Looking back at the last year of my work, it appears fairly sporadic and erratic in content and ideas. But I think that the projects I chose to work on helped me improve on specific aspects of my practice. They were all tied together by aspects of my dissertation, and although the project that I have ended up with is not directly linked in subject matter, I have found that they both lent themselves to a particular way of working, and similar research philosophies.
My first project was an exercise in skill building, and I believe that I improved massively in my visual language, pacing, and methodology. Last year my main issue with my work was that I rushed it, and I really tried hard to take my time with this project, and I think it paid off. The subject matter didn’t have enough ideas and thought behind it, though it was fairly relevant to my dissertation, and I decided to change course.
I moved on to looking at various cautionary tales, and the tropes and themes of them, like gluttony and forbidden knowledge. I was really intrigued by the cyclical nature of transgression and punishment, and how we seem intent on ironic retributions. I tried to get this across in my work, and created simple, abstract images and animations that delivered the messages of the cautionary tales I was reading. I also started to consider more the materials that I was using, and what they meant for the communication of the work. I specifically looked at The Brothers Quay when I was thinking about how I wanted my work to speak through texture and materiality. I found that during this project I really got to grips with thinking more thoroughly about what my illustrations communicated, and what I was interested in exploring through visual means.
After looking at horror, cautionary tales, and cyclical punishments, I found a narrative that really spoke to me about all of these themes I’d been investigating. In Dante’s Inferno I found all of these subjects. But I still felt that I needed to have a deeper meaning behind what I wanted to show within the narrative of the poem, as well as relate it back to my dissertation.
I thought about what I had most enjoyed about writing my dissertation, and decided it had been the Freudian concepts that I had explored and considered, as well as older psychoanalytic theories about how and why we viewed the world how we do.
When I first researched if there had been any Freudian readings of the Divine Comedy, i found that there had been many comparing the levels of Dante’s hell, to Freud’s diagram of the levels of the subconscious. I found that really interesting, and was set on making a parallel of the two.
I’m happy with what I created, and I think that the narrative is subtle, how I wanted it, and also intriguing. I think that perhaps I got a little caught up in how I was presenting it, and the work suffered because of it. I know that if I had planned and sketched more, it would have looked better, but I’ve barely managed to get it all done in time anyway!
So this is how the model for my final box looks. I’m really glad I added the light, because it looks a lot better now. Also the interactiveness is something I wanted right from the beginning. The ice doesn’t look exactly how I wanted it, but I’m still fairly happy.
This box is supposed to be the climax of the narrative, and it’s the first one that shows an outright conflict. The gates of Dis in the last box, is to separate passive transgressions and active transgressions. And I think that the difference between them, is the inclusion of the Superego. If I get time, I want to animate these guys, I think it’d look really cool.
Also, here’s a better picture of my Gluttony box;
This is a terrible photo. It looks better in real life I swear! I struggled to press the button for the light, hold the lights in the right place, and take the photo. And there’ll be less background light when the frame on the front goes on, so there’ll be a shadow of it’s mouth on the back wall. And also, in real life you can look around and see the middle head of the Cerberus. Also, the tail is really straight, and I’ve only just realised.
Now that I’ve gotten all the excuses out of the way I can actually talk about the work.
This is to represent gluttony, and in the poem, Cerberus guards the souls who are lying in the mud. I just wanted a simple model, so I focused on Cerberus. The three snarling heads brings focus on the mouth, and I’ve added drool coming out of all their mouths. I’ve drawn even more attention to the mouths, by casting the shadow of one of them on the back wall.
The idea behind the Betrayal layer of the story is based off the part of the poem where Dante comes across two heads protruding from the ice, and one is biting the other. In life the bitten one betrayed the other, and now they are locked together forever.
I thought it was apt for my interpretation because the idea of heads biting each other really hints at the the story being about the mind and unconscious. The ice as well has a meaning; It’s a nod towards the idea of the mind being an iceberg, mostly underneath the surface, and also the incorrect notion of the subconscious being this unmovable force, when in reality, it’s a shifting, and changeable part of consciousness, the modern notion of the “adaptive unconscious”.
I wasn’t very happy with what I’d created for my styx layer. It was ok in composition and colour, and I’d liked the boat and the character, but the background had been way too flat and light, and the stalagmites weren’t brilliant. I’d experimented with using silicon sealant to make them, hoping that they would let light through and look ghostly, but they didn’t. In this one I have instead used papier mache to make the stalagmites bigger and as if they are connected to the ceiling (I believe they are called pillars when a stalagmite and stalactite connect). I think it looks a lot grander. I also papier mached the back, and used acrylic paint instead of water colour to get a more solid layer. I think there’s a lot more depth to this gif, and I much prefer the colours and how the water moves when his rowing stick (?) goes through the hair gel (that’s what the water is made out of). I also am very proud of the way the light reflects off the water. I hope people notice it.
But how does this fit within the story, the rest of the boxes, and the concept of the subconscious? This section of the story is supposed to represent the journey through the brain, the exploration of the subconscious that Freud was so intrigued by. The light at the front at the boat is both the illumination of knowledge, and also the supposed purity of the Super Ego.
I like to think about what Freud would see if he saw this gif. He would probably comment on the phallic imagery of the staff and the pillars. And also perhaps the shapes in the background and placement of the farthest stalactite.
I’m having an issue, and that issue is that one of my boxes is not fit for display.
It really does look terrible, and I’m not sure how to fix it. I don’t want to display anything that isn’t up to standard. I’d rather not have a show, than a poor quality one. I might try to take it out and re do it, but at this point Ive accepted that I might only have 8 boxes at the end, which is not what I wanted. I’ll try again, but I’m not holding out much hope. I think a start would be printing a digital version of the sky I wanted, rather than trying to paint it.
After a talk with Amelia I decided that I should have lights in the boxes with models in. A lot of my work is about the strong contrast of light and shadow, and the models speak best when they are lit dramatically. I had some buttons that were threaded with a nut at the back so that they could screw into a hole, so I drilled some holes in my boxes (really carefully as the models were already glued down!), and wired some LEDs in. The battery packs and light bulbs will be hidden by a frame around the sides of the box, that also serves the purpose of hiding the scenes within, unless you are looking into them.