Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Taurus

Taurus by GothicNarcissusWhen you touch me, I die
Just a little inside.
I wonder if this could be love,
This could be love.

[ Venus – Lady Gaga ]

Sign of the Muse
Element: Earth
Secondary element: Soil
Planet: Venus
Alignment: Dark

A Dark-aligned Earth sign which represents the fertile Soil, it comes from the constellation of the Bull. It is called the Sign of the Muse because a Taurus often behaves like a blank canvas on which people project their own wishes and inspirations. Its ruling planet, Venus, makes is a sultry seducer in touch with its feminine side. Hedonistic and usually very physical, it is something of a serial collector: of food, of beautiful things, of beautiful people.

The second work for The Zodiacs is also the second sign of the Zodiac, Taurus. As for Gemini, I suggest that you go and read the entry on The Gay Boy’s Guide to the Zodiac for a much more insightful descritpion of the sign, and to see where I drew inspiration from to create the symbolism for this sign.
With this said, Taurus was one of the first ideas I had for this series, basically because it was the first entry I read on the blog. Indeed, it was Knajfer who sent me the link in the first place (after we had a conversation about the position of Lilith at our birth). So I could blame it on him for having the idea and I single-handed hired him for the project. Physically speaking he perfectly fits the modelesque-but-not-too-though Taurus bodyframe, his character totaly epitomises the Taurus boy, he is a very sexy person to be around and we could easily reach a wood-like park, so who better than him? That was an easy choice.

As for the symbolism, Taurus was another sign that presented me the challenge to give a visual rendition including a person (and not an animal) and no photoshop. Given I wanted to shoot it in the middle of a wood, at first I simply figured out I would find something to hang or lay in the background which, with the right perspective and amount of bokeh, could recall horns atop Knajfer’s head. Once we got to the location and started exploring it, were blessed to find a huge dead tree lying on the forest floor with those horn-like roots (and we also found it very quickly). The only catch was that it lied some five meters from a path with little bushy coverage in-between, but the funny thing is, despite several joggers and random people with dogs passing by, no one noticed us.
One thing I’d like to point out is the earring, which I crafted myself with seven pearls shaped as the Pleiades: it is a nod to the Taurus constellation, which features that amazing cluster.

On a side note, despite choosing a Lady Gaga song for this sign (the choice was quite obvious, given Venus is Taurus’ planet), this photo is not part of my Artpop Generation series. It’s just coincidence.
Also, I unfortunately doubt I’m going to progress with this series in the next few months because, as bad a bitch as I am, I can’t ask my models to pose naked outdoors in winter (I mean, I would, but no one’d comply). Knajfer and I were lucky enough to shoot in an all in all warm day, but I doubt this will happen in December, January or February. So just wish me luck in finding models for a couple of signs I can do indoors, or... well, see you next spring!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The Infernal Lords XXV: Murmur

Melodic stanzas symphonising their way
Through your weary head.

Leaning over your fourtieth masterpiece,
You must have loved the colour of these violins.

I wish you knew your music was to stay forever.

[ Travel – The Gathering ]
Murmur by GothicNarcissusCount Murmur is a Second-level Demon who was formerly the Second-in-Command of Cherubim. He is the Demon of Music and therefore, along with Count Kobal and Count Naberius, one of the three Demons of Art. While still in Heaven, he was assigned the duty to direct the Angels’ praise of Yahweh’s name through Music. Initially, Music was indeed supposed to only exist in Heaven and have no other purpose than to please Yahweh, but when Count Murmur was cast out of Heaven for following Emperor Lucifer in the Great Heavenly War, not only did he bring Music along to Hell, but in retaliation he taught the Mortals how to create instruments and play them, totally spoiling their holy dimension and making them mundane. When Duke Azazel realised the potential of inspiration as a trigger to have Mortals sell their souls to Hell, he and Count Murmur refined a plan to include the Arts in the Goetic Scheme, opening a way for Mortals to summon the three Demons of Arts and be granted their protection in exchange for their souls.
Although not quite as much as Count Kobal, Count Murmur, too, often takes care of Mortals even when not summoned. Contrary to his two friends and colleagues, though, when he does so he occasionally lets go of his unaware victims, especially when they’re particularly bright, leaving them to lead a normal and still inspired life. Nevertheless, if his protégés turn out to be unworthy of his gift, he’s quick to turn their life into a living hell.
Count Murmur’s Elemental power is Sound and he’s able to create both music and noise without any instrument; as his sound waves need Air to spread, though, his Element is subject to Duke Astaroth’s jurisdiction. Beside their elemental connection, another reason for the close bond between them is the Duke of Terror’s love for Music, which makes Count Murmur the perfect companion to loather time with. In addition to his Goetic duties, Count Murmur is also appointed the Conductor of the Infernal Orchestra, which makes him part of Emperor Lucifer’s close entourage and one of the main entertainer of the Court of Pandemonium.

