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I started this image a week ago, not sure what it was going to be, as usual, starting with a model shot with no background. As I added things into it, I started seeing some things I like, but something wasn't clicking. I decided to keep what I built up, and replaced the underlying model shot with another one. Bingo. That did it - and that became "Is There Something I Should Know?" which became one of my personal favorite pieces I have created thus far. It was crisp and clean, and I knew exactly what it was trying to say. I felt it was a success, at least creatively, for me.
After completing a three day edit for "Stories For Boys" I was pretty sure I was due for a day off or more, to recharge the creative batteries. But as I was backing up files, I came across this one again, the starting point for "Is There Something I Should Know" and I started playing with it again. That one was about following creative impulses and letting them guide you, and once I turned down the lights and made the palette of this one colder, the idea of creating a sequel or a conclusion to it was tempting. I have long wanted to experiment with doing pieces of three in a series, a triptych piece, so this notion of connecting ideas and images together with common elements or events is a direction I seem to be headed in, and the symbolism of three has been something I have been playing with for a few pieces as well.
So with this, this is an imagined outcome to the journeyman in "Is There Something I Should Know?" - and maybe this man has followed his muse to a sad conclusion, where nothing lives or breathes, and all is in a state of decay. It could be the tired mind personified, the depletion of creative vigor, the twilight of life, where aspirations slow and slump and the youthful passions mellow from time, from resistance and a growing sense of nihilism. In the distance, we see the same young man from the earlier piece, still following his instincts, unaware that others have come this way, others have broken this ground already, and this path is not the one to follow.
I say "maybe" because for me, this is open-ended in my mind too - I have a sense of what this is saying, but strangely, this piece is asking me questions, rather than me adding answers to it consciously. The two pieces were very satisfying to work on - it felt like solving a puzzle, it felt like writing, and the environment, that field, the ladders, the guiding psychic strings, instead of being a mere backdrop for the central image, was almost palpable - someplace I could almost see myself in, and wanted to be in. It was as close as I have come to creating a vital dreamscape, in my opinion, and as sad as I am to see it go for now, I am glad it found its way into two pieces. Look into the distance, and there is the young man from the earlier image.
My title comes from one of my favorite songs, itself a surrealist piece, with allegorical images filled with personal symbolism, by Rickie Lee Jones. It was running though my head all day as I worked on this, so it seemed insistent to attach itself to my image. Particularly I was drawn to these lines:
Maybe you want another world
One where heaven doesn't weight so much...
Well I've got something warm inside me
It won't let you fall 'til I see
Somewhere better than this place
Some night you'll open your eyes and live far away
Somewhere better than the world where we live...
I'm an aviator now
Atlas hold me in your arms, I'll fly…
Model: Mike Ryan (with Gilberto Mendez in the distance)
by Michael Bilotta
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