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PR Building Stories (2012) is an unconventional graphic fiction by American cartoonist Chris Ware that includes fourteen independent stories printed in different formats such as booklet, poster, children’s book or newspaper. The boxed collection includes images of a few of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Chicago buildings in simplified form. These sorts of imaging operations on the architecture of Chicago characterize Ware’s work. There is almost no detail in his drawing, yet what he draws is as easily recognized as online thumbnail photographs of famous and generic buildings. How do they compare? How does Ware’s imaging practice use replication, affiliation, distortion, dissemblance and error? Our video combines Ware’s work and internet-sourced images to imagine an urban space of multiple plots. 

AA Chris Ware uses different graphic formats to narrate fictions that include elements from his real life to create a “Chris Ware” Chicago world. As Douglas Wolk has explained, “the organizing principle of Building Stories is architecture, and –even more than he usually does– Ware renders places and events alike as architectural diagrams.”[1] Our aim is to mediate a version of that world in a video with similar plots and imaging operations. This effort is informed by Antonio Damasio’s theory of consciousness as mapping and imaging processing, David Joselit’s theory of image value and circulation and Lev Manovich’s theory of instagramism.[2] Damasio explains brain imaging, or mapping, as mercurial and situational. Brain imaging is a spatial mapping of everyday life. In our video, imaging operations are an animated mediation of Chris Ware world. Also, Ware’s drawings circulate Frank Lloyd Wright’s projects as imagery. This shares aspects of Manovich’s theory, particularly his category of “designed” imaging. Our video converts Chris Ware’s graphics into a kind of instagramism.

[1] Douglas Wolk, “Inside the Box,” New York Times, October 18, 2012. www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/books/review/building-stories-by-chris-ware.html   [2] Antonio Damasio, “Making Maps and Making Images,” in Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain, 67-94, Vintage, 2010; David Joselit, “Preface” and “Image Explosion,” in After Art, Princeton University Press, 2013; Lev Manovich, “Designing and Living Instagram Photography: Themes, Feeds, Sequences, Branding, Faces, Bodies,” in Instagram and the Contemporary Imagehttp://manovich.net/index.php/projects/instagram-and-contemporary-image