I fully intend to put this in color and make an impasto digital painting from it, but that’s going to have to wait because I’m moving to Cambodia in 2 days, and I won’t have a monitor right away. Tomorrow I have to pack up my computer, so today was my last chance to do some finishing touches on the B&W stage.
One of the things that worked well is the dramatic black and white lighting and contrast. I’ve been working on this on and off for over 6 months, I think, and when I first started it I was after drama, and horror. I also had to completely make up the robot. At some point I decided to mount his guns on his head, which made a lot of sense for a robot, because it could shoot directly what it is looking at, and there’s no real reason to not have weapons on its head.
This is digital, but it’s ALL drawing with a tablet. After my last piece, in which I constructed a robot head in the 3D Program, Blender, I wanted to just rely on eyeballing this one, for a change, and for more of a drawn-by-hand feel.
My process was just a digital version of charcoal and eraser drawings I used to make over 20 years ago. Sometimes I’d draw with black charcoal, and sometimes I’d use the eraser. With the computer I switch between black and white brushes, but also use grey and different opacities. It’s not as illustrational up close, because I can use rough strokes to suggest things, such as the mechanical parts in the back of the robot, without having to articulate them meticulously.
When I go into the painting mode, using impasto allows me to create fine detail through suggestion without, again, being too fussy about rendering every little detail like a pencil illustration. In this kind of piece I’m after mood and the overall image. Yup. It’s sci-fi, political, Expressionism.
My inspiration came from all the executions I was seeing in the news around that time. There were the beheadings by ISIS, and of course the shooting of Michael Brown. It’s not a high point for the evolution of consciousness of our species that we still go around executing people on little cause, having so little understanding or appreciation for the lives of others.
As usual I like to build ambivalence and multiple possible readings into my imagery. We don’t know why the robot has shot up the humanoid, and I say humanoid because he appears to be some sort of mutant. I think people would side with the mutant because he looks to be surrendering, and to no avail. I chose to make him a mutant as a sort of visual metaphor for the way people “other” and dehumanize those they perceive as outsiders and different from themselves. It’s rarely a “human being” that is being executed, but some sort of monster or inferior being.
The robot of course has no compassion and is just following its programming. It could be a soldier, sentry, border patrol, or police… This could take place in the future in a robot Vs. humans war in which the robots are systematically annihilating what’s left of a post-apocalyptic, decimated, diseased and dying human species.
This also stems from my suspicion that the robots that are being developed by DARPA and others may be used in battle against humans, perhaps even as the troops of the 1% when the thronging mass of people rise up against them. We already have drones, and killing from afar. By me, we don’t need to be developing new and more advanced military weapons, but rather making friends with the rest of humanity and investing in alternative energy and using technology in ways that will benefit everyone. We probably already have enough military might. Besides which, it’s time to evolve, folks.
Well, you could read it that a clean robot is ridding the world of some vile, terrorist, cretin, and I deliberately created that effect, but I really intend our sympathies to be with the living, conscious, suffering being. The robot’s cool though, and I recently discovered Robot Wars in which people create robots to do battle in the ring. That’s fine. I eagerly await the next installment.
Oh, if you were wondering why I’m moving to Cambodia, it’s because I live in SE Asia in order to be able to live cheaply and have time to make art. Right now I live in Thailand, but because of recent visa changes, I can’t stay unless I work full time, which defeats the purpose of me living overseas. Cambodia has the best visa option around, and I can work part time there and continue to devote enough energy to art to keep building my portfolio until such a day as when I can make enough money off of art to not have to work.
One more thing. EUOF, if you didn’t guess it, stands for “Excessive Use of Force”.