Jochen Gerner was a founding member of the OuBaPo (Ouvroir de Bande Dessinée Potentiele - or, the Workshop for Potential Comics, best represented in the US by Matt Madden, Jason Little and Tom Hart). Modeled after the OuLiPo (Ouvroir de Literature Potentielle - workshop for potential literature) created by Raymond Queneau, the OuBaPo aimed to explore new ground for comics using, paradoxically, constraints as a creative motor. The OuBaPo published four books to date (the last one in 2004) all by the dominating force behind the project, Jean-Christophe Menu and L'Association publishing house. Even if engaged in other projects the work of Jochen Gerner is never very far from OuBaPian creative processes.
Les Vacances de l'OuBaPo (the vacations of the OuBaPo), Oupus 3, L'Association, October 2000, illustration by Jochen Gerner.
In Panorama du feu Jochen Gerner chose visual rhymes (airplanes or trucks in all the panels, for instance). He also favored more abstract images and close-ups.
Airplanes (in perfect order and in chaos) in booklet # 40 of Panorama du feu, L'Association, September 2010: visual rhymes.
Given the fact that Jochen Gerner reduced whole stories to a few panels it's no surprise that many make little sense letting the reader with the strange sensation that something incomprehensible is going on (cf. below: infra-narrativity).
Betty and Veronica run to join the French war effort during WWII? booklet # 33 of Panorama du feu, L'Association, September 2010: comicality undermines seriousness.
Page 38 of TNT en Amérique by Jochen Gerner, L'Ampoule, 2002.
Page 38 of Tintin in America as published in 1973 by Methuen (originally published in black and white in 1931 /32 and reworked by Hergé in 1946).
The general conclusion that we may extract from the TNT en Amérique example is that the two creative tactics described above (blacking-out and reduction) have the exact same result of reducing the deturned story to a skeleton.
On the left: page from Courts-circuits géographiques (geographical short-circuits), L'Association, 1997; on the right, the same page as reworked for XX/MMX, L'Association, 2010.
Malus by Jochen Gerner, Drozophile, 2002. A boon to a Ben-Day fetishist like me.
Left: Buck John # 105 (Buck Jones, I guess), Imperia, February, 1958; right: a deturned by black-out Buck John comic (not necessarily # 105, of course), Panorama du feu, L'Association, September 2010.
Up: Panorama du feu as exhibited in Anne Barrault's gallery, September 2009; down: Panorama du feu as a box containing fifty one booklets, L'Association, September 2010.
Salons de lecture, La Kunsthalle, Mulhouse, February 3 - April 3, 2011.
Here's Jochen Gerner's opinion:
Simply to place the boards adjacent to each other in a linear fashion is like trying to reproduce the phenomenon of reading a book. This can't be right. But the exhibition Reading Rooms plays effectively with the principle of the book on a flat surface. The effect in this exhibition is almost that of a wall placed horizontally on trestles. The exhibition design and the graphic systems used to mark the placement of the books, plus the captions printed on the table propel these books into another dimension.