Earth Day reminded me of a wonderful graphic narrative by Vincent Stall I found lurking on the shelves at a record store in Denver, Colorado a few years ago: Things You Carry (2011). Published by 2D Cloud, an independent Xomics/comics press out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Things You Carry graphically portrays a wordless, faceless humanoid's quest for connection in an environment as vibrantly alive as it is. The character flows, morphs, and reconfigures its passage through a world on the edge of being overrun by unidentifiable fragments. But the character's quest sidesteps an overt doom and gloom commentary, because it seeks connection with both the astronaut it encounters and the similitude of its body to the gomi of its world.
One of the things I most enjoy about Things You Carry is Stall's transformation of the images and textures of the book into wooden form. In the video below, many of the prints in the book became acrylic paintings on rough particle board or 2X4 sculptures at an installation at CO Exhibitions. Stall's translation process from word to wood is a vivid meditation on vital materialism, and it poses an important question, "when we aestheticize our relationship with the planet, what is the difference between representing the vitality of matter and simply personifying it"? Much of the detritus in Things You Carry self-organizes throughout the book, assembling, reassembling, and proliferating through Stall's detailed sketches into humanoid and nonhuman configurations. The intimacy in these transformative relationships between human and nonhuman in Things You Carry helps me remember the uncanny, exciting, and impersonal moments when the world seems the most alien, and at the same time, the most immanent.