Red In the Sky, Red in the Ground - Tracking a Current Project

January 5, 2014

In this blog I will track the development of my current project. (Working title: Suburban Red)


So far I'm at the idea stage.  I started with a color scheme - Black and Red.  I've thought about these colors.  Took walks noticing these colors in leaves and trees.  Looked at black and red schemed artwork on the web.  Tossed story ideas in my head.  Made some sketches (will post later).


A Tale of Two Red Marbles

While digging up the ground and preparing a bed of earth for a Spring garden I found perfectly round dirt clods which, upon rubbing off the dirt, turned out to be marbles.  I found 24 total.  They were buried long ago, who knows when.  My family has lived in this house since 1967.  Then I unearthed a red marble and suddenly I felt a warm sensation in my heart.  (marble on left in photo) Because my heart responded I decided that this red marble had to have something to do with my next project. 


After living in the suburbs for several months, (I moved down to Sunnyvale from San Francisco in the beginning of Fall 2013), I was filled with old feelings of isolation that I had in the past living in the suburbs. People live in rows of boxes, rarely walking the streets, and I quickly noticed the difference between walking about in SF and the sparse silence of Sunnyvale.  Though there was the ever flowing stream of cars on streets like Mary Avenue or El Camino, I could see the the stars in the sky much more than in SF.  However, I felt that isolation feeling that I felt when I lived here as a young adult and it made me feel angry at the suburbs.  The suburbs seemed to breed false ideas of safety and conformity. 


For whatever reason the color red started to surface within my mind.  There is an anger in red, yet also a hot steady focus.  Then I started sensing black pushing through the red.  From there I knew that I wanted to respond to the suburban environment with red and black and it seemed to mean my story would have a certain Punk edge.  I had left Sunnyvale with that bit of a punk edge in the 80s and now it was time to bring it back into my life.  Perhaps my heart was buried somewhere within punk attitude.


Images started to stir and surface and I realized that the dragon puppet that I used for my last video was red with black horns and I remember I liked that look.  I had shot some test footage of the dragon months ago in the night and I liked that something ghostly and shadowy came out in the image.  A ghost dragon in the night casting shadows on the suburban homes!


Some further ideas that I have :

There is a dragon that may or may not be lingering in the night skies of suburbia - maybe its a legend.  There are red glowing streaks of light appearing in the sky.  Are they tests from the nearby air force base?  Various people are seeing the glow.  Things are being unearthed from the ground - in particular, red marbles  Within these marbles are worlds or a things that seems to be alive - or are they apparitions?


The setting for this story, which I'm thinking can be several stories eventually strung together, is a suburban town, like Sunnyvale California.  For inspiration I've been glaring over issues of the Hernandez brother's comic world Love and Rockets, and decided that I would, in some way, take a comic book approach.


The Story of Two Red Marbles


At first, not knowing what I would do for a video, I did know I wanted to do something with the marbles that I had dug up and especially the red one.  I wanted to recreate the scene of unearthing marbles so I mix up a little vat of mud and muddied up the marbles and placed them in the sun to dry.  Several days later I looked for the dirt clodded marbles and they were all gone.  Nowhere to be found.  I looked everywhere and had a sense of some paranormal activity where the marbles didn't want to be unburied - like some childhood didn't want to be dug up?  Another possibility is that squirrels or crows had taken them.  More likely the squirrels I've been told.  Finally I thought I would at least look through the mud that was spilled to the side after laying out the marbles.  It was now a little mound of dirt clod and I broke through it and then found a marble.  It was the red marble!  Was something telling me that if I was to unbury the past then I should only do it if there was heart involved?  Serendipitous things start to happen sometimes durning art making.


Last week I visited with my nephew Tony in San Jose.  We talked in his back yard for a while.  There was a large hole dug up that my brother and Tony's brother, my other nephew had been digging.  I told him "It looks like a grave for King Kong."  As I told Tony about my video series idea and the red marble he told me that while digging the hole his brother found a red marble.  A marble Tony would play with as a child.  He brought it out and gave it to me (marble on the right in photo) and I have them on my window pane to reflect the morning sun and for inspiration. 

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January 5, 2014

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