More concept art for Lustre Zeal. While attempting to try and develop the look and feel of the world the characters interact with I’ve also been trying to learn how to balance the aesthetics that I enjoyed while growing up with more modern sensibilities as copying the past because it was a simpler time won’t necessarily make you a better artist. If anything it just makes you look dated. Also development log.
Development Log 7.21.17
So between working on various pictures and time spent trying to piece my psyche back together, apparently the development of the self and the deconstruction of the ego can be arrested at various stages in the individuation process leading to psychoses that I’ve no doubt Freud would have had a field day with, I’ve been developing a model of thought based on the nature of the Artistic Identity, the use of Inner Vision and our relationship to the social forces present in Emotional Economies to achieve what Jung would term ‘a level of psychic functioning’ that allows me to ‘try and reach for an idea’ without relying on the Extension of Self, Embodied Presence, the Avatar State, or the Panopticon Effect.
Don’t know what any of those things are? Good, that saves me the trouble of trying to explain them because doing so would involve talking about higher-order thinking and metastrategic knowledge and I don’t feel like being here all day. Suffice it to say that the two most prevalent processes I’ve come across in terms of communicating the means by which an artist experiences the creative forces analogous to the ones they seek to convey is Method Acting and Stanislavski’s System, and I don’t think I need to tell you which is the one that I prefer. Or maybe I do because quite frankly Method Acting has some very scary side effects and has caused many an actor to come back as something other then themselves. Think Alia from Dune when she gives Baron Harkonnen a place in her mind after speaking with him in other memory. Yeah, not pretty. Anyway back to talking about Artistic Identities and whatnot. Because working on Lustre Zeal has involved making so many freaking design decisions, I’ve lost count at this point as the sheer complexity of the processes involved has forced me to seek out even greater levels of organization then the one’s I already rely on, I’ve had to focus more on a core set of techniques rather then my usual experimental and iterative explorations of various form languages. Good god that sentence was an absolute mouthful. Let’s try that again shall we. Because I prefer to draw characters with more realistic looking anatomy and proportions, I’ve had to focus on things like the Reilly Method of drawing for my use of construction, gesture drawing for establishing the pose, Frazetta’s Emotional Core for my relationships and blah, blah, blah for everything else. Seriously, do you think I’d actually sit here and list off every single artist, actor, animator or director whose work that I’ve studied in order to form the very foundation that I reach for when I sit down to draw? Well, I could, but it would be a fairly long list and a lot of the names would be Japanese so let’s just stick with the whole Artistic Identity and whatnot as the degree of knowledge involved in achieving the level of realism I desire is fairly high and requires an obscene amount of investment in terms of time and energy to actually learn. Having said that, because of the desire to establish one’s self both emotionally and mentally is a process of self-actualization, I figured that something similar must be happening whenever artists sit down to draw, writers write or musicians compose, if not only because such an identity allows us to establish our own individual presence in an Emotional Economy but because it also allows us to recognize the visual appeal of our work as well as further understand and define the form language we use to communicate our ideas with both our audience and our peers. A matter which is not helped much by the fact that the rites of passage artists undergo and the harrowing that we experience while setting out on such a path tend to have the unfortunate effect of either destroying our egos utterly or leaving us completely disillusioned by the nature of the realities we choose to engage with. The fact that I scare the absolute shit out of most people when I talk normally is something I’ve had to live with my entire life, so imagine my surprise when the art that I sought to create and the stories I started to tell became a reflection of the self I’d long sought to hide in order to pass off as normal. I don’t doubt Jung would refer to that as the Shadow seeking to express itself in an otherwise healthy way, but then again my pursuit of finding my own Self amidst the ruins of a life ruled over by the fear of what others cannot possibly imagine has been motivated more by a desire to end such intellectual isolation then anything else. Anyway, as an Artist and a Writer I have the freedom to act and think as I want without hindrance or restraint, but balance that with the need for a Persona which to embody and the need for an Artistic Identity becomes both an ego defence mechanism and a means of self expression. There are of course countless downsides to this as dissociation and supplantation can and do occur, watching that happen to celebrities is disturbing to say the least, but then knowing the risks lessens the dangers so there is that. That said the purpose that I had in seeking out the concept of the Artistic Identity was because I wanted a way to discuss the idea of developing one’s own Inner Vision without having to rely on the words ‘feeling’ or ‘style’ due to the incredibly vague connotations already associated with their use. Seriously, I hear those words used to describe everything related to art and it just grates against my mind because of how hollow and meaningless they are because if Art Deco is a style then no matter how much I may love it it isn’t my ‘style’ its a style that I ‘identify’ with. Don’t even get me started on ‘feeling,’ hoo boy, sensation is a much better word because not only can I externalize the concepts involved, I can internalize the information being gathered without harming my psyche in the process. But back to what I was originally saying, if we have an Internal Monologue, which can only be