The "generators of abstraction" xyz chart above is by artblog godfather Dennis Hollingsworth. If you haven't checked out his balance of insight, slapstick, schmoozing, and painting, click on this sentence. Dennis' quick graph is similar to the Munsell color system in its awkward two dimensional representation.I have been imagining Dennis' system as a construction of some kind. Similar to the Munsell tree.
Imagine a tree where the tints and shades are replaced by slides of historical examples. Scott McCloud has been working on certain branches of this tree for over 15 years. I'm going to quote from McCloud's site now:
In Chapter Two of my 1993 book Understanding Comics, I devised a map of visual iconography (i.e., pictures, words, symbols) that took the shape of a triangle.
The lower left corner was visual resemblance (e.g., photography and realistic painting).
The lower right included the products of what I called iconic abstraction (e.g., cartooning)
And at the top were the denizens of the picture plane ("pure" abstraction) which ceased to make reference to any visual phenomena other than themselves.
The move from realism to cartoons along the bottom edge was a move away from resemblance that still retained "meaning," so words, the next logical step in the progression, were included at far right, thereby enclosing anything in comics' visual vocabulary between the three points.
I found that "The Big Triangle" as it came to be known, was an interesting tool for thinking about comics art...
...and for visual art and language in general! Eventually, I hope to include a Java-enabled interactive version of Triangle here on the site, but until then, feel free to "interact" with Understanding Comics to find out more.
(You can check out Scott McCloud's site here).
I can't seem to answer Richard's question as to what the third variable would be on a political compass however. Fashion? Ego? Taste? Intention? I'm sure we will have software soon that will allow us to create our own compasses. Just plug in the variables and a globe is created.