This weeks Kick About over on Red’s Kingdom is a spooky one! The words read as follows “listen to them them, children of the night. What music they make” adopted from Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897) – it is no wonder the offerings from artists of all mediums took a more sinister turn. With my own submission I decided to paint over photography from a mystifying land in rural Ireland – the same forest that I recollected upon with this earlier post from last year. Inspired by the stagnant stillness of nature in the night when the ghouls and ghosts come out to play… and also boisterous teenagers. Where there are no street lights and only the little tufts of smoke from chimney spouts signify life. The thick fog and heavy mist hiding and shielding much of what you should see, like a visceral view of brain fog. But still, in that forest, our imaginations would always be lit ablaze. Some would say we were the children of the night.
Giant in a Jar “Souvenir” – Making of #2 – The Props
Previous to my last post now that I knew the print was a fail and that I would rely on the edit to superimpose my head in the jar I started setting up the scene with the manner of props. I relied on a bunch of different things to achieve the final output, to get the jars filled with vivid colour like that of an alchemists apothecary I used yellow and red food colouring, a few drops was all that was needed to turn the clear water into a garish blood and greenish goo. I also used a trick I knew from creating my own halloween costumes as a young lad that was obsessed with zombies by combining corn syrup with red food colouring to make a blood like consistency as well as water colour paint for some different coloured jars and a tattered wig.
Lighting the scene was extremely important as I wanted it to reflect the coloured lighting seen in many horror and slasher films. I relied on bicycle lamps, head lamps and little fairy lights that were the saving grace that I bought for the upcoming short film – The Lighthouse Keeper. the lights were hidden behind the jars and behind angles behind the camera, the same red gel and crumpled it over one of the head lamps to give the a more reddish hue. I accidentally broke the main head jar a few weeks ago and it actually worked out in my favour as it was leaking the entire time but it added more of a theatrical sheen to the gloss of the table top which meant that the light bounced off the surface more.
One of my desks that usually contains most of my plants has a little hole in it – I would assume for cables and wires, I wanted to take advantage of this and place a light underneath the hole so that it projected though the largest head jar and light it up from underneath, with initial tests I had to put the timer of my camera on to ten seconds and quickly duck under the desk and hold the light up to get it just right However, I did manage to eventually wedge the light in between a wooden slat so that I didn’t have to stick my lanky self under the desk which was a win in itself, here is a not so glamours behind the scenes look at what that looked like.
The scene was now set, One of the most enjoyable aspects was experimenting with the lighting and placing the jars in places that reflected and bounced the light, all the while taking a plethora of photos from a range of angles.
Giant in a Jar “Souvenir” – Making of #1 – The Head
Previous to my last post with this weeks prompt over on Red’s Kingdom being “Souvenir” here I document the process of achieving such a grisly scene with my mug in a jar and various stumps and limbs being plopped into fluids as a cute keepsake. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors that has gone into creating the scene which I will get into, but first it needs to be explained the trials and tribulations of inserting my head into the jar in the first place. Because I didn’t want to rely too heavily on the edit, I decided to shoot the photos of me for the head with the red coming from dramatic lighting rather than editing. I simply tied a red gel cellophane sheet around one of my standing lamps to turn my room into a makeshift darkroom and continued to make myself look hideous by pulling faces all the while smushing my face against the glass of a picture frame to get the perfect ghastly shot and mimic as if my head was pressed against the inside of the jar. It was tricky at times because I had to angle the glass correctly so that the viewfinder and various screens and lamps would not obstruct the shot of my face and end up having to edit those reflections out. Here are some photos that did and didn’t make the cut. Enjoy.
For anyone that is reading this that isn’t familiar with 3D texture unwrapping, basically I used one of the above photos as the “centre piece” and then in photoshop I stitched together a left side and a separate right side shot of my head into one merged image. I did this so that when I printed the resulting image out it could be physically bended in a cylindrical curved shape and placed into the jar and behave like a real head.
I created an edit of the red to give the option of a sickly yellow and green.
