Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ignorance & Want

Here’s my holiday card from 2006, again, inspired by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. I received comments like,”That’s a Christmas card?”Looks more like a Halloween card! “and “People just aren’t gonna get it.”

I realized some people might not get it at first, but if they happen to catch any one of the movie versions, read the book, or see the live play, there might be that “Aha!”moment, when they remember the card and “get it.” So not only will there be the initial viewing but also remembering of the image, doubling its impact. I do know that at least one person revisited the book to gain a better understanding.

As for the Halloween card comment, it is a ghost story after all.

Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit's robe,' but I see
something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding
from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw.'

'It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,' was
the Spirit's sorrowful reply. 'Look here.'

From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children;
wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt
down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.

'Oh, Man. look here. Look, look, down here.' exclaimed the Ghost.

They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling,
wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where
graceful youth should have filled their features out, and
touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled
hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and
pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat
enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No
change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any
grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has
monsters half so horrible and dread.

Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him
in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but
the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie
of such enormous magnitude.

'Spirit. are they yours.' Scrooge could say no more.

'They are Man's,' said the Spirit, looking down upon
them. 'And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers.
This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both,
and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy,
for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the
writing be erased. Deny it.' cried the Spirit, stretching out
its hand towards the city. 'Slander those who tell it ye.
Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse.
And abide the end.'

'Have they no refuge or resource.' cried Scrooge.

'Are there no prisons.' said the Spirit, turning on him
for the last time with his own words. 'Are there no workhouses.'"
- A Christmas Carol, Stave 3: The Second of the Three Spirits

Thanks to Celeste for playing the part of Want and to her mother Toni for bring her to the studio. Thanks to my brother-in-law Rick for Playing the Ghost of Christmas Present. Present as in, right now, not Presents!

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Marley's Ghost in the Doorknocker

In keeping with the Dickens,” A Christmas Carol” theme, here is my card from last year. It’s the ghost of Jacob Marley appearing in Scrooge’s doorknocker. Jacob Marley was Scrooge’s business partner and like Scrooge, he too put profit above all else. This visage in the doorknocker is the first hint that for Scrooge, this would be no ordinary night.

Marley's face. It was not in impenetrable shadow
as the other objects in the yard were, but had a
dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark
cellar. It was not angry or ferocious, but looked
at Scrooge as Marley used to look: with ghostly
spectacles turned up on its ghostly forehead. The
hair was curiously stirred, as if by breath or hot air;
and, though the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly
motionless. That, and its livid colour, made it
horrible; but its horror seemed to be in spite of the
face and beyond its control, rather than a part or
its own expression."
- A Christmas Carol, Stave 1: Marley's Ghost

Thanks to my neighbor John for posing as Jacob Marley. He's a home inspector by trade. You can find his web site here. We tried a few shots with a wig and spectacles, as in the text but they made combinding the two images more difficult so I decided not to clone them in. I bought the lions head doorknocker on e bay and mounted it on an old door I found in our basement. I drug the door onto the deck and photographed it in open shade and filled the shadow side with a sheet of foam core. John was photographed in front of a piece of black cloth and lit from his right, with a single Cometlite head with bare reflector. A foamcore reflector was used to fill the shadow on his left. In Photoshop, I lowered the color temperture to turn the images blue, simulating night time. After opening both images I used the clone tool at 50% to superimpose John's face over the doorknocker.

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