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I can’t walk away yet, won’t even try

November 13, 2011

As of my writing this, I’ve only read Important Artifacts; I haven’t gotten to the secondary reading just yet (I literally have been home from work less than an hour).  I’m gonna try and get to that tomorrow after work.  Anyway…enough bullshitting.

So…Important ArtifactsImportant Artifacts was an interesting experience, especially considering I’m about up to my neck in thinking about narrative.  So, going into Important Artifacts, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but I do have to say that the execution of it is ingenious and unconventional.  The book is certainly a departure from forms of storytelling that I’m used to, but it was certainly a refreshing change.  The main storytelling mode, the exhibition/description of objects, is something that I find intriguing.  Last night, as I was reading it, I kept thinking about all of the stories my belongings could tell if they could speak.  I related it to a scene in Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King where the player/hero meets a character who learns of the journey the player & his party have been on by (magically, of course) examining the hero’s feet.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I often attach a lot of sentimentality to my belongings and feel a strong connection with that stuff.  Every now-and-then, just like last night, I wonder about the stories my stuff could tell.  Anyway, enough sentimentality.  It’s kinda dredging up bad memories.  Moving on!

So, something I was thinking about regarding Important Artifacts is whether or not the book could be considered a narrative.  As I said, Important Artifacts goes about telling a story through pictures & descriptions of objects and tidbits of messages between Hal and Lenore, like emails and notes written on playbills.  I would say that the book could be considered a narrative, but very conditionally.  What really tells the story is the descriptions, the captions and the messages between Hal & Lenore.  If those weren’t there, the story wouldn’t be there, either.  That being said, though, if we didn’t have the pictures, but the captions & messages remained, the story would be somewhat confusing; but, thanks to our imaginations, it could still work since we could visualize what was being described.

But, back to my main thought: I would consider Important Artifacts a narrative.  Again, the status of it being a narrative is dependent on the symbiotic relationship between the pictures & captions.  Kinda goes back to Chaos Theory and the sensitive dependence on initial conditions, doesn’t it?  But, that’s my thought experiment for the time being.  I’m rather tired and I can’t quite think straight.  I’ll probably come back & edit this tomorrow night, along with posting comments.

(P.S. The title of this post comes from the Audioslave song “Drown Me Slowly.”)


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  1. Steve,
    I encourage you to read Drucker’s essay, especially as it relates to your budding argument about the narrative qualities of “Important Artifacts…” I think you might want to use Drucker’s work to expand your argument and tie in some analysis to the “ergodic” ( aspects of “Important Artifacts…” After reading Drucker’s piece, I’m considering how the graphic devices of the work help readers navigate the presentation of the story, while the captions allow this navigation to contribute to the story of Morris and Doolan’s relationship, thus producing a complex text that crosses disciplines and provides an interesting structure to analyze… After you’re done reading Drucker’s essay, let me know whether the seemingly intrinsic sentiment of arranging “important,” personal artifacts is tied to Shapton’s conventions of using graphic devices to develop this narrative. Obviously, Shapton’s story is not a new one but the conventions used to tell the story certainly push the limits of a narrative; it’s an interesting concept and Shapton certainly hooked me…

  2. I like your blog here, the pictures can tell a story, but still needs the text to explain what they mean (reminds me of Ryan). I was also thinking of how video games works. There is “environmental storytelling” where scenes can express or continue a narrative, but could the game succeed without dialogue between characters or written text for the player to read? I suppose it might if it were an abstract game, would that mean if “Important Artifacts” were only pictures, could it be considered an abstract novel…

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