Saturday, August 15, 2009

Notes from the Trenches

1. Some interesting discussions happening over the National Artist controversy (i.e. the selection of filmmaker Carlo J. Caparas, et al.).

2. On one hand is noted illustrator Gerry Alanguilan's vociferous objections against CJC's selection all collected here.

3. On the other hand, some discussion over here has led to some interesting observations with the original poster Deus Arquera and local firebrand Adam David actually taking the position that CJC is eligible to be selected as National Artist for Visual Arts (i.e. komiks or comics).

a) though Adam does convey his opinion against the whole show here (which Deus also affirms in the said post).

4. I tried to integrate the two discussions together by raising it in the comments, i.e:
a) Gerry Alanguilan raised some pertinent elements on the difference between art forms especially with regard to comics... I see your point in raising comparisons with architecture, film, etc. However, I also see Gerry’s point. My question is: are apples and oranges the same? (That is, should the comparisons apply given that these are different forms of art?)

b) We know the contributions of all artists have equal merit. However, in the aforementioned discussion in Gerry Alanguilan’s blog, it was mentioned that though CJC came up with the idea of Panday, it was the illustrator who came up with the look that’s etched into the masses’ mind. And how about the role of FPJ as the movie-version of Panday? Does that count?

I guess my question is: does the sole merit of an artwork lie in the one who conceptualized/created the idea or the one who translates it? And what happens when the translation becomes more popular than the creation?

5. Deus' answers my first question with:
a) Gerry Alanguilan’s argument is that the executors, like (National Artist for Scupture Arturo) Luz’s carpenters, have no room for interpretation, which I disagree with. The executors aren’t machines, so how can there not be some degree of interpretation? There is no such thing as absolute, total control over the creative process.
6. While Adam states (in vernacular, translated to English):
a) What I contest about Sir Gerry's call is the exclusivist compartamentalist view of creation. It seems like you're saying the contribution of merit in the growth of a tree is the water and not the sun or soil or care. Deus' point and my point as well is that not only the water or sun or soil or care makes the tree grow: all of this contributes in its growth regardless if it's an apple tree or an orange tree.
7. What do you people think? Who has merit of contribution in particular art forms?

8. Personally, I don't think I can subscribe to the viewpoint of the duo given that though Adam's observations may be correct, it still doesn't take into account the weight of the contribution. I mean, haven't we all heard of the oft-repeated saying "ideas are a dime a dozen" in writing? Isn't the effort, the execution rather than the conception that matters? And my flash fic "Black Worms" as a movie would be so much smoke if it weren't for Khavn's efforts.

9. From what I heard, CJC doesn't do much in terms of storyboarding. I'm not sure about preliminary sketches. So if we were to understand the problem, we have to ask: did CJC come up with the idea of his creations only or did he have other input?

10. For my second question, Deus answers:
a) That would be one of my questions as well, actually, which is why I am being ambivalent on the case of Caparas. It’s not as if we can readily quantify the contributions of the collaborators to a given creative project—assuming it is even possible. Hence, all this talk involving rigid, supposedly self-evident, supposedly logical, categories disturbs me, because these categories are not rigid, self-evident, or logical—they are arbitrary ones that a particular set of people has chosen to establish instead of others. “The Analytical Language of John Wilkins” by Borges is helpful in this regard.
11. Likewise, Adam sez:
a) That's what happened to Superman, didn't it? We all know Superman now doesn't rely on the pure concept of Siegel and Schuster, but on the overall whole mythology that's 70 years old, and what we know of Supermean now is not original to the intent of S&S (from flying to his kryptonite weakness). Once we apply this to our question, the purist argument collapses to Caparas' being qualified (for the award).

My answer there is that there is no single one who can take the entire (credit) on one thing especially if we're talking about a (collaborating) work, whether it's by intent (comics) or not (movie adaptation)...

... And the flaw of the apples and oranges analogy is that comics are a hybrid artform. It's an "applorange". And again, why should we compartmentalize things?
12. I would agree with Deus that this is an interesting question indeed, the tricky area of translations and renditions. One of my favorite books is a book by the Argentinean writer Angelica Gorodischer, Kalpa Imperial. It's wonderfully-written-- and it's translated into English by Ursula K. Le Guin. You have to wonder what would the creative sharing in translations: am I enjoying the prose because of Gorodischer or because Le Guin?

14. On the other hand, my perspective on Adam's point is that: I think it's a lot more complicated than that. For example, the superhero comicbook named Miracle Man was penned first by Alan Moore and then later by Neil Gaiman. However, before these writers came on-board, Miracle Man was originally a second-rate copy of Captain Marvel called 'Marvel Man'. Who remembers that first (original) version?

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