Panoramic culture

Virtual Reality in the Age of Panoramas: Mapping out buildings, a village, capitals, and Hell

[Dix-Neuf, Journal of the Society of Dix-Neuxiémistes, Vol. 20, 2016, Issue 2]

05-dapfrontAbstract: This paper follows a network of correspondences across media and technologies in nineteenth-century visual culture that developed alongside realism in literature and painting. The path they plot out at the intersection of panoramic literature, the diorama, and optical technology grants us insight into how notions of simulation we associate with computer-generated virtual reality coalesced in various combinations and perspectives during that era.

The article notes the role played by the motif of the devil in that process, cross-section representations of urban dwellings, and stereoscopic tours of actual and virtual spaces. It aims to make the case that the thematic and topographic breadth of some Second-Empire photographic tours mapped out broad virtual territories, offering 3D immersion, extensive contiguity, and cross-referencing as a first step towards the seamless continuity of digital environments.

09-diableries

Fig. 1: J. J. Grandville [Jean Ignace Isidore Gérard]. Illustrations from Un autre monde (1843) recycled in Pierre-Jules Hetzel, ed. 1868. Le Diable à Paris. Paris et les Parisiens à la plume et au crayon. Vol. I. Paris: Hetzel, pp. 46-47. Source: Gallica.

Fig. 2: Two stereocards from Diableries ou Voyages dans l’autre monde (ca 1870). Paris: Block.
1. La Loterie infernale. Louis Alfred Habert. 1868.
2. Cabinet d’étude de satan. Pierre Adolphe Hennetier. 1860.

 

Généalogie du texte illustré robidien : l’héritage de la littérature panoramique

[Forthcoming conference proceedings publication]

Un goût certain pour les perspectives d’ensemble ressort des titres de Robida. Pour les deux tiers, soit près d’une trentaine, le dénominateur commun en est le concept d’inventaire. Que leur portée soit historique, futuriste, documentaire ou satirique, ces ouvrages offrent des panoramas. Pour bien saisir son œuvre dans son contexte culturel et médiatique de production, il semble donc pertinent de la recadrer dans cette perspective panoramique.

Nous effectuerons donc un survol généalogique à rebours. En effet, un certain nombre de motifs de science-fiction communément associés à la verve créatrice de Robida reposent sur un fonds de récits d’anticipation qui s’est sédimenté tout au long du siècle et qui procède du modèle panoramique de la littérature utopique. De même, dans un cadre plus formel et quelque peu négligé par la recherche sur Robida, nous verrons que la dynamique texte / image qui caractérise sa trilogie vingtiémiste s’inscrit dans l’optique de la vignette romantique et de la revue – dans tous les sens du terme – illustrée française telle qu’elle a vu le jour au début des années 1830.

Les recoupements et échos entre textes, verbaux ou picturaux, évoqués tout au long de cet essai suggèrent que la science fiction de Robida reconfigure des éléments d’une culture panoramique qui se combinaient déjà entre eux à travers genres et médias depuis le siècle des Lumières, cristallisés dans leur dimension visuelle par la culture de l’imprimé des décennies romantiques.

Cartooning in the Age of Realism: Rediscovering Léonce Petit’s ‘Les bonnes gens de province’ & ‘Histoires campagnardes’

[Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide. Vol. 14, ISSUE 3 (Autumn 2015)]

Abstract: Léonce Petit stands out for broadening the horizon of cartooning, both figuratively and literally. Recognized as a master in capturing the essence of rural life in lithographs and comic strips, Petit introduced landscape art and a fresh outlook on country folks to press cartooning. From 1863 to 1884, he delivered his gentle satire through a series of genre scenes known as Les bonnes gens de province (the good people of our provinces) and comic strips published as Histoires campagnardes (country tales). His captioned genre scenes were more poetic and naturalistic than the rest of the Journal amusant that hosted them; they swarm with action in comparison with the pictorial physiologies that had preceded them for three decades. His comic strips carried a sense of realism that did not exist in a narrative form then focused on caricatural characters.

This article highlights the singularity of Petit’s visual/textual narrative strategies and examines his work in relation to its cultural environment. Petit’s cartooning is relevant to issues at the core of today’s research on the comic strip, but his memory was not always kept well. This study notably aims to rectify an unreliable characterization that has followed his remembrance since the turn of the twentieth century. We retrace the evolution of his work and map out a network of influences and confluences in cartooning, literature, and painting that make it a rare body of poetic realism for nineteenth-century word/image studies. In the end, Léonce Petit’s work is a largely unrecognized landmark in French-language comic-strip history and in the history of cartooning as a whole.