Saturday, 6 June 2015

Structures 35-45: Patrick Kyle on Nightmarish Visions of a Distorted Reality

Reaching Upwards
As I exit my apartment to go to work in the morning, I look across the street and see a family happily walking by the empty park: a mother and a father, casually walking near the park with their young boy. I turn back toward the door, pull out my keys and lock the door. When I turn back, the father and mother are rapidly crossing the street heading towards me. They are no longer smiling and their teeth have been replaced by razor-like fangs. Their eyes are black but, there are some subtle shades of burgundy running throughout. The older man raises his arms and points his fingers towards me. I stand, unable to move, as they close in a few feet from me and I wake up. It was only a nightmare; albeit a really bad one. One that starts with something familiar and eases its way into unspeakable horrors. It happens quickly or slowly depending on the night. It is that proximity and familiarity that gives those dreams their weight. The unknown is scary, but when the unknown creeps up to replace the familiar, it is terrifying. 

Several people holding hands in a circle in a park somewhere in a neighbourhood in the city you live in but not in the neighbourhood you live in

This is how you will feel when you read Structures 35-45, the fourth mini-comic from Uncivilized Books' series Structures. In this series, various artists are contributing various structures or objects in a mini-comic format. I still haven't seen the first issue (Structures 1-11 by Tom Kaczynski) but I have had the pleasure to read and review the other issues (Structures 12-23 by Vincent Stall and Structures 24-34 from Michael Deforge).

Patrick Kyle creates a world where the familiar is twisted slightly (sometimes drastically) into abstraction. The structure of the book is simple: there is a block of text on the left and an illustration on the right. Kyle casually describes scenes from a distorted reality in his text and we are left to make sense of what his illustration means and how it relates to what is said. He depicts things you can almost recognize, but not quite. Is this a table or a bed frame? Are there sheets or tablecloth floating over it or are they suspended in the air in a chandelier? I am looking at a park? Does it matter? I recognize the lower half of the image, the foundation, but everything above it is distorted. The familiar acting as a pillar to the unknown. It is not horror, just a nightmare. And like the best nightmares, you remember it long after you encounter them.

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