Mind's Eye Theater, 2022 Edition

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2022-12-31 12:00:01 No comments

Among many of the nice goodies I received for my birthday this year, one was a recently published compilation of the design work of Syd Mead. You know him from Blade Runner and TRON and Star Trek: The Motion Picture and tons of other things. A valuable component of the book is how much material it contains about projects he worked on that never saw the light of day, such as the live-action Jetsons movie. Whatever I might think of the merits of that project, I could scarcely think of anyone more suited to creating its visuals. Mead seemed to be tapping into a Jetsons future for everything he did. It's one flavor of a future I have wanted to write about, although for me Mead would be a starting point rather than a destination for such things.

Many of my physical book acquisitions of late have been monographs for some artist, or some tome related to design. The projects I'm mulling right now need visualization aids — ways for me to see in my mind's eye what they need to become. The words always come after the images for me, so I now seek out images more aggressively than I do words. This isn't to say I'm bored of reading (especially reading SF&F), only that what I am reading is rarely in the same category of what I'm trying to produce. I keep looking outwards towards other things, for it's elsewhere that I feel I'll find the most useful and fruitful input.

Some of the artist I now have on deck for that kind of input are longtime favorites: Mead, Sorayama, Giger, Gottfried Helnwein. Some I only recently discovered, like Ralph Gibson, or can now explore without bankrupting myself, like Yoshitaka Amano. In every case the images they offer are not what I'm seeking to reproduce in my own work, but a jumping-off point, a doorway to walk through to get to where I want to be. That ends up being one of the traps of taking visual inspiration: it seems easy enough to just describe what you see and be done with it. But I always want to push past that. Why do these things look this way? What's the larger world around them, the circumstances that gave rise to them?

Right now I have at least two, possibly three, projects gestating that need imagery to give them full form. For one of them, there's no one source for such images — it's wherever I can find them. For another, there are specific artists in my library who suggest themselves strongly as the key inspirations. I have to fight to keep the latter from taking priority over the former — again, because I don't want my job to be only that of an "aesthetic stenographer", for lack of a better term. I don't want to just write down what I see, but look behind the picture, follow where it goes. It's too easy for me to settle for 

Still, every time I see an artist whose work makes me tell myself, "There's a story there," I know I'm on the right track.

See you next year.

Tags: Syd Mead creativity design visualization