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Having not read either the original Paul Auster trilogy, of which City of Glass was the first, or this graphic novel adaptation which I found, I am unsure which to start with. It seems natural to start with the pure words and powerful narrative which the novel is described as so you can then form your own images and characters from what the author has given you for clues, and thus you pay attention to every detail to further describe the sketches in your mind. But what if you began with the graphic novel, the adaptation. What would differ in the experience and can you compare one to the other as ‘better’ or ‘worse’.

This in essence is the question that has troubled lovers of the written word since the Daguerreotype and Calotype processes were invented to create frozen images of life with the camera. The now commonplace discussion after a film adaptation of a book is released is does the experience compare, does it live up to the book, are the actors and director doing the original work justice? How relevant are these questions though as they are fundamentally different products, albeit about the same thing.

The world we are living in today is an image saturated envrionment. Images catch the eye and are more easliy remembered than advertising copy, even when spoken or sung. This of course leads to an industry striving to create the most unique, memorable images or scenes for mixed media campaigns and these creations pour out into our lives as we pass around, through, under and above them. These images become the spaces we inhabit, they are the shouty shouty man ranting about ‘cillit BANG’ which defens our domestic home; they are kate moss lounging along the gable end of our terrace.

But has this saturation become such that we except it and see it as normal now, we have lived with it for long enough for it to become uninteresting, we expect it and thus cease to notice it. Just as the Perec quote from the previous blog highlighted the idea of the permanent adornment of walls as an invisible exercise, especially in the domestic space, so the advertising world are stuggling to make the impact they had maybe 20 or 30 years ago when the density of all this was much lower.

Can we then move on to think about what this means for the narrative, the use of words and writing to describe space more emotively. The graphic novel adaptation of Auster’s book is certainly a work of great skill and design, but can it ever have the same impact to people who live with images of every concievable kind all around them demanding attention and of which they take no notice. Do we now not need a different approach to space so we can understand it and allow us to see and use it as it really is.

This is how space begins, with words only, signs traced on the blank page. To describe space; to name it, to trace it, like those portolano-makers who saturated the coastlines with the names of harbours, the names of capes, the names of inlets, until in the end the land was only separated from the sea by a continuous ribbon of text. Is the aleph, that place in Borges from which the entire world is visible simultaneously, anything other than an alphabet?” Georges Perec, Species of spaces and other pieces


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