Saturday, 28 April 2012

Alejandro

Alejandro by *GothicNarcissusI know that we are young and I know you may love me,
But I just can’t be with you like this anymore...
Alejandro.

She’s got both hands in her pocket
And she won’t look at you, won’t look at you.
She hides true love en su bolsillo,
She’s got a halo ‘round her finger, around you.

You know that I love you boy,
Hot like Mexico, rejoice.
At this point I gotta choose,
Nothing to loose.

Don’t call my name, don’t call my name,
Alejandro.
I’m not your babe, I’m not your babe,
Fernando.
Don’t wanna kiss, don’t wanna touch,
Just smoke one cigarette and hush.
Don’t call my name, don’t call my name,
Roberto.

Alejandro, Alejandro.
Ale-Alejandro, Ale-Alejandro.
Alejandro, Alejandro.
Ale-Alejandro, Ale-Alejandro.

Stop, please, just let me go. Alejandro, just let me go.

She’s not broken, she’s just a baby,
But her boyfriend’s like a dad, just like a dad,
And all those flames that burned before him,
Now he’s gonna fight your fight, gonna cool the bad.

You know that I love you boy,
Hot like Mexico, rejoice.
At this point I gotta choose,
Nothing to loose.

Don’t call my name, don’t call my name,
Alejandro.
I’m not your babe, I’m not your babe,
Fernando.
Don’t wanna kiss, don’t wanna touch,
Just smoke one cigarette and hush.
Don’t call my name, don’t call my name,
Roberto.

Alejandro, Alejandro.
Ale-Alejandro, Ale-Alejandro.
Alejandro, Alejandro.
Ale-Alejandro, Ale-Alejandro.

Don’t bother me, don’t bother me,
Alejandro.
Don’t call my name, don’t call my name.
Bye, Fernando.
I’m not your babe, I’m not your babe,
Alejandro.
Don’t wanna kiss, don’t wanna touch,
Fernando.

[ Alejandro - Lady Gaga ]

Alejandro has been the second song by Lady Gaga I really grew to like and put onto my iPod. Back in the day (we’re talking about 2010) I used to be more of a bigoted metalhead and loathed her on the simple basis that she was Lady Gaga. I mean, come on, she was some blonde popstar who made music for selling and sung about meaningless things like going clubbing and screwing, and her music was banal and commercial. The truth is, (like most metalheads) I did never even care to listen one single album of hers. I just judged her on the basis of my prejudices without even knowing what I was talking about. Indeed, those two songs I had on my iPod had such beautiful music videos that I enjoyed watching, thus I did really listen to them and that’s why I was, like, “okay, they do really sound cool”.
As I mentioned in the Heavy Metal Lover entry, it was Alessandro who eventually forced me to give Gaga a true listen (to The Fame Mosnter), allowing her to conquer me completely, so I really owe much to him in this sense and that’s probably why I tend to picture him in many of my Gaga-inspired works.
Anyways, Alessandro was doubtlessly the best choice for the Alejandro photo becasue... well, try and guess why. It was because of the name, of course, but also because I particularly liked the light I saw on his balcony when I went there to shoot Heavy Metal Lover and, for some unknown reasons, I immediately associated it with the song. Oh, and I adore shooting him whike he’s smoking, and with the cigarette verse and the light which would emphasize the smoke it would have worked perfectly.

Alessandro and I did the styling together, then I did his make up (actually just the eyeshadow) and we were ready to shoot. The photo itself did not require much work except for some attempts with slightly different poses and some work to catch the perfect light, but while I was shooting I already knew what the difficulty would be. For this particular photo I wanted a cross-process kind of postproduction with a blue-greenish hue on the shadows and a yellowish one on the highlights. I had to do some attempts because greenish shadows would result in pink highlights, while yellow highlights would turn the shadows blue, but I eventually succeded in what I had to do. This postproduction also perfectly fit the cyan tones of the glass, so I can say I’m very happy with this photo.
On a side note, Alessandro is a fucking lucky bitch: what you can see in this photo is his actual skin with no make up or Photoshop retouh whatsoever. Now, that is luck. I really wish my skin looked that amazing too...

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Long-term projects

Since I’m working on many of them simultaneously and there is often a big gap between the submissions, I think keeping track of my long-term projects may be getting a bit hard for my followers. Thus, I thought writing a post about that could be helpful.
At the moment, I’m carrying five long-term projects, plus one which is just an idea as of now, but which I hope I will start working on soon. It will be quite difficult to carry on, though, as many photos will require rather intimate interations between the models and I’ll need couples willing to do so. I will explain the idea better once I really start working on it.
The others are:

The Infernal Lords. I’m positive everybody who’s been following me for the last couple of years knows what I’m talking about, as I consider it my magnum opus and advertise it quite a lot. If you have missed the presentation of the project you can go here and read it. At the moment, I have done more than two thirds of it and my plans and wishes are to complete it within 2012. With some luck, I think I will be able to do so.
There are plans also for some spin-offs of this project which will be featured in the Evil In The World collection. One, which is about Lilith, has already been made. I don’t know how many of them I’ll be making, as it’s not a really essential part of the project, but if I get some ideas as nice as Lilith’s I’ll surely develop them.

