I don’t want to have to animate a hand by hand. So I made this articulated “bone” model. Problem is, it’s a little stiff, and there’s no way to make the white outlines smooth and even. It seems like a nice smooth hand would be easy enough; the problem is when the fingers go in front of each other, as in the making of a fist. Then you need layers, where each part of a digit that obscures any other part is on another layer. This model has 16 layers: one for each “bone” of the fingers, plus a palm that is also warped by the “bones,” albeit not enough.
Many battles, much polarization; we are splitting into sides. Online especially, there is right and wrong, good and bad, the “right side of history” and the wrong. Even saying “the right side of history” implies petty, idiotic opinions are of world-altering significance.
The Book of Revelation is the ultimate story of Good vs. Evil, black vs. white. It’s also the ultimate revenge story. John of Patmos was a persecuted early Christian, exiled to a penal colony, expelled from society; cancelled, as we’d say today. He was righteous and angry. He had time to imagine, in elaborate detail, the comeuppance of his oppressors. Isn’t this what we all do, if we have the time? Imagine our torturers being tortured tenfold in return, in delicious detail. It is notably un-Christian. You are supposed to forgive. You are supposed to understand. You are supposed to seek peace, to love thy enemy.
Not John! John fantasizes his enemies getting stung by locusts, rained on by fire, and cast into the pit of hell. In Revelation, neither he, nor Jesus, nor God Himself have compassion for sinners. Won’t his oppressors be sorry when they see John and his ilk rise up into heaven, while they get hurt and humiliated and tortured! Haha, turnabout is fair play! John may be motivated by that, but as far as his Jesus and God are concerned, this is simply the nature of things, the arc of justice, the “history” one is on the right or wrong side of.
Revelation’s End of the World is imagined as a war. It feels like war right now. My own little battle hill, Mount Ladyfeels, feels like a war between women and misogynists, reality and fantasy, mental health and mental illness, truth and lies. But which side is which? Each end of the pole believes it has Truth on its side. I try to stay out of fights, but I’ve gotten into this one: women don’t have penises, women are female, humans cannot change sex, gender is oppressive. To the other side, this is hate speech and I’m a nazi.
Armageddon is online. Armageddon is the Last Battle, saints against sinners. No nuance whatsoever. Have a look at twitter. Every ban of a TERF is a demon cast to hell. Look at Reddit. GenderCritical permanently eliminated: 65,000 subscribers consigned to the abyss. An angel holds the key. Righteousness is triumphing over evil! Except it’s backwards. Black is white and white is black. We’re polarized like a horseshoe magnet. Which pole is which?
So things morph in Revelation. Candlesticks are stars are churches. Seven candlesticks are also a menorah, the Jewish community from which Christianity emerges, as the Child emerges from the Woman Clothed With The Sun. Seven candlesticks, seven stars, seven churches, seven eyes of the Lamb, seven heads of the Beast. Good sevens vs Bad sevens.
Good woman, the Mother, vs Bad woman, the Whore of Babylon. The women don’t fight, they merely appear as symbols for one side or the other. There’s a third woman, the Bride of the Lamb, who is a city, the New Jerusalem. Mother, Whore, and Virgin (bride), sort of like the Triple Goddess Maiden-Mother-Crone, except no Crone. I am a crone, so I wonder what happened to Her. Is She the Whore now? In Online Armageddon, older feminists are denounced and despised. Yes, maybe that’s us.
My Animated Apocalypse will also morph, like the language of John the Divine. But in the end, even black will morph into white. Throne will morph into Beast, Lamb’s eyes into dragon’s heads, up into down, heaven into hell.
How will it end?
Why do we seek stories of “the end of the world”? The world does not end. It keeps going and going. We end though. And societies end. Someday, Civilization will end; perhaps that’s what we mean by the End of the World.
The end of the world is nothing new. The Book of Revelation has always fascinated, as people have always felt on the edge of abyss. Apocalyptic fiction continues to be written; Revelation is merely our most famous early example. This world has been ending since it was created, and it is created anew every day.
The End of the World may be an egoistic projection of us mortals, who can’t cope with the inevitability of our own deaths. If we go, our egos dictate, the World goes with us. Persecution heightens ego. When you’re a scapegoat, as John was (and as I have been), your ego is deeply wounded, along with the rest of you. It enlarges. Narcissism is a consequence of trauma. Dwelling on the End of the World is a defensive projection, to deflect the reality of death from the inflamed ego.
Civilization has never been stable, as Against the Grain by James C. Scott amply illustrates. While Civilization itself persists in various forms, individual civilizations, or societies, always fall, the individuals comprising them regrouping anew. But Civilization didn’t always exist. Humans once were bound to the rest of the natural world, without literacy or other advanced abstractions. “Everything that is created is destroyed,” say the Buddhists, so someday Civilization will go. Like Derrick Jensen, I’m rooting for this Fall, because Civilization is killing the planet.
