Famous Fictional: It’s the Dawn, You’ll See

Each year Mad Art Gallery hosts one of my favorite arts shows: Famous Fictional. The exact theme changes each year, but always revolves around fictional characters in some capacity. This year the theme was “Famous Fictional Goes to 11!” and featured art that depicted fictional bands. That is to say, bands that don’t exist in real life, but only in books or movies. (think Hedwig from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, or The Soggy Bottom Boys from O Brother Where Art Thou.)

I was lucky enough to participate in Famous Fictional for the first time this year, and I added a little twist on my band selection, by choosing a band that sort of exists in real life, and sort of doesn’t – Gorillaz.

Gorillaz are an English virtual band created in 1998 by musician Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett. The band consists of four animated members: 2-D (lead vocals, keyboards), Murdoc Niccals (bass guitar), Noodle (guitar, keyboards) and Russel Hobbs (drums and percussion). These members are fictional and are not personas of any “real life” musicians involved in the project.[1] Their fictional universe is explored through the band’s music videos, as well as a number of other short cartoons. In reality, Albarn is the only permanent musical contributor, and the music is often a collaboration between various musicians. – Wikipedia

So while most of the artists for the show were taking real-life people and illustrating them in some way, I was taking illustrated people and making them real life. Well, sort of.

I have loved the Gorillaz for more than a decade, particularly virtual member Noodle, whose backstory is compelling, and whose dance style is irresistible. Noodle starred in my favorite video from Gorillaz, El Mañana (beautifully animated by Passion Pictures) which is one of the most hauntingly surreal explorations of technology vs. the natural world, and joy vs. destruction, that I have ever seen. The video makes me profoundly sad whenever I watch it, so I naturally had to dive in deeper and splash around in that feeling.

I decided to re-create a series of four frames from that video, and I had a perfect model in Tessa Auza, who agreed immediately as soon as I suggested the project. I shot her in my studio in South City.

Here are the original shots and finished pieces for the show, along with screen caps of the frames I was re-creating.

Frame One

Frame Two

Frame Three

Frame Four

The composites were created using other photos and textures I’d shot, as well as some stock imagery.

Here are the finished pieces at Mad Art. I felt very strongly about keeping each image in 16:9 format, so that it would mimic the proportions of the video. I achieved this by creating a letterbox effect on each image and having them printed on ultra matte paper and mounted on gatorboard. This was a fun project to work on, and a great show to see. It’s hanging at Mad Art through the end of the year, so stop by and check it out if you have a chance.

P.S.: Here’s a link to the video, which I can’t recommend highly enough.





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