Kiko Kiturami vs. the (Men) In Her Head (mixed media, 2017)

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Kiko Kiturami vs the (Men) In Her Head (mixed media, 2017)
So this is my newest painting, I just finished it last night.

It’s a frame from a graphic novel that I haven’t written yet. Well, it’s a frame from a comic inside of a graphic novel. A comic that might or might not be real, about a girl that might or might not be real/missing? I know, at this point I’m just being purposefully

The (Men):

I’m not sure anyone will even ask, but the Japanese character in the center is 面, which is pronounced “men” and translates to “mask.” I learned about it from a book called What’s Japanese About Japan, which I bought from Goodwill for the title alone. (Excuse my ignorance, but wouldn’t a book called “What’s NOT Japanese About Japan be a little less redundant?) I’ve had it for probably four years, and I’ve never looked at it.

UNTIL

I was procrastinating on something else (of course) and decided that the ONLY medium which would allow me the freedom to truly express myself was… collage. I think it was at that moment that I evolved into my true form: 45 year old scrapbooker from Ohio named Joy. And then I murdered Joy’s innocence by using her artistic passion to depict a decapitated girl. Sorry Joy. Life is hard, and it hates you.

Anyways.

The crowd in Kiko’s head came from that book. And so did 面. Actually, the entire inspiration from the painting, and some of its meaning, was inspired by a passage, describing how a face and a mask are sometimes the same thing:

“A face in the crowd. We do not know the man, but we think we know the face. We have seen that face many times before, on men who were happy and on men who were sad, on men who were angry and men who were bored, on men who were sure that they were right and on men who were uncertain.”

The book goes on to explain that in some Japanese arts, like noh and kabuki, the mask and face blur together, so that it is either unclear or unimportant which is real.

“Once, puppets imitated people, and this entertainment fave rise to a new art form where people imitated puppets.” 

I was intrigued by the idea of “mask” being pronounced “men,” as if the idea of being “a man” is something of a mask that someone can wear to depict an idea, rather than an actual expression of the person inside. Or even, more broadly, if “men” (in the ‘realms of men/all humans usage), are never not wearing a mask, because their “mask” is their face, which can be manipulated or left blank to suit the wearer’s purpose.

The idea went through several iterations, and more than a few horrible sketches, but for some reason I kept coming back to the idea that it was Kiko, and once I figured out the story behind it, the piece came together quickly.

WHO IS KIKO?

Kiko Kiturami is the sister of the MeiMei Kiturami, and she’s missing. MeiMei finds a comic book that depicts Kiko in a violent, terrifying, and more than a little surreal situation. MeiMei is desperate to find Kiko, but she also is scared and confused. Before she found the comic book, MeiMei didn’t realize her sister was missing. Before she found the comic book, MeiMei didn’t realize she had a sister.

DUN DUN DUN. etc.

What I’m most proud of:

  • My drop-shadowed Japanese character (that I was terrified to mess up/mis-translate despite cross-referencing it like 30 times)
  • The smoothness, post-editing (in real life there’s a lot more texture on her face… because I glued it on over the crowd picture.)
  • The purple tile (I got this canvas from Goodwill and it was pre-colored lavender (!!) and when I realized I was going to be covering it up almost completely I was v sad that I was wasting such a magical find. Thankfully, I decided to make it into purple tile and voila, I spent an hour looking at the ugliest bathrooms in the world as references. I love how it turned out.)
  • Her weird asymmetricality.  (surely there is a noun of this word??) At first, I thought I was going to have to repaint her eyes and hair, because they ended up being very strangely different  from each other, but after finishing the piece I actually like it. It kind of looks like the left side (our right side) is an older version of the same Kiko, her hair and face are longer, and the features are generally less childlike. This fits with the weirdness of the
  • That damn crossword puzzle

I entered this into a contest (the deadline was midnightPST/ 3amEST. I finished at 1:30AM. I like to stay completely in-character at all times.) And although I don’t think I will win (I’ve seen the other entries and they are… much more in-theme…) it was an excellent way to force a deadline… I doubt I would have finished this piece anytime this year without it. Now, if only there were a contest for vacuuming my house.

