Friday 1 January 2016

Melancholia III: Metamorphosis

Just to sum up:

The idea for Melancholia III was sparked while reading Dan Abnett’s brilliant Pariah a year ago. During the same period I read Robert MacFarlane’s eloquent Holloway. Two completely different but highly recommendable books: one set in the grim darkness of the future, another grounded in a profound knowledge of past and present landscapes of pilgrimage.

What these two books have in common are their descriptions of how some pathways, whether it being the harrowed streets of Queen Mab or the century old holloways of central Britain, are linear only in a simple sense. The latter is rather, maybe more than anything, wooden enclosures shaped by man over centuries in which rifts in time and space lead to ‘weird morphologies and uncanny doublings.’ (MacFarlane, 2012)

Treeman, Fighting Fantasy, John Blanche

This is a relationship Robert Pogue Harrison beautifully elaborates in his Forests – the Shadow of Civilization (1992) in which he unfolds how forests have played a major role throughout history in shaping us – as much as we have shaped them. From Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in which the goddess Artemis transforms Actaeon into a stag while he is hunting in the forest transforming him into the hunted, to Michelangelo Frammartino’s amazingly beautiful and highly recommendable cinematographic work Alberi, a visual tour de force of sight and sound depicting a strange annual tradition in Southern Italy of celebrating ’tree men’ of a local forest, it is, fundamentally, a relationship of change and transformation.

Treeman, Alberi, Michelangelo Frammartino

 Treeman (detail), Alberi, Michelangelo Frammartino

Recently Melancholia III has in itself changed and transformed into a project of another scale and timespan including collaborative terrain building with an old friend and a pilgrimage to the heart of the Imperium. Both share the same DNA drawn from this relationship and the plethora of ‘weird morphologies and uncanny doublings’ that have emerged from it

In short, it has turned into a pilgrimage in itself fuelled by a profound fascination of the weathered worlds of the 41st and 42nd Millennium and humanity’s relationship with the concept of ‘nature’ in a galaxy of untold worlds torn by war and strife.

Happy New Year – and watch this space!

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