Magi Mojaxx

magimojaxx cov1

Some months ago I was approached by a member of Magi Mojaxx (and a friend) and asked to do a cover for their yet-to-be-released EP.

At the time they were called Thomasina and the Undercover Mermaids but ended up changing their name. Originally I had the idea to play with the iconic gun barrel sequences from James Bond films, where I turn the barrel into a whirlpool with three mermen in the middle (much like Charlie’s Angels) hold up their respective musical instruments up for protection. The idea fell through when they changed their name and I thought to myself that it was probably a good thing, as I’d much rather come up with something original which isn’t such an obvious reference.

My final idea was somewhat inspired by the idea of my friend’s adventures all the way out in the US, and the name ‘Magi Mojaxx’ made me think of something almost shamanic. The way I described it to him when we had a chat about it was “wide open desert space, a massive fire at sunset”. I believe the final image was an almost exact representation of what I had envisioned in my mind and I felt incredibly happy with it. And so did Magi Mojaxx which made it all the better!

final idea / development

After Amelia’s comment on the second opening night of WITHIN / WITHOUT, I decided I had to make some changes.

Instead of a single long piece, I chose to go for the easier option and go with separate images for the separate pages. I’d been doing concept drawings in my sketchbook and it only made sense for each one to just be on a separate piece of paper, but still, adamant that they should be suspended on strings, rather than just hung on a wall.

Quite a few things changed throughout the course of this project. From illustrating different Creation myths in order to point out similarities to making an animation uniting all their main elements, to a long continuous piece hinting at a multiverse… I have finally come to a final decision.

My plan is to create an installation of the timeline of our universe but backwards. First we observe what is now, the Earth suspended in space, and then we start going further and further backwards until we reach the point of the Big Bang, the point of primal genesis, the point beyond which we can’t tell what was. Then I will employ the multiverse bubble theory and we will move out of the bubble our universe’s timeline is contained within, to the space where all the numerous bubbles float about, each one containing the possibility of a universe within it… they hang freely until they lead to another freely hanging piece, the last bit of the installation, a mirror. Next to it a short poem tying everything together and inspiring the awareness, self-consciousness and empathy we al must feel towards our world, our planet, our home, and all the beings inhabiting it alongside us.

It is our world, our choices and our responsibility.

 

What is the Purpose?

Why illustrate creation myths? What is the point if it’s been done so many times? What could there be to it that we don’t already know?

It is truly a challenging task to redefine something anew which has been defined and redefined so many times before – mythologies have been used as a source of inspiration for lots of world famous motion pictures as well as, and especially, books and entire series; by infusing their work with a measured amount of established myth and legend, people like Shakespeare, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis create entire worlds, just as real as (and often based on) the Heaven we so often hear about, or Asgard, or Hades and so many other realms from different mythologies. And yet, we’re not talking about mythology as a whole, this exploration is of the roots of the cultural phenomenon, of Myths of Creation.

“In the enjoyment of a great myth we come nearest to experiencing as a concrete what can otherwise be understood only as an abstraction.” said C. S. Lewis in his essay Myth Became Fact. “Myth is the mountain whence all the different streams arise which become truths down here in the valley; in hac valle abstractionist (5) Or, if you prefer, myth is the isthmus which connects the peninsular world of thought with that vast continent we really belong to. It is not, like truth, abstract; nor is it, like direct experience, bound to the particular.” The ending to his essay is perhaps the most captivating (and relevant to my own studies) part of it, “God is more than a god, not less; Christ is more than Balder, not less. We must not be ashamed of the mythical radiance resting on our theology. We must not be nervous about “parallels” and “pagan Christs”: they ought to be there-it would be a stumbling block if they weren’t. We must not, in false spirituality, withhold our imaginative welcome. […] For this is the marriage of heaven and earth: perfect myth and perfect fact: claiming not only our love and our obedience, but also our wonder and delight, addressed to the savage, the child, and the poet in each one of us no less than to the moralist, the scholar, and the philosopher.”

It is what I want to bring out to the public – a manifested personal experience of that which is only existent in the mind and soul. Even a trace of that scale of awareness of the world, not at a personal, familial, communal or national level, beyond even a planetary level can hint at our insignificance and through it unify us. When one is taken back to the beginning of time and space, one cannot help but experience something. And it is that something (which can most closely be regarded as a sense of awe), which is the same in everyone, which is the physical manifestation of a mutual connection, an understanding of a higher level, a unifying factor if you will between all of us on earth. Perspective, Empathy, those words become amplified by their own resonance – your viewpoint is exalted, you observe a creator in action, THE Creator in action… when one has transcended the barrier of mundane thought, of the opaque fog that is the material world and the “normalities” of day-to-day life, that is when one truly starts becoming aware of the world they are a part of… together, side by side with everyone and everything else. By putting things in perspective, we may come to realize that our personal problems become insignificant in the wake of wars, destruction and terrorism fuelled by the greed, blind hatred and petty differences of a certain few. It is the larger part of humanity that craves a peaceful life of love and cooperation, and to get there I hope my work to be a peaceful catalyst.
One People. One Planet. One Life. One Love.