W

This is my favorite song of today, and also the saddest song I know.

My year living in Korea felt a lot like living in a with my  head in a bubble. Like a bubblehead charm of English. Like a helmet to reassure my brain that it was still functioning, despite not comprehending any of the information flooding it.

There were people– many people– around me that spoke English. But they were usually grouped together at destination points, like the glowing beacons of understanding at the end of a long trudge through… wait what am I saying? I was thinking of a video game character that had a glowing light around them because you could talk to them, unlike the other NPCs or something, I don’t know, we’ll unpack that later.

What I mean is at times I felt completely alone. (Don’t awww.) It was refreshing in a way I didn’t realize I was craving. I could stand on the roof of my apartment building at 3 in the morning and know that nobody on Earth could say with 100% certainty where I was at that moment, save myself.

Of course, capital ‘L’ Loneliness is inevitable eventually, wherever you are. But honestly, after the first two weeks of satiny panic (culture shock), the loneliness morphed into something insulating, even comforting. Like a… Thundershirt? What I’m saying is… I was a puppy and it was storming outside, and the fact that I didn’t really have to talk to that many people while coping with the rising panic was my Thundershirt.

Yes. That’s good. That’s quality writing. People come to this blog for a reason.

Anyway, regular life is an absolute barrage of information, usually information that you take in unconsciously. It wasn’t until I moved to Korea with zero knowledge of the language that it really struck me how much of that constant information flow is language-based. Do you want to do an experiment?

Ok.

Look up from your computer for a second. No, I mean after you read the rest of these instructions, come on. Are there books around you?Can you read the titles at a glance? Do you have any

Or maybe you’re outside. Are there street signs around? What about shopfronts? Where would be the closest place to get food? Do you know because someone told you and pointed it out, or because you read the sign? Was it almost like your brain read it before you even told it to? Do any of the words or book titles or signs or roads mean anything to you? Maybe you live on a street with the name of a famous city, and you know the city because you learned about it at school, and you’ve watched Anthony Bourdain tour around eating its most photogenic food, and once you wrote a paper on the mayor who helped found a famous hat shop. When you read that word, you are slightly more in touch with the outside world than you were the moment before, because of these layers of familiarity.

However, when you are walking down the street or sitting in a coffee shop or combing through racks of clothing in a place with an unfamiliar language, none of these layers of familiarity exist. I want to say “your brain reaches out for any source of familiarity, trying to add context to the information it is drowning in,” but I don’t know anything about what your brain does, so samesies, but mine.

Getting on a bus or a subway or walking down the street having crowds of voices around me without the, allowed my thoughts a lot of time to parade around in my head uninterrupted, and allowing me a lot of time to sit quietly and listen to them.

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I started working on a tiny film I want to make about a girl named Annie or possibly Winnie or possibly something else being sent to work the solitary, mind-numbing, and minimum-wage job of tending to a one-man satellite in the upper middle regions of Earth’s orbit. The story quickly became more complicated than that, but I’m sure I’ll get to that later.

There was something about the feeling of being so far away, combined with being able to go for entire days without speaking to someone, without being able to speak to another person, that leant itself (rather bluntly) to writing a character that spends the story in a state of isolation. Plus, you know, space is dope. It started me thinking about this idea of having a familiar concept, being presented in an unfamiliar (at least to me) way. My character, Annie (or Winnie or WhateveR), does some fairly outrageous things, but my idea for the visuals of the film is to go overly-cliche, insipid even, in the way the scenes are shot. In the coloring, in the scene layouts, in the <insert other professional-sounding film things here>, I want to highlight the major differences between the real world and Annie’s perception bubble.

Does this sound like Underwater Matrix to anyone else? Ok, new plan. Scrap everything I just said, I’m going to start writing Underwater Matrix 2. (Because obviously as soon as I publish this someone’s going to steal the Underwater Matrix idea, and being a slow writer I will be finishing just in time to cash in on that sweet sequel cash.)

Oh right, right. This is a blog post not just a thought dump. Hmmm. Right. Oh! The Commander Thinks Aloud by The Long Winters. AKA the reason I started writing this blog post. I first heard this song on one of my long, long subway rides, autoplaying podcasts and staring at the crazy amount of people packed into the streets of Seoul.

