” After Dinner Conversation”
This is entry will not so much be about the photo presented but more an adventure into why I am so drawn to one of my favorite reoccurring subjects, blood. I approach this topic because it is one of the questions I get most often. “Why the blood?” A question I’m more than happy to discuss. One that I as well think deserves clarity.
First though, I’ll give a rundown of the photo attached. It’s titled “After Dinner Conversation.” The title itself is a play off of vampirism as well as discussing blood and other horrific like subjects. After a nice evening dining with loved ones a topic of gory word tangling is a nice contrast. 🙂 I fall in love with contrasts on a daily basis.
“After Dinner Conversation” was the first photo I took after I found my desired fake blood recipe. The same one I use to this day. It is corn syrup based, however secret ingredients are added to give it the proper hue and consistency. The teeth were ceramic caps I filed down to size and shape I desired, which sounds less time consuming at first glance then it does. It was shot with my trusty Nikon D50 (yeah I’m a Nikon guy). Lighting provided by a work lamp positioned directly in front of me with the safety guard removed. Coloring adjusted in Photoshop.
Now to the burning question., I don’t promise it to be a short explanation. Artistically I can never recall a time I wasn’t drawn to the darker themes. Being captivated by the appeal that something forbidden had to offer, its mysteries. I’ve found the opposite side of the spectrum, bright and fluffy themes are very cut and dry. I read their stories in a quick passing and have nothing more to ponder on while walking away. It didnt change my attitude or thinking, I view it as safe, good, comfortable. My comfort allows me to rest easy which allows me to forget easier. You cant sleep with nightmares looming in your future.
When I was growing up with my nose buried in comic books and my eyes smashed to the TV. I always rooted for the villain. Not because I didn’t believe in what the hero was pursuing, no because the villain was so mysterious. They had the story I couldn’t wait to unravel. I knew the heroes, I knew why he ticked, why he saved the girl. I chose Skelator, not He-man, Shredder, not the Turtles, The Green Goblin, not Spider-Man.
From a design aspect the “bad guy” always had more flash to him as well. I wanted to dress up like him for Halloween! Wanted that Bad Ass costume! Again, the “good guy” fell short for me. I was bored by his background, his style, his being. You’ll rarely find me cheering for the hero in any given epic battle of super powers. Batman and Spawn are exceptions to that rule. Think about that though considering what I’ve just said. Mystery resides in their every actions.
Jump to the Horror film influence. Clearly at glance of my work its apparent I’m heavily influenced by horror films. Its a larger area of art that glorifies the villain. The tortured, misunderstood enigma is front and center. My intrigue is off the charts!
I’ve been a fan of the genre since I saw my first “scary” movie, “The Shining.” If you can put two and two together you may be picking up right about now where the name “Redrum Pikchures” gets its birth. Its my way of paying homage to my initial introduction to my beloved horror. I loved the way my brain raced during and following my first exposure to that film. Nightmares? of course, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I dove deeper and deeper into these films as if they had been made just for me. Loving the complexity of the characters with the visuals they were portrayed. The gritty colors and textures dancing around mystery. They weren’t like other things I had watched, they stayed with me. Demanded my thoughts and have never let go of the hold they have on me.
Enter blood. I want to make it clear I’m not attracted to blood just for bloods sake. It needs to be displayed properly. Filling a frame with as much gore as possible is not necessarily an accomplishment in my eyes. If done or used correctly it certainly can be, however its a thin line to walk. Blood to capture a feeling, a mood, a contrast, now that’s what I’m drawn to.
Exploitation in the horror business is a common occurrence. Its the highest grossing movie genre so you have to expect exploitation. Men in offices throwing money in a barrel that they know nothing about trying to get a piece of the action. Don’t insult me, as a fan, by just throwing murder and blood into every frame. Make it mean something. By misusing blood you are avoiding the most important part. The enigmatic air of it all.
I’ve tried to use blood for key moments. As it is with anything I put myself into, nothing is by mistake. Its all there for a reason. The lovely red stuff is inserted into my body of work when it is right. This does not mean it needs to be used to express murder, peril, disaster, etc. Don’t think blood, our life force, is only good in depicting scenes with negative purpose. Its quite capable of much more endearing tellings.
Often I’ve used blood for the purpose of a catalyst in contrast. In fact, That’s one of my favorite uses of it. Take a beautiful man or woman, with all their striking features in a row. The shear elegance of beauty is screaming to be complimented. Making something beautiful by expounding on its already captivating parts is one way to do it. However I find another route more appealing. Give it a contrast!
Find something for it to compete with. When worthy competition comes into play with anything, it offers the opportunity for two greats to be recognized. In sports without legitimate competition, one can only be realized as great but, in the light of battle between two equals the victor becomes THE best. The same is true for art and in this particular case, beauty.
Splash some blood on that pristine model. Watch the features of both begin to run into one another until only one stands the winner. For me there is no way to determine who will win this battle whenever I have applied the formula. My opinion is that they both win, complimenting each other all the way to the end. For others its always the model that wins. Appearing more stunning with blood running over them. Some it’s the blood that captures the glory while it steals the show. I care not who wins, My job is to present the idea, paint the differences.
In conclusion, blood and horror will always be apparent in my art. Whether it be photography , illustrating, painting, etc. It’s dark corners give me endless areas to explore through my art. Its rough edges and color palette are the pieces I would like to see. What I would consume. To some up in a short version the answer to “why blood?”
Because I love making something beautiful , horrible
something horrible, beautiful.
I will always have a love affair with this theme.