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PR “I wanted to make a book that had no beginning or end.” In Building Stories (2012), Chris Ware explores the “three dimensionalities of memories and stories: how one is able to tell a starting at this or that point depending on the circumstance, and to take them apart and put them back together.”[1] This project extends Ware’s conversion of typical architectural drawing techniques such as elevations, sections, axonometrics and perspectives into an imaging practice. Ware’s graphic assemblages of text and image create what Jacques Rancière calls “an alteration of resemblance” or a “discrepancy”: a dissemblance that deliberately clarifies or obscures an idea.”[2] Like the cinematic montage techniques of Robert Bresson’s Au Hazard Balthazar (1966), such as framing and sound effects, Ware’s imaging operations dissemble the physical form of the material, temporal sequences, representational techniques and the interplay between images and text. This project focuses on the alterityof images in Ware’s work.

AA Can the imaging practices of Chris Ware’s Building Stories (2012), a printed graphic fiction, be compared to

those of Robert Bresson’s film Au Hazard Balthazar (1966) despite their vastly different media Jacques Rancière’s 

theories suggest it can. In “The Future of the Image” Rancière argues that images  are “not primarily manifestations

of the properties of a certain technical medium, but operations … that couple and uncouple the visible and its 

signification or speech and its effect, which create and frustrate expectations.”[3] According to Rancière, the play of images in Bresson’s film begins “when the screen is still dark, with the crystalline notes of Schubert Sonata” which continues throughout the credits and eventually is replaced by the braying of a donkey. Sound and silence, visible and invisible are all part of the imaging practice. Similarly, in Building Stories the fourteen uniquely formatted and shaped printed materials are only superficially similar media. For example, one of the printed materials takes the form of a typical newspaper. The point here is not only to work, look and feel like a newspaper but to play with the memory, and the image, of holding and using a newspaper.  Again, analyzing Au Hasard Balthazar, Rancière focuses on the fragmentation and “double operation” of Bresson’s images which simultaneously “create[s] and retract[s] meaning.”[4] In one scene the camera is fixated on the hand that pours the water. By separating the hand from facial expression, it reduces an action to its essence: “baptism consists in words and pouring water over a head.”[5] In Building Stories we find similar operations where certain actions focus on the hand. More important for us, Chris Ware’s use of architectural drawing techniques is explicit and similarly ambivalent, potentially recalling famous architectural images of infinity, endlessness or repetition such as Boullee’s design for a library, Superstudio’s perspectives, Archizoom’s No Stop City or Ludwig Hilberseimer’s High Rise City.  

[1] “Chris Ware on cartooning and memories,” (YouTube video, 1:36, filmed April, 2015). Posted June 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGV7zcInb20   [2] Jacques Rancière, “The Future of the Image” in The Future of the Image, tr. G. Elliot, London: Verso, 2007 [2003], 6.   [3] Rancière, 3-5.   [4] Rancière, 5.   [5] Rancière, 5.