John Miers: Babel
Where: The Fleapit, 49 Columbia Road, London
When: November 15 to December 13, 2009
John studied fine art at London’s Slade school and Chelsea college, publishing his first mini-comics on graduation, and has since then been active as a cartoonist, illustrator, and teacher of art and graphic design. His comics work is primarily wordless, and concerned with the formal properties of this rapidly-developing artform, taking a particular interest in the unique processes of signification employed by comics in their blurring of the traditional boundaries between image and text.
The project aims to make explicit the formation of a pictorial language through the depiction of the gradual development of vocabulary and syntax, and to highlight links with historical forms of visual storytelling through the use of Medieval formats and methods of organising pictorial space, and pictographic functions drawn from Cuneiform and Egyptian Hieroglyphs.
The story of the Tower of Babel appears in Genesis chapter 1. Each panel of the project interprets one of the verses. Although each panel works as a complete image, they are intended to be read in sequence:
Panels 1-5 describe the developing complexity of spoken language and the technological advancements, and ambition, this facilitates, culminating in the building of the Tower.
Panels 6 and 7 depict God’s fear of humanity’s growing ambition, and his attempt to check it by confusing their language and cattering them across the globe.
The final two panels suggest that this fragmenting of language, rather than curtailing humanity, actually serves to equip us with a richer diversity of expression.
John was invited to present this exhibition, Babel, as a guest artist at the 2009 International Comic Arts Forum held in October at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, an annual academic conference dedicated to promoting the scholarly study and appreciation of comic art.
Panel seven of the nine-panel project was the winning entry in Don’t Panic magazine’s ‘Power’ competition.
John is also the winner of the 2009 Digital Artist award for Web and Interactive Design for his website, www.johnmiers.com.