Murmur: development and symbolism

Credits:
Photo, concept, manipulation, frame design: GothicNarcissus
Model, hair, make up: Knajfer Wintermere
Styling: Knajfer Wintermere and GothicNarcissus
Assistant: Dani Foca
Additional resources: Princess-of-Shadows (texture), Thy-Darkest-Hour (wings), sxc.hu (wallpaper)

Apparently, in these last few weeks I’m finally up to shooting a bunch of photos whose ideas are now years old, both outside and inside the Infernal Lords project. Murmur is one of those. I recall he was the first Demon of the Arts I came across and he gave me the idea for summonable Art-related Demons, which also include Kobal and Naberius. A Demon with the power to teach music to mortals was just too fascinating to be left out. I also remember having the very idea you can see in the photo as early as summer 2010, which was also when I met Knajfer and decided he was the perfect fit for the role. What on earth kept me from doing it earlier, then? Honestly, I don’t know. There were some organisation issues to be handled with care, since my idea involved several persons at one time, but nothing really impossible to overcome. Perhaps, given the importance of music in my life, I just wanted to make sure this work turned out perfect, so I kept waiting until I felt ready. Surely, this paid off, as in three years I’ve become much better both as a photographer and digital artist, and Knajfer’s fashion sense has improved remarkably.
Modern depiction of Murmur as described in the Lesser Key Of Solomon.
An important thing to say, which influenced the aesthetics of this work quite heavily, is that when I started planning this work, I was just in the middle of my most gothic phase. I was going to do a music-related, gothic-looking Demon, so what was the trendiest musical instrument in the scene? Why, the violin, of course; you know, Vampire Lestat, Victoria Francés and all that stuff. Well, that was the first instrument I decided not to use, as I was fed up with it even then. The best thing I could think of for the subject was a harp, and I happened to have a friend, Dani, who used to play it and still owned one. With such a beautiful and important instrument in my image, I could have both an immediate yet not worn-out symbol and spectacular aesthetics in one single move – amazing!
That was perfect, except for several months I just couldn’t schedule a moment when all three of us could be there and do the shooting. I eventually shelved the idea for a while because I was not in a very Infernal Lord mood for most of 2012, then there was the 2013 hiatus until I finally decided to round everybody up and go for it without further delay.
The shooting went extremely smooth and I had the right photo after just a few attempts. Indeed, the hardest part was to find a way to set the black background in the room, so you can imagine how well everything went. I’d like to especially thank Dani for being so kind to lend me her harp for the photo and give us some advice about how to make Knajfer look like he was really playing (which he “did”, the vibrating string you can see is real). It wouldn’t have looked the same without it, ‘cause blending a stock photo would have been difficult and surely not as good-looking as the real one.

As for the rest, I took Murmur’s seal directly from The Lesser Key Of Solomon with no changes. Although it is an image with a rather wide chromatic range, especially if compared to the other works of the series, brown is the main colour because I wanted a frame which recalled the wood of the harp. Travel by The Gathering was my first, immediate choice for a theme song, because it has some of the most amazing lyrics about music I have ever read.