Monday, May 5, 2008
Thinker Phillip Thurtle
Thurtle at USF (yes, he was not wearing shoes- apparently his students at UW are used to this).
I quite enjoyed the casual nature of his talk. He opened by saying he prefers questions whenever people have them, rather than at the end of his talk- that he is a very interactive speaker. This immediately made the event more of a conversation than anything else, which was good because Thurtle got into some abstract stuff that was best cleared up with a question or two.
His task for the talk was to make us realize that we take comics, the medium that teaches us to read text as image, for granted. In fact, comics, a medium thought of as low culture, can actually teach us loads about the world, the future, and philosophy. He began by comparing journalism to comics. "Journalism is limited: it only covers what just happened. Comics cover what may happen."
Here are some other snippets of the presentation/conversation:
Comics teach us:
how to read surfaces instead of lines
what it means to live in an industrial society
ways to engage in the world.
"The image shows states of affairs and scenes and the eye has to discover the relations"- Villem Flusser
Comics always deal with a high level of industrialization- Superheros always have one foot in industry and one foot in their bodies.
In comics, it's not about personal transformation, it's about world transformation. With images, time is different. The time of the panel moves with the world, not by the subject, like in other mediums of storytelling. You the reader has to move time in a book. How? You have a plot. Something happens through the action of an individual. In comics, time is part of the world.
Images are important for provoking the imagination into inhabiting a possible future. The idea is not to get rid of conscious thought, the idea is that things don't always move with reason and logic.
"We are who we are because of our environments." It's about understanding the world instead of the world understanding you.
"You have to change the way you think about space. For me, a much more interesting way of thinking about space is as the things that bring us together. I can see outside because of the window."
Thurtle also touched a bit on Scott McCloud's book Understanding Comics: the Invisible Art, which we read in preparation for his class. An interesting point I found in this book is the idea that we apparently see ourselves in cartoons, and other people in realistic drawings or photos of faces. Thurtle touched on this too. He said, "detail is all about othering."