Inspiration Hurts is a series of photos inspired by the music of British synthpop duo Hurts which has turned into my first printed work when I made a photobook out of the photos I had taken up to that point as a present for Theo and Adam. Here is the presentation I wrote for them at the beginning of the book.
Actually, I tend to take many photos inspired by a single band, but for some reason the Hurts-inspired group is quite cohesive and has evolved into a project of its own that has some sort of continuity. Differently from my other projects, this one does not have a set number of photos and I think it will go on virtually forever, as I constantly get new ideas when I listen to Hurts music. The only thing I know for sure is it will have twenty two photos which will bear the title of each song, plus various others inspired by some particular verse, general ideas somehow connected to Hurts music and so on.
As of now, I have taken eleven of the “title-photos” and I have ideas for another eight, while the other haven’t spoken to me yet. I have also taken three verse-related photos and have quite a lot of new ideas popping up in my mind every now and then.

Artpop Generation, a project about Lady Gaga and her music. It follows pretty much the same pattern of Inspiration Hurts, albeit as of now I’m only considering photos bearing the song titles plus some occasional photos that are more of a tribute than an interpretation. I’ve taken Heavy Metal Lover and Amen Fashion so far (plus I Want You Psycho and Just A Holy Fool), but I’ve got a lot of new ideas so hopefully more is coming soon. Oh, and I’ll have to come up with a title too, while I’m at it.

The Murder Ballads, clearly inspired by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ album. This project is kind of on hold at the moment, as I’m more focussed on the others and unsure how to carry it. At the beginning I was supposed to shoot one photo for each song, but the first work, Where The Wild Roses Grow, turned into a mini-series of its own that follows the narration of the song. I think the other works will follow the same pattern, as most of the songs would be impossible to fully express with one image only. This in turn makes it more difficult and demanding as it will really require a lot of work and preparation and I’m not really sure I feel like putting so much effort in that direction now. Anyways, we’ll see what happens next: I may even consider keeping it on hold until I’m done with the Infernal Lords.

• The Aégis Collection. This was actually my first long-lasting project, which I started the day I had my very first photoshoot with my own reflex camera. Nevertheless, I’m not sure if I can really consider it a real series because it isn’t actually one. I shot Poppæa and Angélique independently and then Aœde (they even received their titles after shooting, when I noticed they accidentally fit the song), then Siren (which was the first intended conept of the bunch) and finally I was like: “Oh wow, I’ve made half of the album; let’s do the rest!”. Thus, only Cassandra, Lorelei and Venus were actually shot as part of a cohesive series. This is quite evident, as I put much more care in the details so that the photos would really represent the songs, rahter than just fitting them.
With this said, I still really love these photos and I think they work perfectly as stand-alone works inspired by the songs (including the first three); nevertheless, due to my naive approach to the project, I’m not quite as sure if the series works as a whole: that’s why I’d rather call it a collection. I will be completing it with the missing photo - Bacchante, for which I would like to have Briar Rose modelling, but we have to wait for autumn to have grapes, while I am not sure about Samantha and Virago, the two bonus tracks, which aren’t nearly as inspiring as the rest of the songs - and a personal interpretation of the album front cover, but I don’t really know what will become of it apart from standing there in my gallery. The truth is I’m not dying to keep working on it, which is quite clear if you consider that the latter photos, Lorelei and Venus, were taken in February 2010 and May 2011 respectively. But well, at least Bacchante does deserve a photo, after all.

And this is all about my current long-term projects. Despite the lack of effort I’m putting in the Murder Ballads and the Aégis Collection, I’m quite proud for not having really dropped any of them so far. The Infernal Lords are becoming something of a concern as I’m sort of scared to finish them (I know I will feel horribly empty when I do), but completing that project is one of the few absolutely-must-do things on the list of stuff I have to achieve before I die, so you can imagine how important it is to me. Anyways, I find working on long-lasting projects really satisfying, as each step feels like a huge, long-awaited achievement and the excitement before getting to the next is indescribable. I hope you look forward both to my fothcoming project and to the next installments of the ongoing ones, as I promise the works will be worth the wait.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Amen Fashion

Amen Fashion by *GothicNarcissusDancing in my relevation,
Underground pop civilization.
Concrete poetry to feed my mind,
Old symbolism was left behind.
There
’s no way I could be stopped,
Was taking my best shot,
I had a better plan.
There’s no way I could be stopped,
Was coming for your spot,
I met a better men.

