Posts Tagged ‘Art’

Since a temporary move out from my favoured East End, I have to admit that I have struggled to get back there as often as I had initially hoped. There was a brief visit that involved various local bars… but that’s another story.

Whitechapel Gallery however proved too tempting to dismiss. Gillian Wearing’s film and photography exhibition has been available for view since March so I had little excuse.

The exhibitions underlining theme is the exploration of public personas and private lives. After walking into Gallery 1, you are presented with a small screen video of Wearing dancing in the centre of a shopping centre with no music and unaware of the public reactions around her.

I then caught the last few moments of 2010’s video ‘Bully’. An extremely powerful piece where a group of actors are directed to replay a scenario from the directors past. The line between acting and experience blur as the director ends the video aggressively berating the bullies and showing his disgust for the group that just stood and watched as he was victimised. The piece closes with the director in genuine tears, in which might have been his first release since the experience happened.

There are also lighter, but equally engaging pieces to view. 1992’s photography piece entitled ‘Signs that say what you want them to say, and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say’, provides a blank page and marker for strangers to write their thoughts and views. A simple piece that offers an insight into how people’s focus and concerns at the time haven’t changed dramatically compared to today, financial worries, war, racism and governments all included.

There are several other pieces, sharing the theme of public/private perception. Confess All On Video. Don’t Worry, You Will Be In Disguise. Intrigue? Is another darker piece that provides the volunteers the opportunity to confess their secrets of their past behind the safety of a mask. Although I read most of the transcripts rather than watched the videos they will equally moving.

Overall, although not always easy to sit through, the exhibition is powerful and one that I would recommend.

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David Shrigley is currently occupying the Hayward Gallery, Southbank. The exhibition consists of Shrigley’s drawings, hand written texts partnered alongside sculptures, photography, animated films, neon signs and music. The work consists of his early pieces from the mid 1990’s to especially commissioned work for this showing. 

‘Brain Activity’ like all Shrigley’s work, humorous and often makes the viewer laugh out loud. However, to dismiss his work purely as a one-liner or a quick laugh will not do it justice. He also twists everyday scenarios into darker situations with a deathly & violent theme.

The work needs to be seen to fully be appreciated, however I hope a few sneaky pictures that I had taken for me provide an insight into what to expect. Brain Activity closes on May 13th so get down there before it finishes… There is even a dead rat on display!

Do Not Linger At The Gate

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Roof Sculptures

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Drawings & Hand Written

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Family

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Plot Overview – Plot Spoiler

The comic begins with the necromancer executing his way through the Oliginistic army. Although these actions are expected by the reader, Monocyte reflects ‘Long Have I Sought This Gift’ ‘Death’… ‘You Are My Envy’. This is the first character development we have received.

Again confronted by 6 Olignistic soldiers, Monocyte uses their psyches as individual keys to enter their city. The Conduit is his target, Monocyte reveals his discontent for the Olignistics greed and mocks their very existence as ‘transient’. Upon reaching the chamber of the Conduit we also discover his previous knowledge of the Conduits fate, and ‘she’ who resides within it.

We are reintroduced to Grod who is residing on the wasteland between the two great cities, now nothing more than an open grave. This two page spread focuses on his bitterness of being removed from the Conduit and his human cattle. He reflects on his crest, his symbol of nobility. We also gain an insight into his current plight when he confesses to have wanted more than immortality, ‘a greater sway, greater prestige and greater power’. He curses his races arrogance as the Monocyte marches through his city with only the dead remaining. His disgust for the ‘Shepherd’ is again revealed blaming her for removing him and therefore salvation for their kin.’ The Shepherd has forsaken them all.

The Monocyte finally faces the Shepherd who presents the final hurdle between the Conduit and himself. The Shepherd recognises the Monocyte from past memory. She also speaks of how the previously brought the Conduit online, however he sees their fate as the same… both to end in death. The Shepherd knows it was Azrael who sent him to do Deaths bidding.

The story the progresses to the Antedeluvian City, to the throne of the Green Man: Donum Sancti. The Marquis De Seraphim informs the Green Man of the Monocytes destruction in the Olignistic city and the uncertainty of his intentions for their kin. Meanwhile, Moses has retreated into meditation solitude to summon ample defence against the one-eyed. We are then treated to an amazing full-page of the meditating Moses who delves into the one-eyed’s mindset and wish for death.

The Shepherd explains how she was there when the Conduit went online and how easy it was to deceive the humankind and how her position granted special privileges. She talks of how the Conduit can hear her words before denouncing her union with the Conduit over while anticipating what the Monocyte will do with it.

