It came from the primordial ooze…
We had a great time this week focusing on the speculative elk-like creature. We discussed travertine formations, mineral precipitates, as well as stromatolites and how these structures grow. We wanted to integrate elements into the creature design that would reflect the animal behavior and relationship to the hot-springs environment.
For instance, what kind of behavioral traits would be necessary for an elk-like creature to accumulate mineral precipitates or microbial mats? We envision the long passage of time, something ancient, that calls back to the primordial beginnings of life on Earth. A slow-moving creature, that would spend a lot of time submerged and resting in the thermal waters, that would in turn form deposits on the body. See how the conversation took shape in Rose’s amazing artwork!
In keeping with our interest in cabinets of curiosities, I thought I’d do some museum recon. I went for a lunch time stroll over to the University of Alaska Museum of the North, fortunately located right here on campus. I was looking for some inspiration on how animals and their environments are presented in museum collections.
In the permafrost section of the museum, there are some uniquely preserved specimens. Did somebody say mummy? That’s right, the highlight of the collection is a mummified specimen called Blue Babe, an amazingly well-preserved steppe bison (~36,000 yrs old). Its bluish coloration was a result of phosphorus in the body reacting with iron in the soil to produce vivianite, a mineral that turned blue when exposed to air. It is incredibly cool to me (pardon the pun) to see the preservation of this animal due to its burial conditions.
Aside from mummies, I found the exhibits that incorporated a tactile display to be the most enjoyable. My favorites were the things I could touch such as the petrified wood and mastodon/mammoth teeth. Interestingly, these are all growth structures which seemed to be the focus of a lot of our conversation this week and was at the front of my mind. Thinking on ways Rose and I can integrate an interactive component into our collaboration. Something to consider as we move forward.
Until next week!
Patterns in nature
Jill and I keep returning to our interest in the patterns, textures and colours of the hot spring environment. I needed to re-focus my elk-like creature development to include these motifs. I collected more moodboards of bacterial/mineral growth patterns and stromatolite forms and patterns.
This week, I decided to move into digital techniques. This would better allow me to use the colours and textures from the environment as overlays on the elk-like creature.
I produced iterations of the elk-like creature to visualise our discussion about its behaviour – a slow-moving creature that has travertine build-up because of the time it spends resting in the hot pools.
Colour studies were created by overlaying colours from the environment. This created unexpected blends with the textures and tonal values already in my initial painting. These will need refining, but this serendipitous way of working allows for a more interpretive reference to the volcanic hot spring environment.
Now that I have developed a digital workflow that can represent our interest in the patterns, textures and colours of the hot spring environment I could move on more quickly to other speculative creatures to populate our dark fantasy world. We have also discussed our shared interest in still exploring the hydrothermal vent environment as another facet to our world-building.