Different Narrative methods

Different Narrative methods

“On Modes of Visual Narration in Early Buddhist Art” - Vidya Dehejia

The Art Bulletin, Vol. 72, No.3. (Sep., 1990), pp. 374-392.



1. Monoscenic Narratives: The Theme of Action

The monoscenic mode centers around a single event in a story, one that is generally neither the first nor the last, and which introduces us to a theme of action. Such a scene is usually an easily identifiable event from a story, and it serves as a reference to the narrative.

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2. Synoptic Narratives

In the synoptic mode of narration, multiple episodes from a story are depicted within a single frame, but their temporal sequence is not communicated, and there is no consistent or formal order of representation with regard to either causality or temporality.

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3. Conflated Narrative

Conflated narrative is complementary to the synoptic mode, with which it shares many features . However, while multiple episodes of a story or multiple scenes of an episode 2o Brilliant (as inn. 2), 18. are presented, the figure of the protagonist is conflated instead of being repeated from one scene to the next; this characteristic overlapping manner of presentation undermines temporal succession even further.

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4.  Continuous Narrative

Continuous narratives depict successive episodes of a story, or successive events of an episode, within a single frame, repeating the figure of the protagonist in the course of the narrative.

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 5. Linear Narrative: The Frieze

Linear narrative, 22 like continuous narrative, contains the repeated appearance of the protagonist at different times and places; the distinction between these modes is compositional in nature, and revolves around enframement. In continuous narrative, temporal development is to be understood by means of intrinsic criteria, and requires, on the part of the viewer, an integrating effort of mind and eye. In linear narrative, on the other hand, extrinsic criteria are used to demarcate temporal divisions. Scenes are separated from one another by a variety of compositional means, and generally each episode is contained within a separate frame. The viewer does not find the reappearance of the protagonist in each unified setting illogical or inconsistent, as he may do in continuous narrative. In linear narrative, each scene is a unit in itself; each event occurs at one particular moment, in one particular space.