Monday, 23 September 2013

Naamah: development and symbolism

Photo, concept, manipulation, frame design: GothicNarcissus
Model, hair, make up: Arianna Clarimonde
Styling: Arianna Clarimonde and GothicNarcissus
Assistant: Deborah Luna
Additional resources: Amptone-Stock (texture), Thy-Darkest-Hour (wings), (wallpaper, dreamcatcher)

I can positively say that no Demon in my series was conceived, shot, postproduced and published as quickly as Naamah. The whole process didn’t take longer than a month, which is a record by the standards of my ages-long project.
Okay, I’ll be honest: Naamah was a last minute addition I included to replace Sandalphon. I mentioned in the development post how unsure I was about his inclusion since he wasn’t listed as a Demon in any source, what made me decide to go for him, and how difficult it had been to complete that work. Despite heavily retouching it even after its publication, I was never fully satisfied with the outcome, not to mention it really was a bit of a stretch to have him there in the first place.
While at first I justified it with the story I’m writing about my Demons, as I started refining some plot elements that became another argument against Sandalphon being an Infernal Lord at all. Thus, the idea of replacing him started tempting the Hell out of me, so to say.
The final decision was triggered by the combination of two events: while looking for totally unrelated things on Wikipedia, I ended up on Naamah’s entry and read a few details that had initially escaped my attention; meanwhile, Arianna Clarimonde, whom I would have loved to include in my project for quite some time, jokingly asked me which Demon was best suited to her.
Back then, the female Demons I wanted to do were all taken, which was why I didn’t ask Arianna to join the club; on the other hand, I had been repeatedly asked by my watches about Naamah and whether I would include her in the series, which I declined because I felt she was too similar to Lilith to be developed into a separate character. Well, the detail which had escaped my notice was that she was considered the Mother of Divination and often fed on sleeping mortals’s energies rather than simply preying on their sexual force. Gosh, there I had my Nightmare Eater, with the bonus of Divination. Thus, my reply to Arianna was, “If you were a fortune teller, which method would you use to predict the future? I’m asking, you know, ‘cause you’re going to be Naamah”. Boom, there we were.
A seance in the Twenties. Roar!
I’m positive Naamah would have taken even less time to be done if I hadn’t been cut off the world during summer holidays, but Arianna and I used that time to discuss the aesthetics. When thinking of a “psychic” Demon, the first thing that came across our minds was the photos above: since we both love the Roaring Twenties very much, that kind of look was our first choice, which influenced the make up and hairstyle. As for the outfit, it was Arianna who suggested to use her black kimono completed by some Art Déco-inspired jewellery. That made me decide to make an Art Déco background, which would have been nice to publish right after the Art Nouveau-inspired Decarabia.
Admittedly, this time I planned less stuff than usual and simply let the inspiration flow free, similarly to what happened when Arianna and I shot World Of Make-Believe. We just lighted something like five incense sticks to have some smoke (although it sickened me a bit, and had to be shot separately aftermaths due to the wind that kept blowing it away), and found the right idea for the pose there and then, which had me decide the editing details after I got back home. The part of the postproduction which took me longest was creating the crystal ball entirely on photoshop. My graphic designer friend Uriele helped me a lot with many useful tips about how to make it realistic, and my painter friend Katia gave me some advice about how to make a convincing refraction of the surroundings inside the ball. Of course, that is a reference to Naamah’s precognitive abilities, while the Dreamcatcher halo alludes to her nightmare-eating nature.
As Naamah is not listed in The Lesser Key Of Solomon, I had to borrow her a seal, choosing Balam’s because his looked like a stylised N. I retained the fandango colour from Sandalphon because it perfectly fit the photo, and kept Lullaby by Leandra as the theme song because that’s where I got the nightmare-eating idea in the first place. And honestly, since it is one of my favourite songs, I’m glad it is now associated with a work I like and I’m truly proud of.

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