Creating art which comes from a science fiction source (as it were) often requires what people think of as 'special effects' work -- think either the energy beam of Star Trek phasers or Star Wars light sabres, or the transporter effect from Star Trek and yes I reveal some of my fandoms here. Composite work where the artist combines and blends two or more images into a final which exists primarily in their imagination is one of these special effects. Long before 'blue screen' (more properly labeled chroma-key and often using green rather than blue) either stage backdrops or glass screens were painted for the 'alien' landscape and then worked into the scene takes from the storyline. A variation on this is known as 'split screen', another variation is 'back projection'.
One of the pieces I've been working up for, oh, nigh on a couple two-three years calendar time from the creation of one of the components progressed under the 'working title' In the Hall of the Mountain King. This is of course the title of a musical piece written by Edvard Grieg for Henrik Ibsens play Peer Gynt. The play storyline is from a Norwegian fairy tale. So per the opening statement here, the subject of the piece hearkens back to a fairy tale, yet as I worked I knew it held no more linkage to that specific fairy tale than the working title.
Composite pieces are intended to create, as mentioned, a place, a vision, which exists primarily in the artists minds eye. I am frequently asked 'Where is that' related to one or another of my composites. Sometimes my curmudgeonly nature comes through and I obstinately answer, In My Head. This despite recognising that people are asking so that they might be able, some day, to go to a 'place' and see it for themselves. Hobbiton, The Shire is an example of that; Tolkien first established that place in his minds eye writing both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson and associates then created it somewhere in New Zealand to film those sequences for that version of the trilogy. As I understand it, this is now something of a tourist attraction.
Jerry Uelsmann is my first inspiration for this type of work, and I've no idea truly how he might answer the same question. However, in my less curmudgeonly moments I may be a bit more forthcoming about sources, perhaps, or might answer fairly simply yet politely:
This leads up to one answer: This is the Hall of Titans King. Yes, I am implying a moon of Saturn. Research through a few paths led me to the bit of knowledge that NASA provides all the images from all the various missions to the public domain; NASA simply requests that the individual using the specific photograph(s) acknowledge the source and the mission that obtained the image. This is likely because the funds used to create these images are indeed public funds so the images truly belong to to the public. I'm not sure if NASA thought the images would be used in the manner I plan to, rather than used to illustrate scientific treatises and lectures.
This journey starts with a photograph of a hall. As depicted, the Hall of Titans King does not quite look as the source does, yet the 'real' world does provide a starting point. This follows from Mr. Uelsmanns work as well. From the 'technical' standpoint then, yes the image of the hall is generated, from reality, into something that exists in my minds eye.
Next I wanted a figure on a bier. Not, particularly, a 'normal' bier, and I've no desire to answer any questions in the realm of 'Is that a guy or a woman?' The answer to that is Yes. This is, after all, an alien world.
While working the two together (hall and figure on bier) the Inner Voice kept saying yes, yes, coming along, not ready yet. Lying in state? Yes. However, not simply lying in state. This figure is... being cremated. I need fire. This part I'm rather chuckled about, because I sort of lucked into a series of flame images which provided the source. Friend of mine is a metalsmith. Blacksmith works too, though he does not shoe horses (that's a ferrier eh).
Still, the ceiling or sky or whatever above the hall needed to be completed. And that's where NASA came in, along with my research. If one intends to make science fiction - ish images, one well needs, eventually, something showing an alien or un-earthly sky. The particular image is from the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn.
In the Hall of TItans King by madshutterbug on deviantART
Again, then, from a primarily technical point of reference:
- Approximately 72 hours of work
- Two different image manipulation software packages, starting in Photoshop 7 and completing in Gimp
- Seven different images provide the component pieces in total or in part
- Yes, I do pun my titles
The working title, or project title, came along as I started putting things together. That also lets you know some of my musical inclinations, even if I'm not telling you the different 'covers' of the piece I've heard. It isn't a re-telling of the fable, or the play that grew from the fable, or even the specifics of the musical piece as background for a scene in the fable. It is my own short story, 1000 words more or less, which still leaves questions unanswered. The working title did lead to the final title, once I added the celestial image to the overall.
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