Tag Archives: Inktober 2022

Once and future Video Art

A space explorer discovers video. And it’s quite excellent.

I once was a video artist and a teacher of video and even a scholar of video. I’ll post some selections from my writings on video and film in a short while, but here I want to comment on the relationship between comics and time-based media. Obviously, both video and comics have a spatial and a temporal component to them. The frame for video is the spatial part – what happens within the frame moves across the space of the frame – and the duration of the video is itself time captured in a medium. But, comics have a special relationship with space as the page can be designed to use the space in ways similar to graphic design and web layout. And time, while seemingly artificial in comics and graphic novels (the gaps between panels for instance and the page turns), is actually psychological and perceptual (and real) in that time passes for the reader in real time outside the constraints of the page and the story.

I say this not to over complicate things, but rather to refute the notion that I’ve encountered often that comics are sort of a storyboard version of movies and that movies are more sophisticated in some way. Movies are of course simply comics with a bigger team of creators and a larger budget for props and sets.

And when I was a kid there was a book called All in Color for a Dime and movies cost a buck or two. So, there’s that. And video art? I loved the plastic tape in cartridges that I had to fiddle with endlessly so that it could roll back and then sync up the machines and make a cut. If it was a mistake, so much the better.

There was a frustration and yet a pleasure in the physical nature of video prior to the digital era. I get that physical aspect from drawing with pen and ink and even from drawing with a stylus on the iPad. While digital video is much easier to work with and much more flexible, I find the intangible virtuality of it off-putting. But others seem to excel at that form of video. Good for them.