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When a third is not a third: Prisoner’s cinema production journal

Hey all, a quick update to let you know that I just finished the first third of the pieces that are going into Prisoner’s Cinema. That is not bad if I do say so myself, and if responses from people I have showed them to are anything to go by, the book is shaping up well! If you read on I will shed a little more light on the planning and work process that I set for this project, leaving parts of that introductory announcement either complete fiction or mere appropriations of the truth. Doing the works that became my previous book, When the last story is told, the entire process was about discovery and experimentation; publication was never a goal when I made the whiteout collages, although I did assemble them in a comics frame of mind and eventually started making ”double page spreads”. It was not until after when I sorted away the chaff of the work spree that the book came together, and the concept of deteriorating narrative emerged.

Having uncovered a load of new techniques during the process, however, I knew I needed to plan and conceptualize my next book so that I could put them to use in a meaningful way. First, the concept of prisoner’s cinema provided me with both a title and a format to work within; I am not averse to visual puns and decided to use the 16:9 screen aspect ratio for the book. In June last year I wrote at length about the format, grid, and posted some initial tryout collages that I had made. It is on top of collages like those that I make monotype impressions to produce the final works.

Usually, I will have an extended period of making collages from scraps and cuttings from magazines, followed by a similar stretch of monotypes. I have found that the two stages require different frames of mind and, on a more practical level, having my worktable filled with both printer’s ink and paper scraps of all sizes is even more of a mess than one might imagine…

Second, I wanted to make a bulkier book than When the last story is told this time, which is why the preliminary outline of the book dictates one hundred individual pages of artwork. When I say that I am one third into the artworks today, however, I mean that I made my fourtieth of a planned total of one hundred and twenty pieces, twenty or more of which I intend to omit from the finished book. The editing and sequencing process of Last story taught me that tough selections need to be made to produce a satisfactory book – and the pieces left out are not necessarily of lower quality than those allowed in, they just do not fit in the whole.

With Prisoners cinema, I aim for a lower waste ratio because I actually have a vision of what I mean to achieve as I make the works, but I maintain freedom to experimentation when I am laying down work on a new collage or monotype. If I had a finished storyboard for the entire book already, there would be too little room for play within the process, and I would lose interest. On the other hand, if I end up with a final selection of, say, eighty-five pieces to go into the book, that is what will go to the printer.

My next project milestone is when I have another twenty or thirty works done – or ”done for now”, because I might go back and add work to some or all pieces before the book sees print if I think they are lacking – at which point I will take a status of it all and see what needs to be done going forward: How do the works fall into the structure I have in mind, does that structure need amendment, and will I need to try out different techniques to improve on the variation of the book? That is in the future, and may turn into another production journal entry.

Before I close, I want to remind you that I sell original artwork from When the last story is told to finance my work on Prisoner’s cinema. You can also support by buying my ArtMoney or, if all else fails, share those links wherever you spend your online time. Thanks!

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