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  #1  
Unread 05-05-2021, 03:29 PM
Sarah-Jane Crowson's Avatar
Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
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Default Labyrinth/Establishment



a higher-res image (without the moving candle because .gifs are small file sizes is here.

Edited to incorporate some of the images from the passage of text below into the main picture (and to add a bit of movement in the .gif - to play). I still can't work how best to combine the text with the image. I could overlay the image, or write it into the border, maybe? Or is it better without the text at all?

Imagine a labyrinth. Imagine yourself a traveller, deep, deep underground, passages worn from the rock over time, from water perhaps, that fluid kind of knowledge that eats away at soft rock but leaves granite - the oldest, hardest stones - behind. The passages twist and turn, some inviting, with the glimpse of warm lights, some dark and cold and full of stones or bones that might be re-imagined as treasure. Sometimes you glimpse locked boxes glimmering in the walls of the labyrinth, and sometimes you find keys to open them, to find...what? A perfect egg shaped wonder, a paper fortune, a burst of music, or a sudden gust of air that temporarily extinguishes a candle - leaves you feeling your way - tentative - along stone walls to inch your way forwards. This is a land of strange artefacts; small cubes of letters, photographs pinned up and drying, a sideboard, full of tiny shelves and velvet-lined drawers that you can store your luggage in or in which you find letters, books, secret treasures, voices whispering in the darkness.

Last edited by Sarah-Jane Crowson; 05-10-2021 at 01:48 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 05-06-2021, 11:55 AM
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F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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Hi Sarah-Jane,

I don't think we've 'met' yet. I'm Fliss, and I like your avatar. If you blow up your screen (zoom in, I mean), you'll see that I have a small bird on my shoulder. That is the wonderful Word-Bird :>)

Here is my waffly response to your picture:

I really like this image. Initially I didn't realise there was text underneath it. Before I read the text, I thought of Dante's Inferno. I haven't actually read the tome, so I must've picked up a mention from school or uni, or while working in publishing (ongoing career). The image isn't hellish, but I have a strong sense of circles or tiers. It's quite smoky and there appear to be slightly sinister bat-beings on the right. But the owl makes it feel more benign.

The owl is my favourite part of the image. Is he/she a barn owl? My younger brother once drew a picture of a barn owl for me, while we were waiting in A&E. A nice connection there.

The text expands my view with 'labyrinth', so now I'm thinking beyond the frame while also entering the image. With 'labyrinth' I think of the Minotaur (yikes), but this one seems strange rather than scary, which is good. You could make a poem out of your note. The thought of unlocking a box and finding a burst of music is particularly pleasant, but I like the 'perfect egg shaped wonder' too; maybe, if I'm lucky, it'll hatch to reveal some sort of owl form.

I'd love to know what materials you've used here and why the word 'Establishment' is part of the title.

Best wishes,
Fliss
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  #3  
Unread 05-07-2021, 02:31 PM
Sarah-Jane Crowson's Avatar
Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
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Hello Fliss, and lovely to e-meet you,

Thank-you very much for introducing me to your lovely word-bird, too. What a beautiful companion. And I'm glad you like my avatar. I use her in the work, too, and across a range of platforms. But she only bears books here.

Also thank-you for such a careful and honest reading of the image. The time you spent with it is much appreciated, and your reading is very reassuring, too, as it's saying some of the things I want it to say. It's the first time I've workshopped an image, but workshopping my poetry here has helped it, so I took the plunge. I find it tricky to detach the words from the images but this one was defn more 'art' than 'poetry'.

This is a digital collage. I used multiple out-of-copyright images and blended them together, presenting them in different contexts (rarely warping them) to see if I can build a new narrative/ alt-artefact from older narrative/images. In doing this, I hope to re-imagine some of the old narratives whilst not throwing them out with the bathwater.

Palimpsests. Histories layered up. I was thinking about Dante, too, but wasn't trying to reflect him particularly - I don't know enough about his writing - although I have read 'Inferno' and 'Purgatorio' ( but not 'Paradise') ages ago- in translation - not very cleverly read, either - but I think once you start going underground into circles he's difficult to escape!

For this one, I used base images that were (generally male/white) centres of power (the courtroom, the palace - if you look at the 'base' it's actually a frescoed ceiling). That's the 'establishment' bit, inverted and subverted!

And Victorian tourist contraptions, all juxtaposed with a central image of a very old (I think Roman, but undated in the image) underground waterway, with a peasant family washing their clothes in the water (here watched by the frescoed palace ceiling and watched by the judges in the courtroom.)

The deer-headed tourists, the owl and the mouse are all creatures that populate my imaginary landscape, and I might have to lose them as I think they probably don't add much to the image, apart from locating it in - possibly a bit of a cliched - surrealist narrative. They are my contemporary tourists, though. And the fact you liked the owl - found them grounding images, makes me think I should probably keep them.

I am typing too much, anyway. But it helps me think through where this go next, and thank-you very much indeed for looking at this - it's really helpful as I move forwards with possible ideas for these - there are more of them but I don't want to send them out until I'm sure that they're working.

Take care, and here's an ampersand for your word-bird to nibble on later (&)

Sarah-Jane

Last edited by Sarah-Jane Crowson; 05-07-2021 at 02:35 PM.
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Unread 05-08-2021, 08:05 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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.
...and sometimes you find keys to open them, to find...what? A perfect egg shaped wonder, a paper fortune, a burst of music, or a sudden gust of air that temporarily extinguishes a candle...


