Phantoms Of Surrealism

When reading about Sheila Legge’s inspiration behind her walking real life surrealist exhibition for this weeks Kick About and how she was so inspired by the paintings of Dalí, I decided to create some Dalí-esque dream-like landscapes while paying homage to Legge’s face full of flowers. The female models were downloaded and imported into Maya where on their heads I glued an abundance of multicoloured flowers- tiger Lilly’s, Dahlia’s, Delphinium’s, African Lilly’s and Daisy’s. Combined with a quick and dirty rig and skin of the figures as well as some mountains in the background to complete the scene and move the figures to my every whim. The rig on the figure on the left of the above image messed up and I loved how fluid and melty the resulting movements turned out – I tried to replicate this mistake with the other rigs but my efforts did not gratify, It was one of those moments where a mistake tuned out to be a blessing but could not be recreated.

This prompt also reminded me of one of my favourite films – Annihilation (2018). In particular when the team walk across a baron land called “The Shimmer” where their bodies start to turn into plant matter. It is a strange and beautiful film that left a lasting impression on me, much in the same respect that surrealist paintings do.

Painting With Light – Synesthesia #7

This weeks kick about over on Red’s Kingdom is the illuminating Lights by Marie Menken. I decided to share the last few bunch of long exposure painting with light experiments shot a while back, situated in one of the turrets of our house and framed with its long theatrical curtains. Sadly the owner of this room haphazardly ripped the curtains down and with it a lot of its impact so I am glad I made use of it before it became occupied.

Painting With Light – Synesthesia #6

Some further experiments of light painting photography taken from a while back. Situated in the middle arch of the high vaulted ceilings within our house, I like this spot a lot. I love how the arch frames the pool of light and how a sliver of light rims the skirting boards. I must admit while taking these photos it is easy to get spooked as the only light source was my makeshift bicycle light from which the light painting is born and while peering into the long pitch black corridors made it feel like at times I may not be alone, which only adds to the experience.

Painting with Light – Ghosts #1

While experimenting with the use of objects for painting with light (one being a food strainer which ultimately was a massive fail), I continued to rummage through our overloaded store room where all the amazon boxes and no longer needed shite is kept, searching for more things to encase with light. I did however come across a mannequin torso that belongs to my roommates girlfriend – a fashion student. I previously bought LED strips that were far too bright to give the impression I wanted, but I thought covering the majority of its shining output could work in my favour.

The mannequin has a hole through its body where you can attach a pole so that you can hang the mannequin and alter the garments with ease, I was able to stuff the LED lights into the mannequin through this hole and even though it is covered in thick styrofoam the mannequin was now lit up like a freakish beacon effigy. I wanted to showcase the fact the mannequin doesn’t have a head so I stuck a fake tea light into its neck stump to add dramatic effect like some sort of headless banshee and attached a see through curtain to its diaphragm for some flowy movement. There is something about long exposure painting with light that feels as though you are capturing something that isn’t there but at the same time could be, some sort of residue spectres that reside in different frequencies and are only captured through means the naked eye can’t see, so it seemed fitting to try and capture some ghosts.

The mannequin in question minus the ghostly movement and before the tea light was added.

The Moon Did Not Answer – Kick About #29

This weeks kick about over on Reds Kingdom where artists from all across the lands provide a creative response is an exert from Haruki Murakamis 1Q84 where he describes the transcendent moon as a perceptive but mute watcher over the earth and all it encompasses.

I feel like with the words of Murakami, the moon has an element of ominous brooding and a spark of stoicism at remembering what used to be. The light I am capturing with these long exposure shots, which rim the highlights of ornate wood panelling and makes the hard wood floor sing with colour, makes me wonder who used to reside in this old house previously? Who wandered through the hallways? Who ran their fingers along the wood panels? Who tended to the rose gardens? Who hung up all the photos that still have a small circular imprint on the ancient stained walls? I imagine the original family in black and white or faded sepia, posed on an old chaise lounge, looking dapper but serious.

This old creaky house with its not so glamorous leaks and constantly breaking faucets still has so much charm to it, bursting with history as high as its ceilings. The mammoth floors above us are now converted into flats, but one wonders how it all looked in its original form? How would the moon have shone into those vast rooms above me? I can only fantasise.

The process of producing these photos was relatively simple. I used long exposure photography to take the initial photographs (seen below) – curbing my preference for large swings of a light source, instead opting for a central steady point so that the light source would not bleed out from where the moon would be placed. From the Scientific Visualization Studio site I downloaded a HD colour and displacement map of the moon which I then plugged into a simple sphere within Maya so that I could get some nice renders of the moon with depth and texture. I then plopped the renders of the moon on top of the long exposure shots and edited to my hearts content so that the makeshift moon look as though it is the original light source.

The Song of Love

This weeks Kick About prompt is The Song of Love by Giorgio de Chirico (1914) and with it the offerings from artists around the globe ranging from a multitude of mediums to marvel at!

in regards to my own response I have been having wildly vivid dreams as of late, the kind of dreams where you wake up in the middle of the night and need to write them down, the kind you remember so clearly when you get out of bed in the morning, the kind where you try to decipher their meaning to see if its some sort of cosmic message within your unconscious psyche that needs to be brought to fruition. 

These dreams feel as though they relate to the collective phenomena, where people at the start of lockdown had extremely vivid dreams, probably in relation to their unconscious being so fired up because their everyday lives felt like Groundhog Day, something I still feel like I can relate too.

