COMPOSITION: CLOSURE (Part 3)
“Perception is heuristic in nature – in order to speed up the translation of sensory data to conscious processes, our cognitive processes take short cuts and use generally applicable and broadly accurate rules of thumb to process the raw information and compensate for flaws in the incoming data stream.”
(Levy, J. (2013). Freudian Slips: all the Psychology You Need to Know; pg. 121)
I have already touched upon the notion of closure as an intrinsic element that allows readers of sequential art to bridge the gaps between the images and the gutter, experiencing a “continuous” narrative flow. I will elaborate it a bit further in light of current subject matter, since closure functions as a prism of visual experience. (Plus, as it is with “reuse” of pictures for different purposes, it’s always a positive when you can expand a concept into different venues.)
For the most part we can say that we live in the present moment. Now, we do have to suspend our disbelief of how we process this present moment and how much we are hindered by the shadow of the past events and the looming echo of the future to come. Our present moment extends to the future events which we are continually entering into; yet, our past experiences allow us to anticipate them better, thus removing the shocks that would befall us otherwise. In comics terms, by “connecting the dots”, we are required to make sense of our daily lives just as much as we make sense of the story by connecting the panels. Technically speaking, we are using closure at every moment. We are connecting the dots repeatedly through blinking itself; however, we do not experience it as obstruction, since its rapid nature functions like film: a continuous series of images, creating the illusion of motion.
Another simple, yet obvious example of closure occurs on a daily basis when we go to sleep. There is an obvious difference between the image we see when we wake up from the one before we closed our eyes. The difference may be merely temporal or spatial (if we wake up facing in a different direction), but the fact remains that our brain needs to make sense of the change in the surroundings, allowing us to visually assess the situation we are in. And as with comics where all the magic happens between the panels, life happens between all the sensory and empirical information we are privy to (if not faced with) at every single moment.
I’ll reuse the double-page spread from Beowulf (2016, Image Comics) by Santiago Garcia and David Rubin as an example. Not only are the inserted small panels on a diagonal used to subtly guide the eye through the composition, but they add to the vibrant celebration at the dinner table (although it can be seen as the last supper as well). The focus on bones implies voraciousness of the feast and refers to the inexplicably hard times in the old Norse era, where food was often scarce. Indulging your primal animalistic urges comes to mind. The small panels are highlighted through the fiery yellow (contrasting) background and through their extreme close-ups. Artistically they serve as balancing forces for the whole scene, while also stressing the continuous flow of the meal, which marvelously embodies the concept of connecting the dots and captures the illusion of motion.
For reasons of extreme prejudice, the author of this blog wishes to remain anonymous …