Thursday, 16 June 2011

Absinthion: development and symbolism

Photo, concept, manipulation, styling, frame design: GothicNarcissus
Model: Richard Novak
Hair, make up, assistant: Julie Factual
Additional resources: Amptone-stock (textures), Darklaela-stock (wings), Poliu365 (wings), Wiegenlied (star)

While I did read about it in the Book of Revelation on my own, I first took notice of the figure of Absinthion thanks to the song Wormwood by Tristania. The lyrics of the song refer to an apocalyptic scenario, and the booklet quotes a passage from the Book of Revelation, as follows:
...The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and in the fountains of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many died of the water, because it was made bitter...
Wormwood falls from the sky. It's raining absinthe, hallelujah!
Wormwood falls from the sky. It's raining absinthe, hallelujah!
As the Italian translation for “Wormwood” is “Assenzio”, before I got my original copy of World Of Glass I didn’t make the connection and simply thought the song referred to the plant (which seemed weird). When I looked into the lore about biblical star, I found out that, according to a book called Angels A to Z, Wormwood is “a Star, or Angel”, and that in A Dictionary of The Holy Bible it “seems to denote a mighty prince, the instrument, in its fall, of sore judgments on large numbers of the wicked”. I was immediately fascinated by this figure, its name and the “Star, or Angel” part, and started mulling over it. Taking for granted the Angel interpretation, and provided firstly that he will eventually fall (rather than, say, descend) from the sky and secondly that he will kill countless people, I thought that he wasn’t such a positive figure after all, but a quite evil one. Then my idea came up: what if he wasn’t actually a mean of God’s punishment, but rather a traitor who works under cover for Lucifer? I was quite fascinated by this idea, which would fit my non-allknowing conception of Yahweh, and I started reading about Wormwood in every Bible I came across. This way I found out that some commentaries to the Bible state that Wormwood might be seen an evil entity indeed, so I didn’t get it wrong after all. Great, Wormwood was in, I only had to decide about his name: I quite liked the English version, but the Greek one, Αψίνθιον (Absinthion), sounded much cooler.
Once again, I found the model, Richard Novak, pretty much casually on MySpace (I only thought it would be cool to have someone with long black hair, but had no other specific ideas about it), but when I got in touch with him, before telling him the idea I found out that one of his nicknames is Artemisia Absinthium, the scientific name of wormwood, which was indeed fitting. As I had to wait a lot we could arrange the photoshoot due to my exams, I could at least set the things up properly. I decided I had to include some absinthe in the photo and while I was thinking of what beverage would look more like it, I thought it was more important to serve it in a Portalier glass, so I purchased one. The drink problem was solved by Richard, as he had an absinthe bottle, so I didn’t even have to fake it. The shooting was also quite easy and, as usual, I was very focused on what I wanted and did it quickly and without drama. On a side note, I suggested that Richard cover his mouth with the chalice for a particular reason: he has got incredibly beautiful eyes, and I want to draw the viewers’ attention to them.
The symbology for this Demon developed rather easily: white wings and a light shirt because he hasn’t fallen yet, a branch of wormwood to recall his name, a star on the foreheadfor  his starry nature and, obviously, the glass of absinthe in his hand. I guess there’s no need to explain why malachite green is the theme-colour.
As I mentioned above, it was the song, Wormwood by Tristania, that inspired me the work in the first place.

1 comment:

  1. You had it right first time: all 'fallen angels' are shamanic drugs. Lucifer is Amanita Muscaria, for example.