The Chamber of the Conduit – Shakespeare’s Hamlet is then quoted at the Monocyte approaches the Conduit, who is now begging for his existence. However, no mercy is shown. The Olignistics know their Conduit has fallen and their immortality finished. Only one has survived, Grod.

I must admit that like #1 this is a very intense book, and I must that I didn’t understand all of what was spoken and written. However the stunning artwork guides you through the story. Although complex and detailed, it effortlessness guides you through each scene. This comic demands high amounts of concentration and focus from the reader and that is its strength.

Like #1 we are also introduced to two short stories. First is by Alan Hubbard accompanied by Chris Newman’s art. I think it has to be read to be described, however it involves an immortal sacrificing human life’s.

Secondly is the amazing Ben Templesmith who provides his own artwork and story. If Monocyte was confusing, this takes it to a new level. The two pages consist of pig like humans rolling on their backs before being executed.

Cover 4/5 – The cover provides an excellent preview of what’s contained within the comic. Like #1 there is the chance of lazy Geiger/Alien comparisons, however whenever I see it in my pull list I automatically forget the other 19 being delivered.

Art 5/5 – I think the artwork manages to exceed the previous comic. The double page spread of Grod procrastinating, the naked woman on the door of the entrance to the Conduit, Moses in a levitational meditation, the Conduit itself… I could go on. I am now in the process of saving to actually purchase some of Menton3’s visually stunning work.

Story 4.5/5 – I think #2 continued how it was expected to, however the small character developments including glimpses into his history and his need for death change how the one-eyed is viewed. The text used in this comic is deliberately detailed to demand fine full attention of the reader. The only drawback is that by being a bi-monthly title I did have to re-read the first chapter to remember certain points. However, this is destined to be read as a trade in its entirety.

A plane of dead passengers (other than the 3 lone survivors), no signs of struggles or resistance from the victims. A mysterious engraved coffin and chain of events that Dr Ephram Goodweather need to understand.

The comic immediately focuses on the opening of the engraved coffin. Once opened the smell of decay is apparent, however the soil contained is alive and rich. A second question of what was initially in the coffin is raised. Ephram has also noticed that despite two hundred and six airline meals in the cabin decaying, there was not a single fly. Also disturbing is the fact that none of the bodies have rigor-mortis or started to decompose.

The survivors are being observed at Jamaica Hospital Media Centre. Ephram & Nora Martinez question the pilot on his memories regarding the journey. This calm questioning can’t be used on their next interviewee Mr Barbour who is more concerned with getting home to his wife, kids & dogs. The final survivor is goth rocker Mr Bolivar whose main goal is to see if he can get any Oxy’s. Although he seems a likely character to have such a coffin, he soon corrects Ephram that is look is an act to sell records and get laid. Ephram is then informed of his duty to perform a press call before we receive a reminder of his personal life that he has had to temporary leave behind.

Chesapeake Bay, Dark Harbour, Virginia – home of the multi billionaire Eldritch Palmer. Eldritch the ‘mastermind’ behind the hugely successful Stonehouse Group. Their latest acquisition has been in energy-futures and their 6 nuclear plants are due to go online shortly. Eldritch is an old and frail man who relies on heavy medications and ongoing care. He doesn’t see energy as the future, however he sees ‘life’ and is proud that he is proving the medical
world wrong as he was not expected to live beyond forty. We understand the extent he is willing to take to survive.

While Ephram is addressing the media, the city in watching a solar eclipse that has plunged the city into a temporary darkness. Nora is at the airport wanting to start the sample process, before discovering it has been removed. This proves to be a fatal mistake as we see the drivers deformed body, with the top of his skull removed (surrounded by black cats).

A mysterious man pays a low life to drive a truck to a set location. His details are hidden in darkness, however he must have influence as he is aware of the hired helps past record and family history. Unfortunately, he is unaware of his deadly cargo and his closing panel would appear to be his final.

We return to Ansel Barbour’s home where his religious wife is blessing his return. Ansel himself is praising his luck, although not feeling 100%. Meanwhile, Ephram & Nora are in the office of the chief medical examiner, Manhattan. They have noticed a small scalpel like piercing in the deceased, they can assume that it has been used to remove blood from the victims, however they are at a loss to the white ‘milk’ like substance which is in its place.

The comic closes with Ansels wife calling him and the kids as he has been in the shed for over an hour. Only then does the cover image connect the story so far.

Art 4/5 – The comic follows similar form to #1, with the brighter more vibrant colour of the living compared to the dark and looming environment. The panels follow a standard format, although they ensure the story continues at a steady pace.

Cover 3.5/5 – I was a fan of the first cover and although I have no complaints this time either, it lacks the immediate impact. However, I do believe it still provides enough of a teaser to tempt readers into getting involved in the story.

