nervous system or sophisticated plant, mysterious & shadowy beings, strange lights, being plunged into darkness, walking in an ancient forest with just bits of light poking in above us, and glimpses of intelligences that I couldn't quite comprehend. It had a feeling of forbidden knowledge in an almost Lovecraftian sense. Yet the distance I felt from it kept the atmosphere from being one of true dread. It was like seeing an eclipse through a pinhole in a cardboard box instead of staring straight at the sun, like seeing the shadows of horror rather than the horror itself. The length of the book led to some repeat viewings of similar images, as though I was treading similar ground. Some of the things I saw looked like actual images, and others felt like tricks of the light. The length of the book was at times punishing, but it was important to stick through it in order to complete the journey as presented. All in all, it was an interesting experience to read, using simple rules regarding the form of comics to maximum effect.

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