Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Copernican Revolutions...

New pages from Chapter 2! These two were not part of my working outline, and as I finished the previous pages on ways of seeing and Eratosthenes's unflattening of the earth and was looking ahead to the next pages, I kept feeling there was a missing transition visually and conceptually. Copernicus's reenvisioning of the known universe as sun-centered kept coming to mind. I'd played with it subtly in "Mind the Gaps," which this chapter builds on, and an image from that (my redrawing of the Flammarion woodcut) was used as part of the discussion on education and the metaphor of the Copernican Moment that I contributed to in response to David Scobey's Imagining America Keynote speech. In that text response, I made mention of the Copernican revolution fueling further scientific and cultural revolutions - and in part this means the Enlightenment. So, i went on a sidetrack of reading: Arthur Koestler's The Sleepwalkers, about Copernicus, Kepler and other early astronomers; EO Wilson's Consilience, a look at what the Enlightenment got right (and wrong) and how we can unify knowledge; Horkheimer and Adorno's The Dialectic of the Enlightenment, which looks at what went wrong; Kant's What is Enlightenment?; the writings of Marquis de Condorcet, prime figure in thinking of the progress of mankind during the Enlightenment; Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (and here, i had an odd experience, i was reading Pirsig on Kant, Phaedrus's knife of analysis, and stumbled on a paragraph on Copernicus that uncannily resonated with what i had just written on the Copernicus page); and hordes of astronomical history websites to think through the shift from the various models. All of that boils down to these two pages, and i'm on to the next. Also below, a few of the sketches that led to these. Onward to the next pages! Thanks - Nick

Generative sketches for the two pages...

Friday, September 14, 2012

the Shape of Our Thoughts in VisArts Journal

My piece "The Shape of Our Thoughts" a meditation on thinking and how comics work has just seen print in Visual Arts Research Journal, Vol.38 No.1, Issue 74 Summer 2012 (whew!). The entire piece is devoted to the graphic novel and art education - all scholarship in comics form. You can check the full issue out here and see all the other contributors' works.  Thanks to editors B.Stephen Carpenter, II, and Kevin Tavin for the inclusion.

I've posted this on the site before (here) and also the original 6-page proposal version of it here. After the original proposal was accepted, I was given the opportunity to revise and expand it - which posed some curious challenges in reworking and adding pages to go from 6 to 10 pages. (In comics, it's not the same as simply inserting an extra paragraph and letting things scroll to the next page...) It's interesting to compare the two versions and on the earlier version, i've also got commentary on the images. 

This piece has served as the core of talks i've been giving over the last year and will itself be reworked and greatly expanded as the third chapter of my dissertation - a combination literature review and methodology section. Looking forward to have that to share in months to come. - Nick 
(oh yes, in case not immediately apparent, 6&7 are intended to be a double page spread). 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Parallax and Eratosthenes

I've begun Chapter Two in earnest! Pages are roughed out and starting to assembled finished pages. The first page here is a reworking of a piece i did some time ago called "Mind the Gaps" as a chapter for a book by my advisor Ruth Vinz on narrative inquiry. One side note, in the earlier piece i used the parallax view to show the depth of the Orion constellation. Here because of Perseus' inclusion in the Chapter prior, i figured out the relative distances of the stars in Perseus. 

The second page picks up the theme of parallax and connects it to Eratosthene's calculation in which he not only demonstrated the world was not-flat, but also measured its circumference quite elegantly. I was familiar with this method from my dad's physics course, and had wanted to work it in somewhere in the narrative. At some point in playing with ideas, i realized how much it resonated with my working definition of unflattening, and how it could be used to introduce the concept. Anyhow, that's a bit behind the scenes... - Nick