Have you had some strange dreams recently? According to an article in the LA Times you're not alone. Our brains use sleep as a way of processing information, just as the gut does so with food. Big changes in routine and extreme events often stir up dream recall in this way. For those whose work schedule has changed, enabling a full nights sleep, more time in bed may also be allowing for more dreaming to occur. Being sleep deprived due to overworking can reduce the length of REM cycles, the state we enter while we dream.
To paraphrase the psychoanalyst Carl Jung, whose writings have had a big influence on my work:
As I mentioned in my newsletter for the Ajna print release, our most prominent cultural myth is the 'Hero's Journey'. It is a story that represents how we all move through times of uncertainty in our lives, how our normal lives can be suddenly upended and changed. In that process we may face new dangers and even confront the inevitability of our own death. External threats that may force us to turn inward, to realise hidden aspects of who we are, and in the process learn more about ourselves. Sound familiar?
This myth has been told countless times, in a variety of ways over the centuries so that we may understand our journey through life and do so in connection with our community. It is an ancient story embedded within all cultures around the world, from Jason and the Golden Fleece in Greek myth, to the English legend of King Arthur. It also appears within stories scattered throughout the Bible, as well as more recently in Hollywood blockbusters such as Star Wars and the Harry Potter series.
My drawing series 'The Inscending Spiral' was an exploration of this narrative structure and it's prominence in Hollywood films. The title is a reference to the ancient symbolic representation of this journey, the spiral.
This symbolism is most notable within the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotoar, where it appears as the very setting of the story itself, the labyrinth. Unlike a maze, which has various dead ends, a labyrinth has only one pathway that spirals in towards the centre and back out.
The imagery within 'The Inscending Spiral' series of drawings originates from an unfinished screenplay I had started writing in 2009. I've spent many hours, while not making artwork, writing scripts, coming up with numerous characters and plot structures, as a way of expressing ideas that wouldn't quite fit into my paintings. In fact, had I not been an artist chances are I would have gone into film.
After trying to develop various film projects over the years I slowly realised I could never fully commit to the amount of time it took to write, fund, produce and distribute, even a short film, to the standard I wanted. The one short I was involved in writing and producing in 2008 (still from the film above) was incredibly rewarding, we were even nominated for a Vimeo Award! But making my artwork alone is a very time intensive job, so I eventually had to let go my dream of being able to pursue filmmaking.
So instead I decided to use the screenplay of 'The Insceneding Spiral' as a document from which to extract and explore themes and ideas, not in film, but through drawing, installation, video art and painting.
Between 2012 and 2015 I worked on the 'The Inscending Spiral' series which eventually formed the basis of my first solo show at Mirus Gallery, San Francisco in 2014.
The scripts incomplete state was reflected in the work itself, through ambiguous characters and locations, interconnected via fragments of parallel imagery and multiple narrative threads.
As the work progressed visual ideas were fed back into the screenplay, developed upon and re-extracted. These 'feedback loops' appear purposefully throughout the work due to the narrative of the screenplay itself being a self-reflexive look at Hollywood, fame, and the movie making industry. ⠀
The drawings were composed through a collaging process in Photoshop, reflecting the constructed realities of film. With references to green-screen, 3D imaging and motion capture patterns used as recurring motifs, it's as though the underlying fakery of filmmaking were being exposed throughout the work, in the spaces between the narrative fragments.
This is the first time I've released prints from this series. 'The Inscending' and 'Solve et Coagula' depict the character of Nomi Vegas, a homeless bag lady capable of hypnotising people into believing she is someone else. She was based on the classic archetypes, found within the Hero's Journey, the 'Mentor' and the 'Shape-shifter' (in 'Star Wars' these characters are the master Jedi Obi-Wan and the untrustworthy Han Solo).
'Mise en abyme' features an ambiguous female character. It was directly influenced by the Hitchcock classic 'Vertigo' and it's prominent use of the spiral motif, as well as the prominence throughout of the colour green.
If you would like to know more about 'The Inscending Spiral' series, as well as read pages from the screenplay, go to jamesroperart.com.
Archival Smooth Rag 310gsm paper
Embossed with unique artists stamp
Image size: 57cm x 43cm
Paper size: 66cm x 51cm
'Mise en abyme'
Image size: 49cm x 43cm
Paper size: 58cm x 51cm
'Solve et coagula'
Image size: 43cm x 27cm
Paper size: 52cm x 35cm
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Take care and stay healthy