After the dream sequences, I wanted to explore other interests I had – but in an only semi-personal way. I find that usually my best technique explorations accompany theme explorations and personal introspection. That is – I started on the concept of Brother Melon – some kind of monk character that was also technically savvy – and the method began to present itself as I followed the themes. The themes of the Brother Melon phase of my actual life mixed with fantasy weighs heavily on the interplay of light and dark – of glowing luminescent concepts shrouded in darkness, inaccessible. I spent a lot of the last decade reading philosophy, theology, mysticism and wisdom literature. In sum: I’m not strictly a skeptic about what we can know, but I certainly don’t think it’s orderly or presents itself in common-sense ways. At the same time, rationalism and empiricism have their own kind of internal consistency – and so having orderly blocky textures isn’t just a sort of reference to technology, but it’s also an analogy for how some kinds of knowledge work.
I explored some new textures using a Processing script I found called vector drift – and I combined that with my own image-brushed patterns, taking those and making them stark black and white textures after the fact. Why? Because the theme for these is the darkness with bone-white pixels sticking out from it, black unknowable things with light and color erupting from it. Strokes of vibrant color weaving through the much more difficult black and white of actual knowledge. To make the black and white for the central shapes, I didn’t want to use old textures, so I found some ink and some paper, used some kind of wet drawing techniques to get acceptably whispy designs that I could make glow. This is the whole mood: glowing whispy light, contained and wrapped in black. The main series then became meditations on thoughts I found beautiful. Leaves from notebooks.
The technique of making the backgrounds was so satisfying though, I experimented a little more with drawing out some lines, making some bare bits of structure to connect pixels and patterns – and those became the symbols of the little fleeting bits of wisdom, questions, thoughts, the sorts of things relegated to the margins of my books – of books in museums in the margins. The references in there are oblique q.v. (quo vadis) and (cf. confer) bits to refer the viewer to the texts that I was musing on while constructing the pixel arrangements.
The avatar is just a photoshop of Bonaventure (who is the third leaf quote) combined with some other Franciscan painting and Freddie Mercury’s sunglasses from an oil painting of him. I like the feeling of combining them into a character that is only semi-serious, since this subject matter is actually closer to my heart than most of my work.
Another fun just altered version of sgt_slaughtermelon was Professor Melonius. This is probably in the same world as Dr. Jaredos Scottsley – but after the brother_melon_marginalia I was working on a series with FiveTimesNo. I should mention that Professor Melonius isn’t just a complete fabrication – but I genuinely imagined myself leading this kind of life for a while. I’m fully aware that I’m not an expert in philosophy or history or whatever, but I enjoy reading it and reading about it. I sometimes wish I’d had the time and education to be more officially philosophical.
I kept asking if he would do something with that style with me, and right around the peak of my immediate post-artblocks popularity I posted a series in three parts called “professor_melonius_secular_marginalia.” The statement on those art pieces minted through Foundation was this:
“In another timeline, sgt_slaughtermelon’s life took a slightly different turn and became thoroughly academic, bookish, and reclusive. Professor Melonius as an idea still exists, and he works away at his tiny university post constructing an entire world from books and ideas. These are expressions of what the notes on the margins of his books are like, the scribbles and ideas from his collection that make lovely complex thoughts, incomplete and fragmented since Melonius isn’t real, and can’t finish a thesis in unreality.”
If you’ve seen the pattern here, this is just a similar concept to Brother Melon – only these marginalia are from “secular” authors. So if Brother Melon is a monk, these are notes from an urbane professor type from the likes of Cicero, Confucius, etc. FiveTimesNo thought it’d be neat to take some autoRAD designs (I think ones he owned?) and use this GenerateMe script on them, and then that left my job as taking these crazy pink blue and yellow designs and crafting geometric compositions out of them. When they first showed up in my inbox, they reminded me a lot of the text from an Architecture in Helsinki album:
So I just ran with it and cobbled the beautiful textures together – tried to find interesting contrasts. One interesting thing about the way this script works is it generates all these kind of wispy drawn out mechanical-looking lines. I don’t usually use that sort of thing: I previously liked my lines to feel more solid, more constructive. These lines are afterthoughts or something akin to circuitboard elements draped across large spaces. This also means that the compositions for professor_melonius pieces have a different relationship with the negative space. If Brother Melon has a very dark solid center with light inexplicably welling up, Professor Melonius has a beautiful and mechanistic structure formed like computer webs around an empty heart, a core that is value-less and rational as it is light and beautiful. I minted all three at once on Foundation (insane gas fees at the time) but I was trying to put myself in a position where I felt like I’d taken advantage of a key moment in time and didn’t sit on my hands at all. At the same time, I think these are really unique – the compositions are a bit more airy and the texture that GenerateMe figured out is – I think – on par with Kim Asendorf’s pixelsorting algorithms in terms of creating reliably satisfying imagery with crazy complexity.
The third of that series didn’t sell immediately, and so that was kind of my personal top signal to slow down. I pitched the idea of doing more of these eventually since I loved the results, and FiveTimesNo agreed – but this time using Lazlo Lissitsky pieces to create similar textures using some of the pseudo-modernist and swiss modern design that the Lazlo project created. It was a decidedly different mood – and so we considered re-coloring them for a minute, but eventually settled on just having the series feel different after those first 3. The markets were pretty unpredictable, and more projects came and went, and it was something like a year later when I was sorting some old files and thinking about FiveTimesNo as he endured some difficult circumstances when I remembered that we had a handful of designs we never really decided what to do with. Glitchforge.xyz had just launched the On Demand branch a couple of weeks ago, and so we agreed it would be very cool to finish and release the rest of this series as “lost_marginalia” since that’s really what it was – lost works. I finished ripping off some art by James Yamasaki and making a fun promo image for the character and series and then released 9 new designs, sort of neo-modernist glitch art compositions. The new On Demand mechanic at Glitch Forge means that you purchase from this collection and it mints a random one – a pretty fun gimmick, but I wanted to test it for a smaller collection like this where each piece took a considerable amount of time to make and so sells for more. Time will tell whether that was a good strategy or what it means for Glitch Forge. Either way, I love these pieces and hope I get to do another series of them with FiveTimesNo one day.