Genevieve Slater
       ,       ,       !

Combined Comics (Whirlwinds 4)

Jamie George: In 2020 there have been some high-profile examples of design and policy coming together, primarily through political campaigns and public information initiatives. These are designed to impact you as a specific individual and speak to you and your family, yet, to aim to catch everyone’s attention – a very contradictory, or tautological starting point. It often feels, to me, like the world of politics, public services, news and TV are collapsing into one another. This collapse can make it difficult to tell the difference between a COVID-19 public policy initiative and a supermarket’s Christmas ad campaign. Both occupy the same space and follow on from another on ITV and Instagram. The results are like a cartoon caricature of life in the UK.

HANDS FACE SPACE is a good example of this; one of many three-word slogans:





I was wondering how this might relate to your Combined Comics line drawings and the way you isolate key visual elements or 'phrases' and how they sit next to others, in the vacuum-like space of the white paper, or coloured background.


Here is a text by a corporate affairs agency which refers to the three-word slogans as a superpower.  


Combined Comics (Whirlwinds 3)


Combined Comics (Whirlwinds 2)

JG: The rule of three’ and the Latin phrase omne trium perfectumeverything that comes in threes is perfect, or, every set of three is complete.


& Responding to your thought on extreme reduction – revised slogan could read:

       ,       ,       !    


How should this be placed on a blank page, if there are no other words or letters, to anchor the punctuation?

Genevieve Slater: Some thoughts,


Reduction to the point of extremity, to almost nothingness. Detaching and isolating, zooming in. The removal of visual context and surroundings, therefore, a dependency on preconceived, or pre-existing ideas in order to comprehend and piece together. Although presented with a completed image. Understanding depends on external elements. 


& Visual clues. A partial picture. What is the minimum information that needs to be presented in order to construct or convey the desired message? Communication concentrated to the point of abstraction. I’ve been thinking a lot about this in terms of landscape recently. How little is needed to convey ideas of landscape, and how in cartoons there is such plasticity of line that very little is needed to communicate so much.


& How, as language and image are distilled to the point of symbolism, they take on a temporal element and become representative of place and sentiment. 


& Minimum input. Maximum effect. Efficiency.


& Taken from Here: “…peppered richly with metaphor and visual imagery – but, as is often the case, rather thin on detail. Yet there’s a sense in which that simply doesn’t matter, because relatively few people will have watched or read the speech carefully or in its entirety.” 




Combined Comics (Whirlwinds 1)


Postcard Painting 12


GS: Reading about the rule of three got me thinking about basic storytelling, how successfully a narrative is divided into three–beginning, middle and end–this, then, in terms of the transferral of information and how this could relate to viewing. How do we transpose the ideas of beginning, middle and end onto an image, how does this affect the way an image is ‘read’? Linear vs. non-linear narrative. Can you read a painting backwards? How does the placing of information/image affect this? Is this something that can be coerced in a way similar to language? This feels particularly applicable to the Combined Comics series. 


& It also led me to consider the divisions of space into threes. I’ve been thinking about landscape a lot at the moment, which is often divided into land, sea and sky. I often begin a painting by separating the space into three, it seems now that this was less volitional and perhaps a response to how the rule of three is ingrained in how we think and see. I’m including here David Salle’s Ghost #5 painting where half the content is a division of three - I think about these works a lot.


& Diagrams and symbols are important when we are considering reduction in reference to slogans. Language vs. visuals, text + image and then their interchangeability. The prioritisation and hierarchy of information. 

Postcard Painting 13

JG: I keep thinking about the relationship between information giving and abstraction, in the Hands Face Space campaign, especially at a time of emergency, whilst we have this conversation. When looking at images in a ‘crisis’ state, again and again, a process of abstraction happens quite quickly. Where a reader/viewer fills in the gaps themselves. I am interested in how, by stripping out information, a vacuum can be created, a place to foreground elemental forms.

GS: Ultimately, it boils down to efficiency, and exploring this efficiency. 


& Communicating as quickly as possible, shrugging all unnecessary baggage and honing in on the absolute forms needed to relay a message. An instantaneous communication system. The weakness is that you have to be caught up on what’s going on externally for the system to work. You need information about the system to be able to tap into the system - catch 22.


& When I work, it feels like a test. What is enough, how little can you get away with giving? An experiment, what is enough for me, what is enough for someone else? How much control of the outcome do you have when you continue to reduce the information you give?


& Creating, using, manipulating this shorthand, and mocking the shorthand by repeating the condensing processes so much that you end up with a version of something so concentrated it becomes meaningless. There is a line, a threshold between meaningful and meaningless. The idea of nothing carrying such weight is pretty funny to me. 


& It’s useful here to acknowledge the way we process information, and culturally how we have been taught to do this. We are so focussed on speed and efficiency, and no one wants to accept a slow dribble of information.



Postcard Painting 14

Genevieve Slater is a visual artist based in Newcastle upon Tyne. Genevieve produced this series of drawings and postcard paintings for Dreck. The themes in the imagery and accompanying written responses came from looking at the HANDS FACE SPACE public information graphic created during COVID-19 pandemic.