However, my roommates printer started to run out of ink while printing and the A4 paper was too small, the ears and side of my head also needed be closer to the middle and I wasn’t going to use all his printer ink on my printing out my face. To alleviate the paper turning to mush inside the jar I was going to carefully stick strips of sellotape across the page to seal it in, although I kind of liked the thought of seeing what it would look like disintegrating. I knew I could get the results I wanted by manipulating the head photos in photoshop on top of the plate image of the scene and not have to print anything out but I wanted to give a whirl to the print out method.. and maybe pull a prank or two…
In the next post on Gentle Giant I will go into detail about the plethora of props used for the final scenes. Stay tuned.
“Souvenir” – Giant in a Jar
With this weeks prompt over on Red’s Kingdom being “Souvenir“ I don’t know about anyone else but I have felt a shift in the air with things starting to feel more autumnal and I always connect this time of year with the cosiest of films. I may have been watching too many of the horror and slasher type, but with this prompt my head went straight to the macabre. There was lots of trickery and doing and trying with this project, I will be sharing all the fun revolving around the in’s and out’s of how I got the resulting photographs up to this point in the coming days. Stay tuned.
“Work from Home” – Photography Contest
I usually do not share photos of myself here but I wanted to share this photo for a competition entitled “People at work” with Art Full Frame. The Contest description reads as “During this year due to the pandemic everything has changed, our habits, our way of approaching life and our way of working.People across the globe are trying to get back to normal. We are gradually taking back possession of our lives with many of us going back their work place.
Many have converted their homes into offices, whilst others have been forced to change their working practices to accommodate the new Covid safe procedures. Just to mention a few with restaurants, shops and personal care. Some have even had to start all over again, whilst for others nothing has changed. With this photo contest we invite you to capture People at Work, before, during or after the pandemic. It is not important when the photos were taken, what we are interested in is looking at the world through your eyes.”
Inspired by the twisted landscapes of Alice in Wonderland and campy colourful slasher film posters my submission is a very tongue & cheek satirical view on the work from home aspect that has been implemented into many of our lives because of Covid -19. There has been times where my own home has felt like the enemy, times where I feel smothered by the four walls where I spend most days and where I could feel like my lanky limbs could burst through its fixtures at any moment. On numerous occasions I have felt like a digital detox is certainly needed – from the browsers and zoom calls, the terms, keywords and overabundant hypertext. I know a lot of us have felt like this, although many would wear a professional bravado when plugged in through zoom calls and meetings. But what goes on behind the screens? Are they wearing pants?
Snow and the Blue Room
A previous Kick About saw me reflect upon the uncanny nature distilled around my Dads basement with all its cellar dweller spiders and porcelain dolls. This same peculiar feeling residing in an old creaky house that has always felt under construction and will never be finished transpires throughout its mammoth 4 floors.
I stayed at my dads house in Ireland one night when the show was falling like thick ashes and as me and my brother drove to my Dads looking towards the blinding kaleidoscope of falling snow, I knew the thick snow was going to up the ante and stillness of my Dads with it feeling like a cotton blanket of insulation that quietens all. The fountain having an a new ashy extrusion and the cement lions on the pillars having a new white beard.
The only working shower is for some reason in the upstairs hallway with the blue room in particular feeling very ominous. There is a bright orange sink in the corner of the blue room with the buzz of a magnificent yellow shaver light that bounces off the walls and the vanity with the room being crammed with bric a brac and photos of our past; My Dad is a collector of sorts and takes pride in all the stuff he has collated throughout his travels, a story attached to each.
Above the door in every bedroom is a window and as my room felt crammed with things the only suitable place for the bed was near the door with the eerie window above it, as a young lad I always perceived some thing peering over those windows and watching as I slept, or tried too; the thing would move with the sound of the bubbling fish tank heard down the landing of the stairs with the light no longer as the black catfish cemented to the side of the tank watched on.
I ventured down the road to our neighbour Jonjo’s yard, hot spiced rum in hand where me and my cousins used to get up to all sorts of mischief and where the remnants of hideouts in the trees still remain – a nail here and a piece of weathered wood there. The yard lit in a brilliant orange light to illuminate the little huts like a beacon where calfing sheep or cattle used to give birth in the bitter Irish cold. The falling snow over my camera lens making it look like a bursting sun.
I’ve always appreciated the creepiness of my Dads house, it always sparks my imagination and even through it might seem unfriendly It’s just a facade, its warm, old and careworn. Although the basement is another kettle of fish, with it’s low ceilings you are likely to feel a sticky spider web stuck to your face. Just don’t turn the lights off, things come alive when you do that down there.