John’s Apocalypse, though, is more the opposite: the triumph of Civilization, and the final Fall of Nature. The New Jerusalem is a city, not a forest. It is fully paved. John rapturously describes the purified metals and minerals comprising it. Nature is completely tamed; there is but one Tree, around one river that emanates from the Throne. It’s all right angles, planes and walls.
In my personal theology, a just End of the World would be a return to Nature: humans disappearing into a platonic abstract New Jerusalem, and the Earth, finally rid of us, recovering at last. But the world does not end. I will die, but the world will continue. The only end I will live to see is my own. Until then, my ego needs something to do, and dwelling on the Book of Revelation is it.
I’m now on my third set of laser-cut acrylic printing plates. Third time’s a charm. Even if it’s not, I’m not going through this again.
Below is design 3 (top) vs design 1 (bottom).
The Angel O’ Death face has become smaller still, so the wings could become proportionally bigger. Honestly I’m not sure I like this, but I’m tired and don’t want to go through yet another design iteration, so this may be it.
Momz sewed this new mask prototype, but I sewed the center seam, because it has to be sewn along the image line rather than the exact quarter-inch-from-the-fabric-edge she sews to. If I make a signed, numbered, limited edition handprinted mask run, I will be sewing all the center seams (and hopefully someone else will assemble the rest of them).
The new plates have finger holes, which are a vast improvement for handling, and work with a registration frame. Even with all the precision laser cutting, exact registration of the image on the pre-cut fabric pieces remains impossible, but this might be good enough.
Behold the glorious print process:
Oh, I actually wore one of these masks yesterday, while bicycling to Theo’s laser-cutting bunker to pick up the new plates. I’d been laid low with allergies, sneezing my face off, and thought the mask might reduce my inhalation of allergens. Maybe it did, but I will not bike with a mask again. I got out of breath quickly, and the mask became moist from my exhalations (which I then re-inhaled, hence feeling out of breath, because I’m inhaling my own CO2 instead of fresh oxygen), and when my nose got runny it got even more gross. So, not for biking. But I will wear one for shopping or other indoor public activities I can’t avoid. Still, all this work for something that’s just a drag to wear… No wonder I feel tired.
“Show more wing,” said the peanut gallery on fecebook. To make the Angel O’ Death’s face slightly smaller to make room to show a little more wing, I had to make all these paper prototypes. Each one is different. Resizing the image is an extraordinary PITA because the distortion increases at the center seam and I have to manually adjust it, print it, cut out the pieces, tape it together, turn it inside out, and then look at it head-on to see how bad the distortion is. The smaller Death’s head, the wider I have to make it, proportionally, going through this process over and over.
Finally I sent a new image to Theo, who laser cut new printing plates.
Unlike the first batch, these don’t have handles, making them easier to charge with ink, but much more difficult to use with the registration frame. So I just printed them on the uncut cotton yardage I picked up and laundered (to pre-shrink) this morning.
Looks pretty good, I think. I slather on a lot of screen printing ink with the brayer (rubber roller) to get a dark impression with swirly texture in the large flat areas.
I give the block a few whacks with the rubber mallet, because I read that traditional wood-block fabric printers hit their blocks with a hammer. I got all these impressions with no finger burnishing, so some labor was saved there.
But alas, labor was added when it was time to cut them out.
Cutting is time-consuming and fraught, which is why Theo uses his laser cutter to save vast amounts of production time. Even if we get it screen printed, it’s not certain the Angel O’ Death design on fabric can be laser cut, because the image needs to be aligned so precisely. For all-over fabric patterns, you can cut almost anywhere, but just a few millimeters off will make Death’s face all wonky.
Today’s test batch yielded enough for 8 masks. It looked (and felt!) like it should be more.
After cutting, I ironed the 16 pieces to heat set the ink.
Next, my Momz will sew one into a full-fledged mask, and if it looks good design-wise, I and/or Theo will prepare an image file to be screen printed this week or next (by the only local screen printer to answer their phone! I called 3, multiple times). Screen printing will also require a lot of work prepping and cutting, as well as money, but it’ll be less labor (for me) than block printing. It will also look less “artisanal,” but some people don’t want artisanal, they just want a big black and white Angel O’ Death on their face in a pandemic, and that’s what I aim to deliver.
UPDATE: Here is Version 2 sewn together by my talented Momz and modeled by me:
I’ve made one more modification, to make the Angel O’ Death even smaller and the wings even bigger. One more test and it’s off to the screen printers.