Thanks for the guided tour, Sarah-Jane : ) Your description is like a treasure map to the imagination. Or maybe a flint for igniting it. The artwork, on first glimpse, reminds me of a haunt. On closer examination, though, I see many places where one could enter into the labyrinth... And I see otherworldliness everywhere... I see a cat, two tourists that are ghost-like, and robed men, one of them a Moor (in my mind). It feels like a Coleridge vision. (That's the second time this week I've seen Coleridge in someone's thread here. Something is astir)

I like it even though I'm starving to find some of the things you describe in your supporting paragraph. It would make for a nice picture book with poetry and the narrator moves through the labyrinth. I've been reading some Blake lately and re-discovering his art and how he joined it to his poetry. If he were alive today... you would be friends with him, I'm sure.

.
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  #5  
Unread 05-08-2021, 12:23 PM
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F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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Well, an ampersand; isn't that pleasant, Word-Bird? W.-B. sucks up the ampersand like spaghetti and nods, smiling :>)

Sarah-Jane, your avatar reminds me of a sculpture that used to stand in Gloucestershire's Forest of Dean, as part of the Sculpture Trail, in terms of a deer bearing object/s on his/her head. That sculpture was called, As there is no hunting tomorrow. It was removed years ago, but there's a photo here (quite a long blog; you could ctrlF 'as there' to get to it). I think three members of this herd are bearing an object. That was one of my favourites on the trail; and I also loved Crossing Place by Sophie Ryder. Once I wrote a poetry series based on the sculptures, which was probably not very good but a lot of fun.

You're welcome for my reading of your image. I see, a digital collage. There are all sorts of things in the public domain now; recently a friend joined Facebook and, to my delight, has an image of Charles Pooter as his avatar. It's all very interesting. And there I was, thinking maybe pastels and pencils. (W.-B. is laughing at me.)

Yes, difficult to escape Dante in this context. Well done for getting through some of his writings. I do see the frescoed ceiling now, and the other elements you mention. I think the tourists, owl, and mouse are very appealing, and I hope you'll keep them.

I haven't studied Art as an academic subject, which is probably why I didn't recognise this image as a collage. However, I do learn quickly, so I shall know how to approach your artwork next time.

Best wishes,
Fliss
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Unread 05-08-2021, 02:52 PM
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Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
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Thank-you!

Jim, you are a genius, because you've pointed out something I didn't even think about - I need to put the visuals from the paragraph into the labyrinth (I can do this - they're all there, in some form or shape). I am so stoopid - it just didn't occur to me. Thank-you so much - you are also very kind in how you dialogue, and I appreciate this very much.

Fliss, thanks for returning - and don't let WB laugh - that was the effect I was trying to get across (there's a different kind of skill involved in manipulating images, but some of this calls for the same kind of awareness of light/dark as you have when working in charcoal/chalk).

I wouldn't worry about not studying Art - it's a communication, after all, just the same as poetry is a communication - for me, I'm more concerned about whether people like/enjoy looking at the images, and that I'm communicating something close the things that I'm hoping to communicate (which often I'm not, but that's what workshops are for!)

The Forest is a beautiful place, and thank-you so much for sharing the blog link.

Onward! I'll think about how I revise this - keeping the creatures from my Imaginarium, and trying to bring some of the ideas/images from the text into the labyrinth.

Sarah-Jane
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Unread 05-10-2021, 01:50 PM
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Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
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Righty,

A few small edits to incorporate some of the images from the text into the picture. It feels a bit like a 'Where's Waldo/Wally' for grown-ups now, which I quite enjoy. A game and an image.

Also added a bit of off-the-peg animation for the small size version, just for fun.

Still not sure what to do about the accompanying text.

Sarah-Jane
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  #8  
Unread 05-11-2021, 01:50 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Sarah,

I do like the candle being the only piece of movement here. I didn't even notice it at first, and when I saw it I started looking to see if there were other small things moving. Really like the overall image too, as I've told you already.

One thought on what to do with the text. You could maybe wrap it around the outside edges of the image: along the top, down the right handside, along the bottom (upside down maybe?), back up the other side, back over the top (above the existing text) and so on. There's (maybe) something labyrinth like about a rectangular-spiralled pathway of text.

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 05-11-2021 at 01:54 PM.
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Unread 05-12-2021, 01:01 PM
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F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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Hi Sarah-Jane,

Yes, 'Where's Wally?' is always good, especially if one happens to find Wally aesthetically appealing, lol.

I love the candle. Would it be possible to add some of the treasures mentioned in the text as similarly subtle animations, or would that be overwhelming? Otherwise, I'm thinking along the lines of e-cards where you can click to open things. That might be a bit complicated, though.

W.-B. and I still think a short accompanying poem would be fun; I suppose it depends on what sort of experience you want to offer the viewer.

Best wishes,
Fliss
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Unread 05-12-2021, 01:18 PM
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Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
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Hi Matt and Fliss,

Thank you both for returning to this and helping me with my wicked problem of words and pictures.

Fliss - yes, I can make more things move (although that 'bit' is off-the-peg animations), and with time and effort I have (just) enough coding skill to get text to pop out or pop up as a cursor moves over the screen (not off-the-peg). I'm pondering aesthetically whether that works, as I'm a dumb slow person at coding, so it's a biggish time investment to make it happen so your comments are very valuable. There's also an issue about where I'd send it - but more and more online journals are accepting multimedia these days. It's more whether I can make the code work across different devices!

I'm working on a possible poem now!

Matt - I like your idea about the text. I could also make it follow a traditional labyrinth pattern (fairly easily, in photoshop). I think the prose-poem might make a sensible frame-thing. I'm trying to work on a more poemy-poem for it at the moment, to see how that might work, too.

thanks again both - much appreciated. I'd like to find ways forwards for this kind of thing that doesn't involve 'found'/collage or replications of found/collage text but also isn't quite an 'illustration and poem'. Your thoughts help.

Sarah-Jane
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