Jill and I discussed the need to share more developmental work. We are very interested in the idea that this residency is all about the process - so this week I am sharing more works in progress: warts and all!
Further iterations for the Elk-like creature
The speculative evolution of Wayne Barlowe and the hydrothermal worms captured by Phillipe Crassous informed my creature iterations this week. I challenged myself to push the boundaries with where this elk-like creature could go.
There are parts that I am particularly interested in and may take further. The external kidney ‘humps’ in Figure 2 are something that could be explored further. Also, the bald muzzle, tusks and the sensitive tentacles in Figure 3 seem to have the potential for further development.
Closing thoughts: the balance between Science and Art
Lately, I have been feeling a little restricted by making every part of the creature design legitimized by science. Jill and I have been mulling over the balance we want between science and art and where we sit on the spectrum. We also discussed the topic in our group Skype meeting with Kate Schwarting, who really helped crystalize my thoughts on the subject.
We decided to take a more imaginative approach this week because I didn’t want the science to belittle the creative process in any way, but rather enhance it and encourage exploration of the unknown by presenting ‘what if’ creatures.
Each part of the creature has been inspired by scientific principles in Biology that I have discovered and been fascinated by through the research during this residency. Then, I have created an artistic interpretation of these features in the form of a creature which progressed from the base animal of an Elk.
The creature iterations are by no means meant to illustrate scientifically rigorous interpretations of evolution, but rather open the mind to the possibilities of where science can take the imagination.
This week I am challenging myself to share more work in progress. Ready or not, here I come!
In the current draft of the story I narrowed the location to an environmental repository (think
of it like a gene bank or a seed vault but using some creative license it is much larger and can
house much more). I set it in the facility thinking about a place that would help us prepare for
the future of terraforming another planet or to preserve species in decline in the changing
climate on Earth. However, by being constrained to the facility we’ve lost the expeditionary
element that had originally sparked our curiosity and excitement. In the expedition setting it
gives Rose the opportunity to explore more biodiversity and for me to create landscapes. I am
trying to write this as a short 20-page screenplay, like a small teaser for a bigger scale film. I
will be working over the next couple of weeks to reframe the premise and flesh out the story
arc, possibly using the environmental repository as part of our back story like a research
institute that supports the field expedition.
I have also been drawing creatures of my own as part of a class at UAF with the fantastic
teacher and cartoonist Jamie Smith. My student drawings are a work-in- progress and an
important component for me to process ideas and questions about creature adaptations to
their environment. It also helps with thinking visually through color and composition and gives
me the opportunity to learn more from Rose through our creature discussions.
I have been learning the medium of watercolor this semester and experimenting with different
techniques. Recently, I created an antiqued paper look with layers of watercolor to give the
effect of an old drawing. Here is my latest test inspired by the Vulcanoctopus research from last
I will be presenting on our collaboration at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in
New Orleans next month. Next month!
We will be using a new interactive format called an eLightning presentation utilizing
touchscreen stations rather than a traditional print poster. Rose and I looked through the
templates and capabilities and have started thinking about how to represent our progress in
this format. It would be interesting to incorporate interactive items where possible including
sounds and video.
I’m so excited to see this world and the creatures in them evolving through our collaboration!
Until next week!