Sunday, April 28, 2013

Thinking out loud

Bear with me guys, I've got an assessment for Directed Studies due tomorrow, and I was going to write it this weekend.

And then I got sick on Sunday. My head feels like a Cadbury Cream Egg, and I have no real desire to go to class this afternoon. Time to get stuff done.

So this is kind of like getting the assessment straight. It's a recap of where Breaking Down the Fourth Wall has been and where it's going. And somehow I need to jam it all into a five-minute speech with a power point.

Actually, consider this the extended edition. Hopefully it makes sense.

Breaking Down the Fourth Wall is presented in studio brief format, with physical pieces and extensive documentation and research. It's an investigation into costume design; particularly the niche culture of Cosplay, and presents theoretical and physical results.

Translation: Uni project about Cosplay. Finished product is a few cosplays with extensive documentation on concepts, theory and techniques.

Things about costume and Cosplay in particular that are interesting:
The idea of assuming an identity already determined and presented by someone else.
The theory and implications of assuming identities of these pre-existing characters and how that relates to the self. (e.g. My fascination with the Hollow because it reminds me of my own shortcomings)
Meeting complete strangers and becoming buddies because you don't need to introduce yourself.
Is the output of Cosplay original?

Meanwhile, Brooke fills up the web browser with Anchor & Braille YouTube tabs and sneezes again.

The original plan for Breaking Down the Fourth Wall:
Was nuts. I'll go over the things that have changed, and then what's left.
Initially, I had three projects in mind, that would have an output of four costumes done at a professional level, plus work experience.
I dropped one of the projects, changed some dates on the schedule for other stuff, and have decided to do work experience next semester.

Sorry, Aerith. Some other thirty seconds.

The projects that are left are:

The Sequel Machine (Parts A and B)
This project looks at the idea of creating something from an already-established design. I mean, that's kind of the point of Cosplay, but explaining this with movies or on an industrial scale with someone who doesn't know about cosplay means you have to take a different route. Comic-book hero movies are a prime example of this, as well as sequels and reboots - you have an established design for the character. The challenge actually lies in satisfying the look and feel of the character without traipsing into unrealistic outfits or upsetting the pre-existing fanbase too much.

Part A of The Sequel Machine was taking a pre-existing costume and making it better (The Hollow) - similar to how a sequel looks compared to the original movie. Part B is redesigning and creating an outfit that I've made before, but remaking it entirely and doing it better (Which will be Sheik from the Zelda franchise).

First rendition

Sequel Machine. Photo credit: Travis Lin

The Beta Experiment
Beta is a look into how pretty much every costume I make is a one-off. With the exceptions of the Weeping Angels, I've never made more than one of a costume, and never sorted them out for wide-scale production, partly because cost, partly because time. I guess there's also a mindset in there that wants the work to be individual, and progressing, which is why I don't usually revisit stuff often.

The Beta Experiment is my more intense unit - it'll be Agent Texas from the series Red vs. Blue. Better explained to those unfamiliar as armour from the Halo games (although it erks me a little whenever I explain that and they immediately go 'oh, Master Chief.' I know it's the only identification that they might have, but Master Chief is Jim's planned set. Tex is way cooler.)

Waaaaaay cooler,

I had planned to finish Beta much earlier in term, but it took longer than expected to get the patterns together. I'm hoping to have it finished in the next couple of weeks. I know that I can probably knock over the Sheik outft in a week or two, if I forgo sleep.

I guess the plan is to blog all of this - the techniques and conceptual journey at least, as well. With photos and stuff to allow everyone else to see what I'm doing.

Did I mention how amazing foam smells when you unwrap it? Only when it's fresh. Heat-sealing it is super-smelly business.

So that's kind of the overview done.

Where am I up to now?

Well, if you've not been up to date,
I've finished the work with the Hollow, and took it to a convention about a month ago to see how it compared to the rest of the stuff being competed. Didn't win anything, but still looked mad. Got covered in paint an already have a few more ideas in place to make it better next time (Invest in a morph suit, do the nails better, glass eyes for the mask)
The paper patterns for the Halo armour are about 90% done - I've got to finish the handplate and belt. I chopped up the shin this weekend and transferred it over to high-density foam, and have nearly cut it all out. I plan to do some more shaping with a knife, heatgun and soldering iron, and otherwise have to glue it into a 3D form with hot glue.
And I'm blogging like crazy.
And I got sick yesterday.

