Thursday, November 6, 2008

Drafting History, in Graphite

The last of the election drawings are now up at the St. Louis Beacon. If you enjoyed the series, I ask that you leave a comment on their site. I would like to do more such projects, and more importantly, I am hoping to help jump start a return to the ancient tradition of the illustrator-correspondent in the new media environment.

I will present a complete set of all 23 drawings (possibly with a bracketing pair of intro and resolution pictures) next week sometime.

Meanwhile, I am curious: for readers and viewers, what if anything does this set of drawings provide that a cycle of photographs cannot? What light is shed by such images on the events they describe? Why use fashioned images to report on events?

I am truly interested to hear your thoughts on this--I have some ideas of my own, but yours are much more likely to be useful.


drinkspiller said...

On election day and today I have been unable to successfully register for an account (required to post comments) at the Stl. Beacon site. I never get a confirmation email (it is not simply being filtered to junk mail).

The comment I wanted to post:

Why no RSS feed so I can subscribe to newly posted sketches? Much easier to follow a progressive event that way than to keep checking in.

DB Dowd said...

O drinkspiller: I will forward your comment! Thanks!

MikeC said...

As for your question, Douglas, the fashioned image allows the "visual reporter" greater control over the information contained in the image. The camera limits the photographer and the viewer to only what can be corralled into frame at any one moment. Many illustrators or "image-makers" will still produce an image that might appear to emulate a photograph, with semi-realistic depictions of dimensional spaces shown from the view of a bystander or participant, but the information contained in that space could be the subject of multiple photographs. The image-maker can visit a place for an hour and could feasibly include everything of note that happened in the course of that hour in a single image; given that same hour and one image, the photographer could still only capture a fleeting moment. Sure, the photograph is a much better device for capturing the impact of that single moment, but if I were looking to comprehend the place in that hour, a talented illustrator would tell me vastly more.

DB Dowd said...

Ah Mr. Costelloe...Another country heard from. How art thou?

I agree that time is part of the answer. You can compress it in a drawing. Overall, I think the issue of selection (both spatially and temporally) is key to establishing emphasis, or crafting a kind of visual argument. This is not always intentional--in fact it's often intuitive. Case in point: in one of the Beacon election drawings, I placed the name "Rush Limbaugh" in alignment with a horse's ass. I did not mean to do so. I was after the juxtaposition of the war memorial figure, which has that vaguely fascist quality of much art deco statuary, and the demagogic chatter of M. Limbaugh. It's subtle. If I had made a more pointed connection between the host and the horse, it would have been transformed from an observation into a comment. It would become a cartoon, a rhetorical form. Of course it still has rhetorical aspects--there is nothing necessary about the juxtaposition of that text and that image--but it still operates more like reporting than opinion.

PS: my football team stinks, and yours is very very good, but my team beat your team. A brief happy moment in a steep descent...

Next: news from the Big Easy?