January 22, 2017 – Blood Box

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Back to the old obsession.

I can’t really justify it, and I typically don’t spend a terrible amount of time at home mapping-out symbolism and structure to my series, but that’s just the way it goes. On the surface it might sound unwise, haphazard, and foolish for a visual artist to operate almost entirely from instinct – and that’s probably an accurate assessment. But I hate the stuffy pretensions and relentless insistence that everything has to mean a specific thing. I’ve never been the kind of creator that felt the need to bludgeon his audience with ideas of how they ought to feel about the images he makes.

Half the time I don’t even have a vague idea why I’m drawn to certain types of imagery. I walk around with my camera discover interesting objects and textures, and I make pictures of them. Over time, themes bubble to the surface and I spend some time looking at these themes and I try just as hard as anybody else might – probably harder – to try and figure out what it is that draws me to certain subjects.

Electrical boxes, storefronts, garbage bins, and gas meters? They attract me. Could they be symbols of our interconnectedness – interlocking roadways, an electrical grid, a dependence on natural gas? Maybe that’s what it is. Is it the uniform right angles, the unnatural ninety-degree angle that divides us from the rest of the natural world? Sure. Why not, right? Whatever the seed is for this curiosity, I find these things incredibly fascinating, and I’ve been thinking about them and photographing them for over a decade.


Fallout – Stephen King’s “The Shining”

The Shining post

Today’s “Fallout” easter egg is a simple one, but it’s also one of my favorites.

To the uninitiated, there’s a location on the map in The Capital Wasteland where people have survived, barricaded behind a mountain of k-rails, slabs of salvaged pavement, and the walls of a lone surviving structure. Tenpenny Tower, a rotting spire of concrete named after it’s founding inhabitant, is a fortified settlement in the territories west of the Downtown DC ruins. Formerly a luxury hotel, it is the tallest surviving building on the map, with the Washington Memorial a likely second.

The residents of Tenpenny Tower are a collective of elitist snobs who, behind their reinforced concrete barricades and a well-armed security force, do not take a liking to the poor and hungry drifters who occasionally stumble across the dusty cracked monolith. Allistair Tenpenny only allows affluent and “cultured” individuals inside his hotel, prejudiced against the pour and against the ugly so-called “ghouls.”

For those of you who don’t know – and if you don’t, the why the heck are you even reading this?! – ghouls are humans who have been deformed due to exposure to high levels of radiation. Some ghouls are feral and will attack anybody on-sight, but there are underground societies of mentally acute ghouls. These are perfectly sound, rational human beings with a serious case of flesh-rot. Prejudice against them is rampant in settlements across the wastes because of their unsightly appearance and fears that they may become feral. Their presence in the “Fallout” universe is a clever way to inject themes of racial prejudice into the narrative without invoking actual real-world ethnicities.

(this is also one of the reasons I’m such a huge fan of “District 9”)

On the mid-floor apartments in Tenpenny, there’s a tricycle in the hallway, along with blood-stains on the walls and an overturned chair. This is a direct reference to Stanley Kubrick’s classic horror film “The Shining,” based on the novel by Stephen King. Midway through the film, Danny Torrence happens upon two little girls dressed in blue while riding his big-wheel through the corridors of the hotel. In a flash, Danny sees a murder scene with the two girls laying on the ground, butchered, with blood covering the walls and an upturned chair on the floor.

Little nods like this are everywhere in the “Fallout” universe, but this one is absolutely marvelous.

For ever, and ever, and ever…

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Bonus Game Fact: Emil Pagliarulo, lead game designer and lead writer on the “Fallout 3” project confirmed that Tenpenny Tower (and its associated game quest) was partially inspired by Fiddler’s Green, the skyscraper in George A. Romero’s “Land of the Dead.” The story line is similar enough, with arrogant elites inside, and ghoulish creatures outside, looking for a way in.