Story 4/5 – I am a real fan of this series and I hope that now the first two releases have been to build the story, we start to see the bigger dangers ahead. There has been a good combination of character building and story development and a comic that I look forward to receiving each month.

Two warring immortal races rule a scarred world where time has no meaning.

Death (Azrael) sits impotent, quietly planning his restoration. He summons Monocyte, a forgotten immortal necromancer who long ago chose sleep in his failed quest to die. With a fatal pact sealed, Monoctye strikes out as Azrael’s vicious proxy.

The Olignostics
A race of immortals who came together through the convergence of politics and technology. Their seminal moment was their development of absolute zero by a MIT scientist. They used their knowledge of technology to create an ‘immortality conduit’. Once the conduit was brought online, the Olignistic race was born.
Once able to flaunt their true nature publicly, they soon established a hyper controlled and harmonic social system for the remaining humans that subjugated them to feed the conduit. 
Not satisfied with this control they soon ravaged and destroyed social, political, financial, natural and other ecosystems, driving the world into a barren wasteland. Towards the end of their global pillage, the Antedeluvians resurfaced… and the great war began.

Antedeluvians
Have walked the earth since its beginnings. They are a secretive collective if individuals, bound together for a thirst of knowledge with an ancient code governing their activities.
Al Khidr, the Green Man, was the first immortal and the originator of their species. Legend speaks of him turning barren land into lush habitat, in having those deemed worthy transmitted to divine secrets so as to be filled by their own capacity towards confronting their divines.
For centuries, the Antedeluvians subsisted on withdrawing psychic energy from their unknowing prey. Through time individuals would leave the shadows and perform extraordinary achievements for no reason but play.
The near overnight formation and ascendancy of the Olignostics for the Green Man to reemerge ordering the Council to bring all Antedeluvians together, with a collection of humans to feed on. 

I can appreciate that is an intense introduction to a review, however the comic itself is very demanding and requires commitment from the reader, both in story and visually.

The two warring races have destroyed the earth though their eternal battles, and mankind are nothing more than food to both. Death releases the Monocyte to destroy both races and restore the land. A demon who is able to remove the immortal souls, tear the skin from bone and use as weapons as if they become part of him.

Grod is introduced as a dispossessed nobleman from the Olignostic city, forever bearing the mark of shame on his face. After losing two of his human slaves, he demands the ‘Shepherd’ provides two more, once humiliated by her denial he receives the same shame by the high council. 

Meanwhile, Grods brother Ryal is sent to battle the oncoming Monocyte, and in doing so becomes the first immortal to perish. Beatrice is sent to gather the humans before they flee and stands opposite the Monocyte. Both recognise each other and acknowledge so, although nothing more is mentioned at this time. The comic concludes with Monocyte standing tall new to fallen victims ‘Meet Me By Nature, Then Fall By The Same, Death Will Know Your Name’.

The detail in the bi-monthly 4 part series is outstanding, and is enhanced further by the two small additional stories included at the back of the comic. ‘Chronicles of the Shepherd’ is also written by Ghanbari and illustrated by Riley Rossmo and illustrates how the humans are farmed. ‘Chronicles of the Messenger’ is written and illustrated by David Stoupakis’, and tells of a young girl Beatrice taken to see a Doctor due to her ‘imagination’. Beatrice can see the immortals and understands the human role in their society. Although kept over night the final panel shows he in the described barren land alongside the adult Beatrice discussed in the main story.

Story 4/5 – I am a really fan of dark horror and this is one of the most intense and suffocating comics I have read. Each panel requires attention and commitment from the reader. Both Menton3 & Ghanbari have provided a bleak landscape,  with no heroes or characters to support. The Monocyte has no loyalty, only a mission and no past described. I am sure more will be discovered of this necromancers past, however it is refreshing reading a tale that doesn’t ‘spoon feed’ the reader too much to quickly. This was my favourite #1 issue of 2011.

Art 5/5 – It is easy to make a lazy H.R Geiger comparison with Menton3’s artwork however there is so much more to his creation. Each page is completely different, from  irregular panels to full page layouts. Each panel (let alone page) could be sold as artwork, the detail in the background takes must take more work than a lot of illustrators put into their main characters. Each read something new is noticed, a detail that was missed previously.

Cover 4/5 – I saw the cover in the appropriate months ‘Previews’, and that was encouraged me to look further. Much like the rest of the book, it’s only once you have a copy in your hands that you appreciate the detail that is involved. The only reason I didn’t give it a five, was that it opens the argument of H.R Geiger before people might actually give it a proper look.

