March 31st: Cartoons and Comics

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Ahoy, ahoy!

We’ve entered the last week of classes at Mount Allison!  It should be spring, but of course, we had to be hit with a freak snowstorm on April Fool’s Day.  So it looks like we’ve backtracked a bit into winter, when really it should be spring.  Last Thursday we began discussing comic strips and cartooning.  Often, a cartoonist will not be labelled as an artist, and it’s taken a while for cartooning to become recognized as a legitimate art form.  I think you might still be hardpressed to find people who would willingly accept cartoons and comics as a form of art.  It is unfortunate that comic strip artists and illustrators are often branded as practitioners of a “lower” art form.  Just because their art is often not found within a gallery, does not mean it is a lesser form of art.

I think that so often, drawing gets classified as the “jumping off point” for sculptures, paintings, installations.  I remember having to do a preliminary sketch or series of sketches for each work we wanted to do in my high school art classes.  Very rarely was drawing the medium that the final work would take.  We didn’t even have a unit on cartooning or illustrating in the whole three years of art classes that I took.  These were ventures that would be encouraged for you to take on yourself, outside of class time.  However, despite this somewhat negative association, comics and illustrations are the mediums by which I personally believe the majority of the Western population experiences art.  Comic strips appear in each daily paper, often running for years at a time.  My personal favourite comic is Calvin and Hobbes, which ran from November 1985 to December 1995.  That’s ten years of fresh ideas, every day of the week!  I think everyone has a favourite comic, or can at least name one that they find funny.

A "Calvin and Hobbes" comic strip

Additionally, part of being a comic artist is being able to come up with characters and storylines that are able to be expressed with a correct balance of text and drawing.  Comics take on a different style and feel that is often reflective of the comic artist, and more often than not, a comic artist’s self will be reflected in their characters.  I think that being a cartoonist is being an artist, it’s just a more accessible form of art to everyone.  So often, people unfamiliar with art will either claim to find it boring or they will feel embarrassed about not knowing too much about it.  Comics are an art form that everyone has access to and can enjoy on their own or with other people.

That’s all!

Brit

February 15th: How To Effectively Show Video and Film

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Ahoy, ahoy!

I’ve gotten a bit behind on my blog entries, as the last week before the break was a rather hectic one!  Nevertheless, I have some time to make it up now.  On the fifteenth of February, we had a rather relaxing class, as we viewed a bunch of different videos and talked about the importance of the National Film board.

This class was obviously different in structure than normal, because we do not often sit for the full time and watch videos.  Not surprisingly, this was actually unintentional, as what was previously scheduled for that class had to be rescheduled.  As we sat and watched videos that varied greatly in content and construction, I began thinking about what the best way to show video is.  I have been in art galleries before that have had videos playing, and I do not always watch the entire thing.  If I come in during the middle of the video, will I even be able to understand what is going on in the piece?  Also, if I begin watching it, will I be sitting for 2 minutes or 2 hours?  I don’t believe it is very effective to show videos in galleries, but then where else are people supposed to go to view these works?  The National Film board website gives you access to either whole films or trailers, and you can buy some DVD’s of the works, but is this the only option?

I suppose another option for showing film would to have scheduled viewings, much like a film festival.  I know that last semester, the Sackville Film Society was showing experimental shorts before the feature presentation.  Perhaps this is an effective way of getting an audience for your work?  Additionally, sometimes the National Film board puts these videos/films on television.  If the film is short, this could be another way of getting an audience for the work.  We briefly discussed this problem in class, but it really got me thinking.  On my own personal exploration of the National Film board website, I certainly did not watch each and every film.  Some films I started and then stopped.  Having everything on a website makes it accessible, to be sure, but just because it is accessible does not mean it is being accessed as often as the artist would like.

This is the film I liked best on the National Film board website.

http://www.nfb.ca/partial/player/popout/35741/?ct=0

Maybe personal media sharing, such as blogging, is another way to get word out about particular films?

That’s all!

Brit