Amen on the runway,
Dressed in his best.
Amen fashion on the runway,
Work it, Black Jesus.
Amen on the runway,
Dressed in his best.
Amen fashion on the runway,
Work it, Black Jesus.

Put it on, Amen Fashion.
Celebrate, ooh ooh, a new compassion.
Put it on, Amen Fashion.
Celebrate, ooh ooh, style your passion.
Put it on, Amen Fashion.
Celebrate, ooh ooh, a new compassion.
Put it on, Amen Fashion.
Celebrate, poh ooh, wear out your vision.

Black Jesus, Black Jesus, Black Jesus.
Jesus is the new black, ow!

[ Black Jesus † Amen Fashion - Lady Gaga ]

The best way to describe this photo is quoting my dear friend Soy Mallika and what she wrote in a comment about it and my own reply to her comment:

Somehow the pose of Alessandro from this shoot reminds me of you from Inorganic Angel. Maybe is also because of the same symbolism of the aura from behind: here the window, there the wheel. Only here, is clear that is has a more saintly absorption, especially because the background is kind of blurry and give this effect of rays all behind the model. All these (and the chair story) to suggest only one line from the song: “Old symbolism was left behind”! Well, as crazy as you were at the moment, was an impressive idea. Turned out better than you expected.
(Actually it wouldn’t have had the same effect if you would have let the background more sharp. The focus pops up the model this way and was a good choice).
I smiled at the “amen for the fashion man!” and “jesus is the new black”. Not to the lyrics of the song, but to the way you depicted these into your work. This new jesus with bolted belt, cut gothic gloves, Turkish scarf and French hat is really a piece of something! A free saint is the new fallen prophet! Bet you didn’t think exactly this way, but Gaga would be proud!

Yeah, these two photos do actually share a connection. The idea is quite similar, although opposite in a way. In Inorganic Angel there was an angel-like model with a mundane kind of halo, here in Amen Fashion is a mundane fashion model with a religious background that makes up the halo. So basically the former represents the earthliness of santity, the latter the misticism of mundanity. So yep, I had also Inorganic Angel in my mind while shooting Amen Fashion, they’re sisters, or at least cousins.

Indeed, Inorganic Angel was thrown in the blender when I came up with the idea of this photo and I immediately imagined how taking a complementary photo would help, but I don’t think I consciously realised how Alessandro’s look did actually define the language of what would come out of this shot. I think, though, that such things did subconsciously influence me to make this image how it is now. I really have to thank Mallika for pointing that out.

Enjoy the story of how this photo was actually realised in the description of its “shadow” sister Like A Boss.
Like A Boss by *GothicNarcissus

Friday, 13 April 2012

A pin-up experiment

Adore by *GothicNarcissus
After such a satisfying and successful series as the Thirties Diva, Deborah Luna and I really wanted to work togther again and experiment with yet another style. So when we met again, we organised a quick photoshoot in a Fifties pin-up style - which suit her very well.
For a whole series of circumstances, I arrived at Deborah Lunas later than expected, so beside the fashion part, I could make an attempt at taking photos with difficult light conditions, namely twilight. The sun had already set when we went out, so I had to work with the scattering light, which gave some of the photos a very soft touch and slight bluish hue I loved. Besides, we did some experiments using streetlight, although only one turned out good (Reverie). I’m quite proud of that photo because I shot it without setting up the tripod or using an excessively high ISO speed, which means I’ve improved with the firmness of my hand.

As “bonus shoots”, we took some photos with pearls back at her place, which turned out lovely despite not being what we were trying to get at the beginning.

It has been an all in all brief session and not only did we get to accomplish less than half of what we had already planned, but I eventually had to scrap quite a lot of photos compared to the ones I could save, but those few ones were worth the effor anyways. I hope you like them!
The Malachite Dream by *GothicNarcissus
Reverie by *GothicNarcissus
Say My Name by *GothicNarcissus When A Dream Starts To Break by *GothicNarcissus

Monday, 2 April 2012

The Infernal Lords XX: Naberius

An artist is what is call’d
The self that the brush holdeth -
Though hath it then caringly caress’d
The Canvas of to-morrow?,
O Canvas! for thee I hold my tool -
Still! passionless it quivereth,
Minding not that my hands are more than apt;
My Muse.

The Devil is as Black as he Painteth -
O Canvas! wherefore?...

