Sunday, July 5, 2015

Why 24:00:01?

In this instance, perhaps the more relevant question would be what is 24:00:01.  Well, I'm mighty glad you asked, dear reader.  24:00:01 is an art piece by Indian artist Shilpa Gupta that I encountered late last year at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art outside Copenhagen.  In its most basic sense, it is a motion flapboard (similar to what you used to see at airports or railway stations) that, instead of listing future arrivals and departures, gradually tells a story (or multiple stories) over time as it rotate through its various letters and sentences.  The letters it displays are sometimes just as important as the ones it does not, just as the time in between phrases can be rife with meaning.  I'll admit that it's a little challenging to explain with words, which is why I've ferreted out a YouTube video showing a small portion of the installation.

It's like no other narrative I've ever encountered.  The way the board madly scrolls through the letters, slowly revealing the hidden meaning within fascinates me.  It's all the more entrancing because it happens again and again and again, gradually uncovering a new piece of the story with each new sentence.  Whether each new snippet adds up to one grand telling or many smaller tales is partly a question of interpretation.  It is something that raises questions and resists traditional definition, and while that might sound a tad pretentious, I think it what make really worthwhile and challenging art.  The whole thing has been bouncing around my head ever since I laid eyes upon it those many months ago and I don't think it's going away any time soon.

Therefore, with the new picking system we've put into place, I thought I'd throw out the challenge to myself and anyone else who wants to give it a try to find a way to translate this work of art into our more familiar comic book medium.  You're welcome to work directly off that video, or if you'd like a little more information on 24:00:01, you can find it at Shilpa Gupta's website (including the piece's full script).

I recognize that this is a somewhat unorthodox selection, but I think that is only going to make the various interpretations we see this week all the more interesting.

As always, you're more than welcome to try your hand at it by posting your scripts to the comments for this very post.


  1. Hi, I'm new. I meant to post last week, but somehow Blogger wants you to sign in again with your google account when you're already signed into your google account for gmail, youtube, and drive. So this is my first comment. This was super challenging and I appreciate it, because it seemed a little left of what this blog usually offers. I came this way via Ryan Lindsay's posts and thought it would be a good idea to start workshopping my scripts. I hope you all like this one and I look forward to your thoughts.

    A Lover’s Discourse
    David Press

    1.1: A wide shot of an open field with a big screen in front of it. We’re at a DRIVE-IN movie and on the edges of the frame we can see other cars parked. The sound effects are the sound of the film projector loading film.

    SFX: Click click click.
    SFX [car horn]: Honk honk!

    1.2: A TURQUOISE Thunderbird Convertible pulls into the panel. For example:

    SFX: Click click click CLACK.

    1.3: The screen has turned BLACK AND WHITE. The RKO logo displays:

    The figures in the ‘bird inch closer to each other. The DRIVER’S arm extends over the passenger. They are silhouettes, because of the film projection, but we can make out that the driver has a buzz-cut and the passenger is a young lady with blond hair done up in a bun.

    Note: the caption is the audio from the trailer that will be playing, and can probably hang over the screen.

    SFX: Honk!
    SFX: Whirrrrrrrrr.
    CAP [Narration from the trailer]: Prepare for love at first sight!

    1.4: The screen changes: there are TWO PEOPLE in a lover’s clench, holding each other. The image can be black and white. The woman is MYRNA LOY and the man is WILLIAM POWELL, from the Thin Man series of movies from the 1930s. Here’s what they looked like:

    LOY: Don’t you get it, Nick--?
    POWELL: Get what, my dear--?

    1.5: The screen is now black. The actor’s words descend from the image and appear right on the screen. The words descend.


    --END OF PAGE--

  2. Howdy David,

    Thanks for fighting through the occasional frustrations of Blogger to join us. I hope your stay will be a comfortable one.

    I like the overall positive vibe here. It can be really tempting to go the other direction with this kind of open-ended narrative, so it's nice to see some warm and fuzzies come out.

    Now, I've never been to a drive-in (shame, I know), but I feel that some of your sfx is a bit excessive. Depending on how the page is drawn, the whiring, honking, and clacking of the projector and cars could end up crowding the page with potentially confusing words that don't necessarily add to the page.

    I also like the call and response of panels 4 and 5 (along with the setup in panel 3), but with the single page, part of me wonders of the need for the couple in the blue t-bird - particularly the two panels dedicated to their arrival at the start. Thoughts?

    I'm really interested in what's going on here and would like to see more, which is always a good thing.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Grant! That's an excellent point about the SFX, and now that I think about it I definitely overdid it--story of my life.

      I guess when I went into writing this page, it seemed like so much of 24:00:01 prompt was telling a story through dialogue and sound. So that's why I went with making the scene alive with sound. I've only been to a drive-in once, outside of Buffalo, NY in 2000, and it was one of the loudest places I've ever been.

      I was thinking the couple would be observers of what was on the screen (flipboard), like they were watching the exhibit.

      Thanks for your thoughts! I really appreciate them!


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