What started out as a lark and a one-off image, “World Turning,” has turned into a bit more than expected. With that image, I wanted to try to create something with no human presence, something, strangely, I have not been able to do. In the end, the wheels, these devices, were affixed to mountains and lit in the center with an otherworldly glow. When you build something like this intuitively, you ask yourself “What does this mean? Where are we? What am I trying to say?”

In the two weeks or so I worked on that one, a very elaborate story or backstory started to develop, and suddenly I knew what I was building. It was kind of exciting, because this idea could have some mileage in it, allowing for a potential and ongoing series of images.

This may seem a tease, but as I am not ready to commit to the idea, which is still being developed, I will not be explaining much about this image either, just as I did not explain the first one. What can be gleaned from the title is this: the series is called “World Turning” and the word “dream” in the subtitle is meant to convey that this image is in fact a dream or vision of a character, for now referred to as “the Prophet.”

Everything in the image is there for a reason: the city, the tattoos, the giant wheels, and even the upside down mountains above the character’s head. The three birds flying toward him symbolize something as well. If this character resembles a figure I used in the image “The Long Walk Back,” you are correct, because that image ties into this potential series as well. In fact, quite a few of them do.

Hopefully, in a couple of weeks, the third image in the series will be complete - it is already started - and it’s going to introduce another character to the series. Hopefully, until the backstory is explained, the image will be at least interesting to inspire some speculation as to what it all means!

January 24, 2016
Michael Bilott

 

 
At first glance, looking at a classic SciFi film from the mid 70s might reveal a slightly tongue in cheek campiness and very little else. Logan's Run is a good example of something that might seem rather dated and silly, but has a lot of metaphorical layers to it. These layers connected with me as a young person and this film and its central themes stayed with me.

If you don't know the premise, it is essentially this:

In a post apocalyptic world, a domed city thrives with a population of beautiful, care-free people run by a central computer network. No one has to work - leisure and pleasure abound, but there is one catch: when you reach your thirtieth birthday, you must be "renewed" in Carousel. Carousel is a public spectacle where those whose "life clocks" have expired must rise to the top of the amphitheater to be obliterated by a lethal machine. The throng of spectators cheer because there is a rebirth promised to all who renew.

Read more: There Is No Sanctuary

Social Media. It seemed like a good idea, and maybe at its heart, it is. But the state of it now, the sheer presence of it in our lives, feels vaguely corrosive to me. I am not a technophobe, I am not a luddite, but lately, I feel it would be a good idea to scale back on it entirely. I know some people online only - I have never met them, yet I've known them for years. This is not a bad thing, but it is somewhat odd. Other friends I haven't seen for years, some in decades, and through the bizarre lens of social media, they become abstracted, approximations of people you once knew and now are distilled to a few lines a week.

The most egregious thing about it all is, despite its moniker, it is anything but social! It does not bring people together, it keeps them isolated, more often than not. It maintains a level of familiarity with anyone you are connected that becomes "sufficient" and so personal connection, literal socialization is not as vital or wanted as it used to be. I have friends I used to see, to be with, who now only write through social media. If I pulled the plug and took myself off this grid, they would likely disappear from my life entirely.

Read more: The Company We Keep

The purpose of a scarecrow is to, obviously, scare off crows. The idea is that a human presence will make the crows think twice about invading the fields of corn and flying off with stolen plunder. Whether it's ever been effective is questionable - perhaps in the short term it is.

Lately I have been thinking about perception - how others perceive you. How much is true perception and how much is expectation of your behavior? The fact of the matter is, people like to label you and need or at least expect you to be consistent.

But what happens if you change and the perceptions of others do not?

Read more: the Scarecrow Syndrome

If you read my blog or follow my work in any way, you probably know I share a lot of personal insights and feelings in my imagery as well as with my written work. You probably also have noticed a decline in the frequency of my output this year. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the main one has been my lifelong shadow, my ever-present companion, depression.

I have used my depression to create some images in the past, particularly one called "the Pull of the Tidal King," but this year was the first time that my depression has actually stopped the flow of creative work completely, and that was a sign that things were declining and something needed to be done.

It's odd to consider suicide while being completely terrified of death itself - the two viewpoints tend to cancel themselves out rather well, and that's fine, since it seemed my fleeting thoughts of my own demise and my fear of oblivion maintained a stalemate that stayed my hand from doing self harm. But the thoughts were there, and the loss of interest in what I do for creative expression followed me as I took a trip in April to New Mexico to gather what I hoped would be some imagery for future work.

Read more: Inside The Cloud Factory

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