Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Part I, Chapter 1: Fundamentals, Section 1.6

§1.6) Elemental Semantics

From §1.1 we have a set of axioms for the further construction of the theorem of formal logic in sequential art. However, the practical meaning of the concept of "element" remains undefined. In this section, we shall define elements and provide intuitive examples of the way in which elements in a layout combine to create the formal semantics of sequential art as a language.

1.6.1) In axiomatic sequential art, as illustrated in previous sections, elements et in a layout L are considered to be atomic propositions. In formal logic, an atomic proposition is a statement of fact that can take either a value of "true" or "false", and which cannot be broken down further into smaller statements. For example, the statement "Socrates is a man" is an atomic proposition. In axiomatic sequential art, the illustrations of the objects themselves are considered atomic propositions. For example, if I were to draw a dog, it would be the equivalent of the written statement "There is a dog", or more simply - DOG.

Sequential art builds meaning out of assemblages of the elements in the same way that logic assembles atomic propositions with logical connectives such as AND, OR, NOT, and IF-THEN. These are called "molecular propositions". For example, the statement "Socrates is a man AND he is mortal". The logic of sequential art, similarly, composes elements into a larger semantic context. Imagine if I drew a dog in a running pose and drew movement-lines behind it. This would be equivalent to the molecular proposition: "There is a dog AND it is running", or more simply [DOG & RUNNING]. Adding on successive numbers of elements increases the complexity of each statement in the layout. For example, if one added a third element to the scene of the running dog - that of a sky in the background with no visible ground underneath, for example, a bank of clouds or a bird - then the context would increase in complexity and the statement would become [DOG & ( RUNNING & SKY ) ], and therefore "There is a dog and it is running in the sky". This is why, for brevity and simplicity of interpretation, the practice of dividing scenes into panels was born, which reduces the number of statements the reader must deal with in any given scene.

Fundamental to the nature of sequential art is the concept of sequentiality - that of a passage of time. This is, essentially, equivalent to the IF-THEN statement of logic. In static art, scenes depicted are of a "snapshot" of a single image. In the context of sequential art there is the implication of a time-interval between individual elements. Here is the fundamental difference between static art and sequential art. The contextualization of a sequence of events relies necessarily on the viewer filling in the essential logical step of "if there is this set of elements, then there will be this next set of elements."

Imagine if I drew the running dog in the previous example and then followed it by an image of the dog licking a man. The semantics of sequential art means that the following statement was produced: "If there is a dog and it was running, then it ran to a man and licked him," or rather: "A dog ran to a man and licked him." Symbolically: [ DOG & RUNNING ] -> [ DOG & (LICKING & MAN) ].

Therefore, one can build statements equivalent to written propositions visually, through the formal logic of sequential art.

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