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January 2014
> JANUARY 3: Illustration Relevance

JANUARY 28, 2014: Dimensional Transitions

The presence of music as an ambient texture is truly a magical inspiration. By underlying scenes in a film, the musical fabric sometimes may go unnoticed to the conscious mind, but it's influence is inescapable. I try to accomplish a similar phenomenon through the control of digital media manipulation. Sometimes, while trying to concentrate on a particiularly difficult bit of creative construction or complicated programming, I'll put on a track and let it repeat for hours on end, over and over, however, such appropriate music selections are rare and hard to find.

For example, they could be as short as the two and a half minutes of Robyn Miller's "Wahrk Room" from Riven (1997 CD-ROM game) or as long as the 30 minute, three movement Clarinet Concerto in A (Mozart's K 622). Some people might call it "zoning out," but I think, instead, I would call it zoning in. It's almost like a form of meditation.

I think film composers really get it too. It's all about modifying emotional response. There are these brief moments in favourite movies that I wish I could make last for hours. I don't think I'm alone when I praise James Cameron and James Horner for the glow in the dark scenes in Avatar. There are magical ambient scenes in Alien and Prometheus thanks to Ridley Scott, Gerry Goldsmith and Marc Streitenfeld. I should mention Paul Leonard Morgan for Dredd and Mychael Danna for Life of Pi, but there is also one special moment in Ghostbusters where Dan, Bill and Harold are walking around upstairs in the Sedgewick Hotel looking for the little Slimer (Spud) with music by Elmer Bernstein. I could watch and listen to that scene all night. It captures a moment like no other in the entire film.

Instead of being diverted by the constant flow of commotion and activity in action films and video games, sometimes I would just like to slow it all down and try to make time stop, if only for an illusionistic loop. I think it works. It really does. I have succeeded in making it happen. The only trouble is, at the end of the day, it is hard to climb back out of it. It's kind of like jumping between dimensions - not that I have any practical experience with that.

JANUARY 3, 2014: Illustration Relevance

A student remarked she could tell my book was drawn with Adobe Illustrator.  Apart from recognizing one of the programs I have used for almost 25 years, she seemed to be making a generalization about the quality of artwork. At first, I wasn't sure if I should feel offended or appreciated. Yes, it had been an extremely difficult decision to make when it came to the final look of the book. It may have been the most difficult one of all in the process. I started with pencils and technical pens. I have nibs and quills and brushes and bottles of ink and I've used them all over the years for many different jobs and assignments. When it came to The Perfect Round, however, I decided it absolutely must have an electronic, digital look.

The main protagonist is an extraordinarily capable and highly technical robotic "synth." So the style could not be a primitive or naïve one like Sir Quentin Blake or Henri Rousseau for that matter. It also would never do to look like it was drawn by Edward Sorel, Edward Gorey or Ralph Steadman (although that could have been interesting!). Any formal sort of oil or watercolour painting would be as inappropriate for my tall tale as using a CAD program like Studio Max for Les très riches heures du Duc de Barry (currently in the Chantilly museum).

I was not re-creating a 15th Century Flemish annunciation painting, although the effect of technology on modern living has certainly had a profound, if not almost divine enhancement, due to the fact that computers turn humans into superbeings. On the other hand, the exquisite little illustrated books by John S. Goodall do capture the simple kind of story I was trying to tell. My story would be completely wrong in the hands of Jack Kirby, Wally Wood or Steve Ditko. Instead, I would have loved to emulate the work of the incredinly talented Edwin HuangJoëlle Jones or Amy Reeder (her Rocket Girl is amazing). That would have been phenomenal! Oh rapture!

In the end, I accepted the decision and along with both left and right hemispheres connected via the corpus collosum, I began designing my own aircraft, electromagnetic reactor and a robot wearing a suit combining carbon fibre, diamond particles and titanium thread to form a seamless grid of sensors. Along with his cranium array of microdish antennae and his Ultra-Perception goggles, Kele is the ultimate synthetic being. I hope the result shows why it took years of sketching, drawing, designing, coloring, and a dozen computer application programs to create my little book (along with writing the story in the first place). Along with all the artists I've mentioned, however, their tools and techniques still remain irrelevant so long as they are, indeed, appropriate for the world they are attempting to create. To paraphrase the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz, "Remember, it is not how much you judge, but how much you are judged by others."


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