Thursday, February 24, 2011

How Long

I have recently noticed that many of the challenges involved in writing a PhD can be adequately expressed using scenes from the Madagascar films.

As a PhD student you become somewhat insular. You spend a lot of time by yourself. Muttering intermittently. The outside world is suspect.

You wonder why you are doing it. And consider what else you might prefer to be doing... What if you only had two days to live? Keep writing the thesis?

You get overexcited at conferences.

And sometimes you just get really impatient.

My sentiments exactly.

I like King Julien.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hybrid Anatomy

I recently discovered the work of Roberto Osti, and was struck by how much he seems to draw on the style of the early grotesque.

The painting below is particularly reminiscent of the composite human/nonhuman bodies that characterise the early grotesque style.

[Shaman in Spring]

Osti combines human, animal and plant parts to create evocative, fantastical anatomies in pencil and paint.

[The Site of the Soul]

He depicts fantasy creatures using a medical-textbook style of illustration. Everything is cross-sectioned, showing veins, muscles and bones.


You could argue that these images re-situate creatures of mythology in a biomedical framework, making them seem less mysterious and more easily containable via scientific modes of viewing and classifying the body.

[Deconstruction of a Werewolf]

Or perhaps they offer an alternative perspective, and show us how supposedly 'imaginary' beasts might actually function in terms of real biological systems?

[Deconstruction of a Faun]

Either way, I like it.

You can check out more of Osti's work at his website here.

[Via Street Anatomy]

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Let It Flow

It can be difficult to relax sometimes.

So many niceties to observe. And we don't all enjoy the same things.

When stressed, I highly recommend watching The League of Gentlemen. It will make you feel extremely normal and put together.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Made This Way

For those with a hankering to see more composite bodies on this ye olde web log (mostly me, I suspect). Behold... the Amalga-Beast.


The Amalga-Beast was created by Namor the Sub-Mariner, a lesser known Marvel character who explains the process in the above frame from Avengers 1#40 (1967). Namor himself is an aquatic mutant, and the Amalga-Beast was "formed by combining the bodies of various of [his] finny subjects."


You can't see too well from these frames, but it looks as though these "finny subjects" included at least a turtle, a crab, an octopus and a shark. This clever person made a model which shows more details:

Coincidentally (segue alert), Namor appears in another series of comics starring Grotesk, the super-villain and all-round subterranean manthing who just happens to be this blog's namesake. Who knew Marvel were so interested in the grotesque? If I get around to scanning the images I might post about Grotesk sometime soon. He never gets much publicity, for some reason.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Grotesque Gyrations by Gifted Eccentriques

Not only does this image feature acrobats who look like Mr B. Natural, it just might have the best title ever.


And it's going into the thesis in 3... 2... 1...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Madam Mim

One of my favourite books as a child was The Sword in the Stone. Not the original by T. H. White, but a little book based on the 1963 Disney animation. It was basically a truncated retelling of the story illustrated with stills from the film. I loved the whole thing, but especially the character of Madam Mim.

I always admired how she had purple hair and could turn into animals. Both things I aspired to at the time.

For whatever reason she popped into my head the other day. Possibly while I was doing something eccentric. Wish I still had that book, but I'm pretty sure it fell apart from being read so much.

I still think it would be cool to be Madam Mim.

Friday, February 4, 2011

In-Game Grotesques: Part 2

Following up on my previous post about the Grotesques in Hellgate: London, here is another distinct yet overlapping example of 'grotesque' video game beasts. This time they are in Diablo III, a fantasy RPG that has not yet been released.

According to the gamers who contribute to the Diablo Wiki, Grotesques in this game "seem to be doll-like entities made of human skin sewn together."

But wait, there's more:

"...the grotesque are basically living pinatas. They are fat, white, humanoid monsters, who run up to a player who comes into range, take a single hit, bend over backwards, and rupture into a massive fountain of wriggling silver eels."

For your viewing pleasure, here is a clip of this precise event taking place.

"There seem to be far more eels within a grotesque than their volume would permit, but such is the nature of magic. The eels, properly called Lamprey are wriggling creatures that must be killed lest they consume your character's toes, but they seem to die very quickly, and on the whole the Grotesque-Lamprey combo looks more inventive and amusing than dangerous."

If you are getting a sense of déjà vu from this description, you are not alone. The Grotesques in Diablo III are very similar to the Grotesques in Hellgate: London. Both are described as figures whose bodies are stitched together from various pieces of flesh. Both explode when attacked, releasing a dangerous surge of eels or maggots. They also somewhat resemble each other at close quarters, each with multiple heads emerging from bulbous yet sinewy bodies crisscrossed with Frankensteinian scars. Here is the official art for Diablo III's Grotesque. Click for a closer look.


Two separate grotesques... why the resemblance? As usual, the good people of the Internet have the answer:

"Grotesque are extremely similar to a monster type in Hellgate: London also knows [sic] as Grotesque. In Hellgate, Grotesque are shambling, twisted mounds of demonic flesh that, upon death, explode and release numerous zombies and Death Maggots. Given that Hellgate: London was created by former members of Blizzard North, which made Diablo II and started work on Diablo III, one might speculate on some connection between the very similar monster types seen in the two games."

Most importantly, game producer Bill Roper (who was heavily involved in the creation of the Diablo series) left Blizzard Entertainment to begin making Hellgate: London.

I always find it interesting to observe how similar visions of grotesqueness are perpetuated in different texts. In this situation, a solid connection can be made between the two constructs. Individuals who share a notion of grotesqueness that is embodied in misshapen, composite and explosive human flesh have applied their definition while creating multiple texts, resulting in Grotesques that are similar in both appearance and behaviour.

Ah well, back to work...