30 Days of Night #2 – Review

Steve Niles’s 30DoN continues in the darkened alleyway where #1 concluded. Alice is confronted by the one thing she has been ‘desperately seeking’… a vampire. However, one attacking Dean Ikos who she had just met and berated was not part of that plan. Alice may have received warning from Barrow Alaska, however vampires have made a home in Los Angeles.

Plot Overview (Spoiler)

As Alice stalls for time, she recalls her training at the FBI academy,  sparing against a training partner with markers on his fingers as claws. Although she ‘kicked his ass’, she had been left with several marks across her front highlighting the hits she had received. 
There is little time for reminiscing as we see a close up of Alice’s bullet leaving the side of the attackers head. Although a non-lethal blow, it does afford her enough time to use her taser before emptying her barrel of ammo into his face.
Dean still has a weak pulse, and Alice’s thoughts turn from horror to opportunity as she informs her former instructor Hendrilk that she has a live specimen. Hendrik then orders an elite force get ready and head to Alice’s location. Meanwhile, the worst fears of Alice start to unfold as Deans spilled blood starts to return to his body. Although she hears the sirens of the special task force, a once dying figure rises. The comic concludes with the team gaining their positions, with a figure in the shadows heading towards them. However, as Alice appears covered in blood she closes the comic with ‘too late’.

Following feedback on my #1 review, I agree I might have been a little generous with my scoring. However I think the score given as low as 2 was a little harsh. Maybe with those comments in mind, my scoring has changed and I now believe one of the most disappointing aspects is the art. Although I liked its simplicity in #1 in this edition the consistency just isn’t there. The panels that aren’t of a close up never match, and her figure is disjointed. My biggest complaint is that there are nearly 15 panels with no text at all (there are also several that only contain action noises rather than dialogue or narrative.

The comic is a really quick read, a vampire is killed, a quick reminisce, the special unit being introduced, a resurrection ending with a prompt conclusion. I am hoping this was treated as a two-part introduction before the real story begins. I am a big Steve Niles fan so I will stick with this for a few issues, however as I have a large pull list of comics to buy each month it will need to improve quickly to remain.

Story 3/5 – The story continues as expected,  with an introduction of the mysterious unit. Personally it raised the question of why she would start her own vampire search site if she has trained as part a ‘vampire squad’. Surely it’s something they would already do? The lack of dialogue and narrative really made #2 suffer, I hope #3 improves

Art 2.5/5 – I was really disappointed with this weeks artwork. There were a few strong panels, however the art looked rushed and had lost any character that first appealed to me. I always believe that it is better to delay a book, then to publish an effort that hurts the story.

Cover 2.5/5 – I have the — ‘B’ cover, so I can only comment on mine. However, this blurred image of a monster using dark shading doesn’t excite me as a reader (and I bought these as a fan). The ‘A’ cover is a lot better though.

The story opens with a letter being typed to the main character ‘Alice Blood’, warning her of the impending danger of her newly started website. Alice is warned ‘they are real’ and that if she really seeks them, she will be found. We are not provided any narrative on the sender other than she is based in a snowy climate.
The story then increases pace with a group of vampire ‘elders’, who are gathered and fast becoming impatient waiting for a group of younger breeds to arrive. When they arrive led by a weapon wielding ‘Jill’, their impact is immediate with the massacre of the elders.
The reader is finally introduced to Alice who is carrying a large amount of correspondence from her websites viewers. The website is called ‘Desperately Seeking Vampire’, and I think the title says it all. Alice is shown to be bright, strong and aware (at least she thinks she is) of the risks involved with a search like hers.
We then learn more about the vampire power struggle. Jill maybe leading the battle, however we are also introduced to ‘the father’ who’s plotting has led to these actions. He is not content with their species having to live in secret, he is aware of their superior position in the food chain and he wants to make sure they return to their rightful place on top. The last segment concludes with a human hanging from the ceiling, arteries cut providing the drink that they toast their plan over. This is the first sign of the fate that could be awaiting the human race if they succeed in their plans of dominance.
The comic closes with Alice meeting with Dean Ikos who claims to have seen a vampire. Although she is clearly distracted by his good looks, she hears his tale of surviving an attack with his Uncle as a child. He is aware of how the story may sound, and the lack of evidence didn’t help validate it, however it was the mention of Barrow, Alaska that regained her attention. Alice remembers the letter she received with the reference of Barrow, and verbally attacks Dean for wasting her time for his entertainment and leaves.
Although fuming, she still thinks he is ‘hot’ before turning back to speak to him. However, she can see a figure on the rooftops stalking Dean. We are introduced to our first attack and sees Dean being feasted upon by the stalking vampire. The final twist of the tale is that Alice is revealed as a FBI agent.

A really good start to a series I have been looking forward to in a while. Niles is known for being a master of this genre, and I think this will help enhance his reputation. A fangtastic 4/5