[ Black As The Devil Painteth – Theatre of Tragedy ]
Naberius by *GothicNarcissusFormer Throne Count Naberius is a Second-level Demon and a member of Emperor Lucifer’s Entourage. Along with Count Kobal and Count Murmur, he is one of the three Demons of Art, namely that of Figurative Arts, Painting and Sculpture. This makes him a Goetic Demon, who can be summoned into the Sublunar World by Mortals willing to sell their soul in exchange for artistic talent and inspiration. Although he occasionally acts independently and inspires unaware Humans, he tends to do so to a much lesser extent than his two colleagues. He was the one who taught mankind how to draw and carve in the first place, giving mundanity to a craft that was originally designed to only praise Yahweh.
Ever since he was an Angel, he was granted the power to reproduce the world around him with such realism that what he painted or carved became almost as real as the original object. In time, as he drifted further away from Yahweh’s grace, his powers amplified to the point that he has become actually capable of creating things out of thin air by painting or carving them, although their lifespan is limited. His powers proved especially useful after his Fall, as he lost his wings in the fight: despite the loss, he’s able to conjure new wings for himself and fly anyways.
As part of Emperor Lucifer’s entourage, he is His Majesty’s official Portrayer, and also fellow Courtiers turn to him for portraits and paintings. He also works closely with Duke ?????? and the fellow Demons of Art to the entertainment and cultural life of Pandemonium; Count Asmodeus has a particular liking for his talent and patronises him, often in exchange for portraits to give to his countless lovers as a gift. He’s famous for his extravagant lifestyle and bohemian look, which makes him a suitable comrade to the tipsy Decarabia.

Naberius: development and symbolism

Credits:
Photo, concept, manipulation, styling, hair, make up, frame design: GothicNarcissus
Assistant: LunarShore
Additional resources: Amptone-stock (texture), Sxc.hu (wings, halo)

Actually, Naberius (as well as Kobal) was not the first Demon of Art I bumped into: first I found out about Murmur, who set the pattern of an art-related, summonable Demon in the first place, and soon Naberius and Kobal followed. Eventually, circumstances got me to do them before Murmur, but I will complete this sort of “artistic unholy trinity” as soon as I can.
So, once I decided for three “artistic” Demons, one of whom was related to figurative arts, all I had to do was finding him a name. If you browse through The Lesser Key Of Solomon, you’ll see that there are more Demons that “maketh thee cunning in all sort of Arts” (although I guess it is meant as in “crafts”) in there than specks of dust in a beam of sun, so all I had to do was to pick the prettiest name and scrap the others. Naberius was one of those Demons and had the prettiest name of them all, so I downright ignored the “especially in the Art of Rhetoric” part and picked him. On a side note: one of the alternate names for Naberius is Cerberus and he’s depicted as a crane with three dog heads, but there’s no conclusive proof that links him to the Greek Cerberus.
Naberius from the Dictionnaire Infernal.
With this part set up, anyway, I suddenly and strangely found myself with basically no concrete ideas about how to actually do him. The concept of figurative art is just so wide that I did not know where to begin. Then, while generically browsing for wings on Sxh.hu, I bumped into that wonderful stained glass stock and I got the illumination: I would use the stereotype of the French bohemian painter but with that twist. After all, stained glass is just another form of figurative art and a really beautiful one too. So, my Naberius would have a stereotypical French artist look, with a big scarf and a beret, but glass wings instead of some painting or stuff like that. I further developed the idea after I found that circular stained window which would work perfectly as a halo, beside highlighting the beret, and decided that, of course, he would hold a magical brush with whom he would paint in thin air.
I chose Alessandro as the model because that kind of bohemian-chic look really suits him and I knew he would look incredibly handsome in my beret, which turned out to be true. LunarShore was assisting us and after some Theatre of Tragedy playing in the background, the music changed and produced the totally crazy backstage photos you can see below (which I even initially considered as the official one, but that would have been too out of context in the series).
On a side note, I originally wanted every sort of things to magically spark from the brush as luminescent shapes, like butterflies, flowers and other figures, but while I was editing the photo I soon realised that the stained glass was very rich on its own and adding more details would have overloaded the image; so I decided that his seal painted above his free hand would be enough. Speaking of which, I don’t really know what the hell was going on in my mind. Naberius is in the Lesser Key, so he does have a Seal of his own, but while I was gathering material for him I apparently failed to notice that and gave him one of the two alternate Seals of Bune instead. I found out about Naberius’ own Seal only after the work was finished and, honestly, I was so pleased about how I blended it that I did not want to change it. I don’t believe either Naberius or Bune will be pissed off about that anyway.
As for the rest of the work, the main colour being pink was a direct consequence of the stained glass stock. On the other hand, I’m totally positive that the theme-song being Black As The Devil Painteth by Theatre of Tragedy does not need an explaination, does it?