Okay, you're pretty much up to date.

I had originally planned to take the finished Halo armour to Ironfest (which was not the weekend just past, but the one before). Since this didn't happen, I'm planning on taking it to Sydney Supanova, and every costume party I go to forever afterwards. Provided it isn't too hot.

See, the black suit business I got to go under the armour is a wetsuit. I'm planning to cut big vent holes in it, but am still a little worried about heat exhaustion. Still, I wanted a wetsuit, or neoprene for this. Could have gone with tights/skivvy or a morphsuit, but I particularly wanted something that would have the visual texture and feel of something that was supposed to be worn with one-tonne-space-marine-armour. And a wetsuit is kind of the closest you can get. Plus, they suck your gut in for you.


What else do I need to fill you/the lecture room in on for tomorrow?


Because this is Fine Art, it always strengthens your point to include actual fine artists in the thing.

This is the work of a guy called Ricky Swallow

There are a few things you should know about this piece. It's called Killing Time, was made in 2003-2004, entirely by the artist (as opposed to guys like Jeff Koons and Daniel Hirsch, who employ minions), is life size, and was carved from one piece of wood.

Pick your jaw up off the floor and have a look at a few of his other works:

I had Swallow introduced to me because he creates all his stuff himself, makes stuff that is life size/to scale, and creates things that look like they should be made out of something else.

Seriously, when I was shown this work:

Come Together, 2002

My first thought was pretty much 'I wish to jump in that beanbag.'
My second thought was 'That is made out of wood and will not be soft. It is a lie of softness, like every time you used to jump on the demo beds at Spotlight.'

I was a terror at Spotlight as a small child.

But yeah. That beanbag, regardless of the skull that looks casually thrown in, as opposed to carved from the wood, is pretty much the same size and shape as one we had when I was a kid at Hannem Vale. It was this big black vinyl thing that Dad had, and would get sticky when you sat in it in summer. I think it was the place I used to hide under when we played hide and seek since it was so enormous. I got sat on more than once.

So yeah. Things that look like they're made out of other things.

And then I found one of the earlier sets of works that Ricky Swallow had done.

YAHHHHHHHH The book's in at uni grherksgnhouhn[aofrkgh can see it later.

Basically, one of the first things that Swallow did that got his name out were these tape decks and hi-fi systems from the 70s and 80s, reproduced perfectly in cardboard.

Sounds a little familiar...

So yeah. There is a fine artist, making stuff that looks like it's made out of other stuff.
Which is kind of what I do with the costume business, since it's not cost-effective, time-effective or comfortable to make full space-marine armour out of legit materials/metal/whatever the Mjolnir armour is supposed to be made from. Not to mention I do not possess the crafting skills.

So costume is a kind of halfway thing. We figure out how to make paper look like bone, and foam to look like metal. It's fitting, since the idea of a costume is playing pretend anyway.

And then there's this Korean sculptor named Lee Bul, who does these mad-gnarly cyborg things that look like they're from a cyberpunk anime. It's the shapes that are interesting here, I think.

Lee Bul, Vanish (Purple White Cyborg Torso), 2001

There are others, but they're troublesome to find. I'll scan a couple in from the books.

Yeah. Like, these are cool artworks, and they're about the body and the cyborg and perfection and imperfection and they really just remind me that one day I want to do an Appleseed cosplay. Or maybe just build Briarios' head and have it sitting somewhere.
Artist credit because I remember where I found that.

That doesn't sound like a half bad idea actually, aside from how creepy a disembodied head would be with glowing eyes in someone's apartment. I could talk to it though.

So yeah.

Now you know what I had planned, and where I'm going now, and what I'm doing, and where I'm up to, and also that there's fine artists that have done stuff that's similar to what I do.


I've now got about an hour fifteen minutes before I have to be somewhere. SLEEPCOMEHERE. PICTURES, WHY YOU TAKE SO LONG TO FIND?

To my friends I see in everyday life. It means a lot when you mention that you read the blog. It says that you put time and effort into reading something I wrote, or that you found it engaging. This is not a note to remind people to say it more often, or to pressure people into feedback or whatever.
It's just letting you know I appreciate it.

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