reported to exist as I know of no actual means by which to prove it exists save for maybe some form of telepresence or mind to machine transfer system, which in turn begs the question of machine learning and machine consciousness, it stands to reason that we also possess some form of Inner vision. By definition that would mean that if an Internal Monologue is about thinking in words, then Inner Vision is about thinking in pictures. Oh screw trying to dumb it down, there’s a mode of meditation used in Vajrayana Buddhism that uses fully realized forms and sophisticated visualization techniques to create art. The fact it can also be used to achieve a substitution effect using imagined experiences that evoke the same cognitive and phsyiological consequences as their corresponding real world counterparts is in my mind an unintended bonus. Though not one I would personally prefer to try and teach someone as you can see by anything I try to draw, its a process that leaves little room for error and can seriously mess you up if you aren’t aware of what the hell you’re doing and what’s going on. Seriously, ten years spent practicing a technique to achieve what people can experience in five minutes after eating a handful of mushrooms. Grumble, grumble, grumble . . . anyway, in order to differentiate one’s own Inner Vision from, say, Mental Images or Mental Representation, its important to begin by distinguishing the idea of Inner Vision from the mathematical models and the spatial awareness skills we use to visualize objects as when attempting to represent an imaginary object rather then say, trying to recollect an object from memory in order to construct it, we rely on different visual processes to access and interact with the information in question. Which is to say that copying, transferring, transposing and transubstantiation all describe varying levels and degrees of the qualities we wish to ascribe to an object or form. Or in other words a sword can change its appearance to match its setting without altering its basic properties and still be recognized as a sword in spite of the differences between the artist’s mental image of a sword and the way it appears in their own Inner Vision. And if that sounded confusing try applying the concept to architecture and you’ll start to understand why so many artists default to the known forms that they’ve grown up with if only because doing so prevents them from experiencing the kind of trepidation and fear that comes from crossing through Liminal Space. Even I struggle with that one as the number of social constructs and intergenerational gaps that have created new and unprecedented chilling effects increase I find myself wondering what fresh new hell the masses have decided to pass off as popular opinion and commonly held belief. But then again the conflict that exists between attempting to establish one’s own identity by rejecting the value systems of those who came before and the realization of one’s own agency in a vanishing world is nothing new, its simply happening much faster now. Anyway, back to my point about developing one’s Inner Vision, when we look for the primary influences that serve as the basis for the way we attempt to visualize objects, I found that focusing on those experiences that serve as our introduction to a work tend to form the foundation we unconsciously reach for when we draw as not only do they often have largest amount of emotional investiture but the degree of familiarity with the subject matter cannot be matched by the increasingly complex mental and emotional needs imposed upon us by the realities present in an adult world. Or in other words, the reason why the things we enjoyed as children absorbed us so completely is because the fabric of the social realities they presented us with served as a means of translating the elaborate social constructs of the adult worlds around us in a way that allowed us to relate to the events and forces that were shaping the geopolitical landscape of the time. The reason that I say this is because when I look back at many of the cartoons I grew up with I find myself seeing references to things that only those of us who were adults at the time would’ve recognized or even cared about. And this is in no way an isolated phenomena as not only is it present in my own work, but a few of the more recent cartoons that I’ve seen seem to be trying to reach a point where they appeal to both children and adults in a way that encourages parents to watch them with their kids so something to root for I suppose. That said, whenever I try to reach for an image in my mind that fits the parameters I’ve set in terms of design, I’ve found that comparing and contrasting it against things that already exist in reality is the only way to anchor the idea in a tangible way as asking myself to try and direct my own attention towards a certain emotion, theme, mood or even concept is all but impossible without associating my intent with some other established work. I suppose if I were to try and put it into words, its basically the difference between drawing, designing, and development. When I draw, I work from memory, when I design something I work from either an emotional intent or a previously established concept, when developing a novel or an illustration, I work with either a composition in mind or a set of parameters that in turn serve to define the work. Case in point when trying to visualize the Tower of Zeal I needed something that was simple enough to draw over and over again, and yet different enough from the rest of the surrounding architecture that no one would ever mistake it for having been built by the local population. Seeing that in my own mind on the other hand meant I couldn’t rely on simply trying to copy pre-existing objects or styles even though doing so helps to familiarize us with the form language that human’s use to try and express concepts like reverence and worship. That and ornamentation, people love ornamentation to the point that it is rare to see a truly blank surface anywhere in art or architecture. Anyway, I think that’s enough rambling from me. As I said I’m still trying to develop the concept of the Artistic Identity and the function of Inner Vision so if I’m even less coherent then usual that would be why. Until next time folks, have a good one.