Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Mini-Kus! Wednesday: Open Molar, by Lilli Carre'

Mini-Kus #80 is Lilli Carre's Open Molar. Seen a bit less in the world of comics these days since she's doing animation, it was a treat to see this new work. It abandons her flat illustrative style for something more abstract. Indeed, the entire comic has the feel of a set of diagrams, as it's designed as a set of instructions. The first is "Start mature." 

What exactly this is a set of instructions for is unclear. At various points, it seems to be regarding a set of dentures, but it later becomes a construct to seal oneself off from the outside world. The diagrams mix slashing dark blue lines with swathes of color that have no lines to contain them. The soft color designs resemble fingers or teeth while the lines sometimes coalesce into human forms, cup forms, window forms, and even plant forms. The accompanying text serves to deliberately obfuscate meaning instead of explaining the diagrams, as it's clear this is a process for...something. It's not clear what, but each instruction seems unconnected to the next. For example, "You should have a small gap around the frame. Check the plumb, level, and square. Note all mutations." is followed by "The drop shape will take color, developing a scent for deformation. If you fertilize, expect variation." There are later references to drilling and leaves.

That text provokes confusion and the slightest hint of recognition, as the more context Carre' provides, the more confusing the comic becomes. The final page is the only one that has panels, but each one only has circles, semi-circles, and splotches of color. Bits of the panel borders themselves fade in and out as the circle structure seems to float across the page. This is a mysterious comic either written in a deliberate code or designed to undermine any sense of what we understand as the purposeful, didactic interaction of word and image. The fact that it is not entirely abstract makes its oblique meanings all the more interesting to ponder; they are slippery and hard to capture. The irony of this is that the text is rather definitive in terms of its expectations of how the process is to go. After following these steps, something is expected to happen, but it's not clear what it is. Multiple readings are valuable in allowing one to slow down and truly parse the images, but what remains is a piece designed to foil the human brain's tendency to fill in gaps and blanks in order to create meaning.

No comments:

Post a Comment