Surrealism, as an art form, is cemented in the unconscious, with surrealist painters adopting many techniques to unlock the power within their unconscious, so that it translates through to their art, including many being influenced by allusive dreams. With this in mind, and with this week’s The Song of love prompt, I have created a landscape of some of the symbols I have recently seen in one dream that has had a lasting effect..

Wildest 〰️ Sugar Music Video

During the summer months when the weather was scorching I was busy animating a music video for a band making waves after initially being featured on BBC Introducing, the band being wildest and the song being the mouthwatering Sugar and I am thrilled to announce that the music video and this labour of love has finally been released and can be viewed here. My good friends @tom_boxx and @ellie_carolyn who I was a VFX runner with came to me with an idea for the music video reflecting stop motion animation and an abundance of collage like elements superimposed on a bright orange background. Obviously I had to jump at the chance!

〰️ Wildest Band Members Jack, Harry & James of Wildest 〰️

In detail to do the song justice and get this music video right was to create the music video in a stop motion, choppy nature and have it reflect Wildest’s signature style – so warm seventies nostalgia, groovy cylindrical patterns and shapes with a swirling psychedelic orange background. The background constantly rotating while the assets in the foreground have a black and white monochrome half tone effect to represent old paper and show stark contrast to the tantalising orange. All the elements combining together to bring everything full circle and complementing that warming nostalgic boppy funk that makes you want to throw some serious shapes to wildest effervescent syrupy coo’s and snappy drums.

〰️Wildest Sugar Cover Art 〰️

Some tidbits in how I figured thing out; A turning point came to me when I figured out how to export all of the videos firstly from premiere to remove the green screen and then after effects to add the half tone effect and then bring that clip into Maya as an alpha channel while having the green screen removed, what figuring that out meant was that I could manipulate the videos as they are now technically 3D objects – extruding, deforming, bending and deleting parts all now achievable and made for some fun experiments. I’ve attached some videos below of having a muck about with stuff that didn’t make the cut.

〰️Experimental Maya Tests〰️

Now that I knew how to get the videos into Maya I could really play around with the elements, dialling up the surrealism and elements for the foreground for a smorgasbord of intricacies including lightbulbs, scaffolding, cages, trees, stars, floating eyeballs and mouths as well as taking pictures of my own hairy legs and arms to place them into odd angles and add to the mind bending dreamscape of sugar. I took inspiration from Max Erst, Hannah Hock, Dali, Terry Gilliam and the installation art of Tony Oursler, all of which these incredible artists offering some help into the surrealistic collage approach I was going for.

〰️ Max Ernst, Hannah Hock, Terry Gilliam & Tony Oursler Mood board 〰️

I liked the idea of in a way breaking the fourth wall by showing the animator making this lucid trip happen by key framing and moving pictures of my hands as they slot the elements into place, including the offering of the sugar bowl before the final pupil dilating adrenaline rush of the end scene.

I was really excited to be given free will from Tom and Ellie to come up with the instrumental end part of the video which starts at the sugar mountain scene where the windmills are made out of spoons and sugar while the lads of Wildest melt into a hallucinogenic Mount Rushmore. The end shot where the camera starts to fly through the mouths of the band members as the sugar follows was one single shot within Maya and was really finicky to animate as Maya isn’t really meant to have high quality alpha map videos of real people within a scene; let alone having many, many duplicates of them and I mean it when I say my laptop nearly melted! Sounding like a jet about to take off as it slogged to painful speeds as I keyed the transparency on and off of every element within that shot. The resulting shot turned out to be my favourite and I am glad I just trusted my gut and went wild (pun intended) what it came to be was a complete sugar rush where the trippy psychedelic nature was dialled up to an climax and in doing so gave the rest of the music video a place to flow towards.

〰️ The Instrumental End Scene 〰️

What I loved about doing this project was that I always crave having people in my circle that get it and go for it. Tom and Ellie get it and they go for it, they just want to create stuff together to build up their roster, by figuring it out as you go which is all part of the fun. I may have been made redundant from the job that we all shared together (thanks Covid) but it’s those relationships that I have made with creative like minded people that is worth its weight in gold – much more than a monthly pay check. If you would like to support this funky fresh band that is wildest, the tantalising sugar can be streamed on all music streaming services now.

Ersilia 〰️ Film Update

Ersilia is starting to flourish as I continue to work on it which is a refreshing way to go about things as in this manner figuring it out as I go is proving enjoyable. I really love editing to music where a piano cord or violin screech effects how I interpret the edit, making it so that the music drives the edit and overall feel of the film and that is very much the case with the music accompanying the film created by Sergey Cheremisinov. The song which is entitled Sleepwalker has sporadic, creaks, fizzes and pin drop like spot sounds which adds another layer of texture to the music and invigorates a visceral response when animating the accompanying visuals.

The music starts off slow with a mesmerising hum that gradually builds up to water and bird song heard in the distance before transforming into something more violent and throbbing with surges and pulses echoing throughout. I am about to move into the more complex scenes which is the second half of the film and where the music swells and grows as will the visuals and is the part I’m most excited about.

I think because this film doesn’t have any moving characters and isn’t plot driven I want it to feel more ambiguous, more abstract and up to the viewers own interpretation. What I want to accomplish with this film is to feel like you are just experiencing the music, like the film is rhythmic and an extension of the music to embellish the song and work in tangent with it. It is all completely new territory for me and one that is proving invigorating.