In the podcast interview which you should definitely listen to, the songwriter John Roderick, of the Long Winters, explains that he wrote The Commander Thinks Aloud about the moment on February 1st, 2003 when the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart upon reentering the atmosphere, killing all seven crew members. The way Roderick tries to think through this horrific tragedy from the mind of the Commander of a doomed crew, that moment when you know for a fact that all is lost and yet you are still alive for a little while longer… It hurts. When you listen to him, and when you listen to the song again. It makes it personal.

This is a big part of the feeling I want to explore with Annie.

Ok, this has gone on long enough, see you next time.

W

 

A (Thurs)Day in the Life

6:00: First alarm goes off. Wish for death. Repeatedly. Snapchat a complaint so the universe knows I am displeased. Get a response immediately, of course someone else is also having to work this early in the morning. We are adults now. Feel sort of humbled, but mostly still grumpy.

6:15 Hear Walker wake up. Ok, I get it universe, everyone has a day job, you can stop being so smug now.

6:30 Sulkily put on the only orange shirt that I own, slide into my mermaid tail blanket and start my first class. Fake smile eventually turns into real smile because ok, I’m sorry, but these are the cutest children on Earth.

6:40 Every time I give Tom a star he smiles really huge and then immediately tries to hide it like he doesn’t care. I cannot stop smiling, shut up.

8:30 Finish with my classes for the day and immediately take Ned’s needy ass for a walk.

8:35 Did I say walk? I meant all-out sprint.

8:40 Can’t breathe

8:50 Eating rice and gravy for breakfast and planning my day out so I don’t end up passed out on the couch at noon taking a siesta

9:00 Starting my Etsy work for the day! For the next hour I’ll be making pizzas for my Keep It Supreme necklaces. 😀

10:30 Soooooo it took almost an hour just to roll the clay for the dough and tint it to the right color. This is why you don’t take two weeks between crafting projects, all your materials decide to give up. I’m changing jobs and working on my STEAMTruck lesson plan now.

11:00 jk lol I’m tumbling

11:45 Ok, now for real I’m going to work on this lesson plan despite it being boring and despite how many Youtube tabs I have right now begging to be watched

12:30 Actually getting some stuff done! I forgot how nitpicky lesson plans are. Lunchtime!

1:30 Get back to work. Quickly realize I’m not doing anything productive on my lesson plan, and grumpily make polymer clay pizzas for the rest of the day.

4:30 Realize I’ve fucked up about half the pizzas I made. Want to cry.

4:35 Realize that tomorrow is the inauguration of the worst sack of cheetos that ever masqueraded as a human. Actually cry.

4:45 Realize this is probably not the best day to record in a blog post. Stop making notes about my activities and surrender myself to the void.

 

I’ll try harder next time.

The first week of the year of Fuck It 1/52

So. Hey, this is me breaking one of my new year’s resolution already, that way I begin the year in the same way I will continue it: always playing catchup. This the year of Fuck It- the world is probably ending soon, we should probably all just throw ourselves onto whatever train we’re most interested in and hold on until our fingers break or they open the doors and chuck us out.

So here are my New Year’s Resolutions. Or Goals.

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My nails are bitten to nothing, I’ve read 0 books, and I missed the first week of vlog/blogging, but I wrote a new short script (featuring a dancing mop!) and watched a few movies:

  1. Exit Through the Gift Shop
  2. The Shining
  3. Amadeus
  4. The 13th

This is the third time I’ve watched Amadeus since I first saw it in December. I need to stop watching it, but it truly is the best movie I’ve seen in SO FUCKING LONG. Every time I watch it I fall more in love. It’s so long, but every minute keeps my attention. It’s just. It’s made for me.

The Shining is also beautiful, but I knew it was going to be because I watched the documentary about it (Room… insert the famous room number here. 204?)

The 13th was incredible, though I think I should watch it again because I was drinking a Walker-made drink and therefore don’t think I really took it in at the level it deserves.

These weekly blogs are probably all going to be like this- disjointed, a little hard to read, and mostly just for me.

W