Why Illustration?

Why illustration? Why not just art? What is the difference? Isn’t illustration an aspect of Art and Design?

There’s a lot of ways to communicate, some more universal than others. When proposing and sharing ideas, we can write them all out, but they would be limited to the language used to write them; music is another language, more universal than words – the emotion of a melody can be understood by anyone regardless background or nationality. And then there is illustration.

There’s a reason why the expression is “to illustrate ideas”, rather than just draw or visualise. There’s a certain power to an image which speaks to the viewer without the additional help of tons of theory and conceptual justification. Illustration is the language which speaks to everyone who comes across it, and it’s up to the illustrators to convey the right message through the work that they produce.

Illustration is more than just pretty pictures in books, as people seem to think most often. Illustration can educate, it can comfort the individual, it can inspire the masses, and it can fuel a fire of revolution – what could be a reason behind the shooting of Charlie Hebdo’s satirical political illustrators… it is the most inconspicuous art form as people don’t necessarily see it as ‘real art’ (what we come across in the exclusivity of a gallery space) and so it is viewed in a completely different light. In a way it’s like we take the understanding of visual symbols for granted – we don’t even realise how often we grasp concepts and ideas from illustrated images, and this right there is the hidden power of illustration.

An illustration has the power to evoke responses, emotional as well as physical, unexpected as well as predictable. We may laugh at the funny little caricature collage of David Cameron riding a pig (UK) but we won’t be laughing when we see an urban landscape of destruction where the street has turned into a river of blood (Syria)… and at the same time, illustrations can make mentally healthy people understand what it could feel like to have depression or heavy anxiety, they can evoke empathy towards others and explain what cannot be said otherwise.

Mythologies have been illustrated since the dawn of art and craft – there are caves dotted around the world with drawings made tens of thousands of years ago; narrative after narrative on the tomb and temple walls of ancient Egypt; we see entire tales drawn over ceramic pots and vases in ancient Greece; stories carved in doors and their frames from Celtic and Slavic origins; the carved stones of Incas, Aztecs and Mayans…  And let’s only mention the entire Renaissance, where classical myth was deeply intertwined even within a highly Christian environment. And why? Is it because myths just present pretty narratives or because they may hold existential information and universal truths about the human experience? Why illustrate myths? Perhaps because with each new image, we find a new way of understanding the ‘same old concepts’, because with each new image we can redefine what we’re already familiar with not for ourselves, but for the world, in the context of our experience of life today. If a picture is worth a thousand words, an illustration can be worth millions. Because one illustration, if it’s the right one, in the right context, in the right place at the right time, can potentially change the course of history…

Why Creation Myth?

Mythology is fascinating. I’ve believed that my whole life without anyone having to push me towards it. There is something so interesting about how people used to explain the workings of the world, and how each culture had its own set of tales, passed down generation after generation. Those stories are so different from one another despite the fact they address similar, if not the same, topics of life, death, love, war, parenting, kinship…

So why choose such a vast subject? The truth is I’m not. Despite the differences there is one thing that all cultures and mythologies have in common – stories with similar narrative and identical purpose – Creation myths. No matter which mythology I choose to explore, there will always be a story to explain how the world came to be.

With time, our cultures have changed, moulded by the influence of other cultures. When you look at our world nowadays there’s barely a trace of the ancient world, all we have is the great ruins and archaeological sites to remind us. But it’s not just that – ancient philosophers and mathematicians and poets, and their ideas and knowledge have become the earliest basis for scientific discovery, and even though science as an autonomous subject had a slow and rough start because of the austere nature of religion and its influence over the population, it has gone as far as the edges of space and time. Faith, what we believe in, is one of the most integral building blocks of us as individuals and as a collective and yet religion has somehow always been a dividing factor. Why is that? If all religions teach us to love one another and cooperate, then at some point we must’ve gone off by quite the margin in our understanding of them. Let’s not falsely convince ourselves that it’s human nature to be in conflict, we’ve gone way past the age of battling for territorial influence by sending armies to slaughter each other, we are in the 21st century, a time of supposed intelligence and scientific/technological advancement beyond that of every previous age. And still there is mistrust, hatred and petty differences which lead up to intense cultural and political conflicts – the atrocities in Syria being just another drop in the glass which is full to the brim.

