There is a fine line between what we call reality and “fiction”, and all these what is between resides in what we call, unconventionally, “the past”. It is a common human experience to recall something that was not there, or things we have never seen. In “What It Is”, Lynda Barry questions (and challenges us to question, in turn) “formless things which give form”, or “images”. In cut-and-glue style collages, she invites us to put together our own definitions of the following questions; what is an image? Where, and what is our imagination? And how do these things continue to live inside us despite having “passed”.
The artistic style of “What It Is” can be described by Ellen Upton’s and Jennifer Cole Phillips’ “Graphic Design: The New Basics”. The concept of “formstorming”-or a way of visualizing abstract concepts into different arrangements-relates to the way Barry designs her pages about concepts like image. For example, the page to the right, “What is an experience?” shows a variety of images and words. She can not tell us for sure what an experience is, so she poses different questions to guide us in creating our own meaning. Images like the creature on the left might remind us of a fearful moment, and the images of bicycles might take us back to the time we learned how to ride one.