Can we claim that we’ve been conditioned by our cultures to be hostile towards those who are different? Led to believe that this is how things are, and there’s nothing we can do about it? Well, if there is one thing which is universally true, it’s that we can question everything. And I am questioning the lessons our institutionalised faiths have groomed us into over countless generations.

I’m going back to the very start, to the point where faith was about understanding rather than judging. When people told stories about how their world was created, in an attempt to understand it better. Because it was at that point, that we weren’t focusing on cultural specificities and how we should live our lives. Because it is those stories which best depict the human psyche and how it works – can anyone explain why creation myths are so similar to one another? Could it be that we’re not that different after all? And if so… why is there so much conflict, hatred, cruelty and destruction in the world?

animation: stage O

A couple of months ago I had a tutorial with Georgina very much out of the blue. We had a short chat in which I was mainly explaining my idea and what I was planning on doing. I was quite busy with writing my dissertation at the time so I wasn’t exactly prepared. Still she seemed impressed to see how clear my direction was and it looked like she wasn’t quite certain what advice or suggestions to give me.

Still she noted that my idea might work really well in animation.

I hurried to turn it down as I hadn’t done animation before and I could clearly see the amounts of work to be done.

How foolish.

Looking back now, it feels like it was a hint of sorts, that I’ll have to do it whether I like it or not. To be fair, animation is one of the first major influences of my life and it’s something I wanted to do for quite a while before I decided I prefer illustration. Why I felt skeptical to do something I love and appreciate so much baffles me.

So now that I’ve finally come to terms with my imminent social death, I’ve started working on the sequence for a Slavic creation myth. The most interesting thing about it  is that I have to explain ‘this is Slavic’ to people. I should stop at one point and ask, ‘which culture do you think this came from?’ the process of ‘breaking it’ to people might be more successful than the animation itself…

well here’s the first test piece I did at the start of last week…. just to see if I’m on the right track….

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wake up to create the golden egg out of which Rod comes out with love to create the World….

this obviously has a long way to go before anything becomes out of it. whooooooooop. so ready for this.

Sea Dreams and Other Curiosities Part II

 This summer I decided to fill up a sketchbook with curious thoughts, mind-twisters and interesting ideas. (One of which was the realization that the word ‘sketchbook’ contains my initials S.Ch.) I was actually trying to not imagine anything forcefully, so in a sense I was drawing with no particular direction. After adding detail after detail, after detail, I never stop to wonder what  to do next – I try to employ the concept of ‘it will come on its own‘, and it works in a weird way. Once the little abstract shapes start forming a pattern which I recognize, I continue to recreate the same pattern, it becomes more distinct. I continue to build on the image until it looks like a coherent portrayal of the idea/state of mind that I’m drawing from.

Creating these images allows me to use them in further projects, or build new artwork based on them. I have already started recreating some of the images from the sketchbook (not posted here) on a larger scale, with more precision and thought.

Note on theme: I noticed after a few drawings that the sea-life pattern was recurring. I associated that to the fact that for the first time ever in the summer I haven’t gone to the seaside for more than a day. (By that I mean the gorgeous, hot, Bulgarian seaside, rather than my chilly surrounding) So… I can’t wait to go swimming…
Another theme that occurred and recurred, from which the shell idea grew from can best be seen in the first piece below,

‘horn-like ingredients and the falling star’
‘an arrangement of imagined beached shells’
‘gravity/magnetism/………..’
‘undiscovered characters of the blue depths’
‘sea portrait, gold tentacle frame’
‘likeness’
‘fine endings’

 

moon & sea / pt. I

‘blue crescent’

 

I was in the process of trying out a few masking fluid techniques, and at one point I decided to do something with ink as well. I thought I haven’t done anything with ink for some time, so why not. I just did the first things that came to mind, as the most natural way of experimentation. There was the idea of ‘blue moon’ in my head which quickly evolved into a crescent on a blue background.

mind things

  

my mind has a shield but thoughts can be sharp and malicious
my mind has a shield but thoughts can be sharp and malicious
a thought in black and white
a thought in black and white
alien tropical moonflower
alien tropical moonflower

 

psychedelic cave

 

 

dreaming in blue (original)

 

(inverted)

 

(inverted) keep in the gold light, protect from the dark and cold piercing thoughts
(inverted) keep in the gold light, protect from the dark and cold piercing thoughts