I’m lazy by nature, and so I always need a carrot at the end of a stick to keep me going and to make sure I achieve anything. When it comes to my art, that carrot is competitions like Unearthly challenge. The carrot in this case doesn’t specifically mean the prizes (because clearly I’m not going to win), but the experience and exposure that I get just from from joining. This isn’t some Pollyanna “it’s how you play the game” kind of crap, mind you. Being freelance and not being part of a larger organization, I often feel that I’m missing out on the skills one picks up in that kind of situation, and this is my way of compensating.
The theme for this year’s unearthly challenge is “end game”. As the unearthly challenge website explains it:
In Unearthly Challenge 2009, your mission is to portray End Game as a game level, game scene or event that suggests the essence of the two words – End Game. It can be a final powerful looking boss level, the aftermath of a legendary battle scene, an epic occurrence that suggests an end is coming, a stairway to an intimidating portal, a road that ends in a pit of fire, or more. How you portray End Game and how you depict an atmosphere that entices viewers to want to know more, we leave it all up to you. Remember, your final work must be clear, with no explanations required, how the scene depicts the essence of – End Game.
In the initial thumbnails (seen above) I actually ignored the theme and just played around with an idea I’ve had for a while, a makeshift raft city inspired by China Mieville’s Armada and the rafts that people macgyvered together during Ondoy and similar meteorological phenomenon. I’ve always been oddly fascinated with makeshift things, dating back to my childhood when I cobbled together a handheld fan out of a Tamiya mini 4wd chassis, a pocket knife, and some super glue. I suppose it taps into my inner efficiency freak, where I hate having anything go to waste (I have a pair of shoes that I’ve been using since the 8th grade, almost a decade and a half ago).
The second batch of thumbnails tries to address the “end game” theme a little more closely, with mixed results. The one idea I came away with was the symbol of an anchor being the main focus of the piece. In a city that is tossed about haphazardly by the currents of the sea, the Anchor represents stability, and thus a cult has been built around the worship and control of the anchor. The cult of the anchor controls the use of numerous anchors, which have been kept down ever since the city found a spot of sea with reasonable weather to live in. However in recent times another religious organization has sprung up from the ranks of the children born on the Raft: The cult of the Sail. They represent forward movement, control over one’s destiny, and the search for dry land (hello, waterworld!). I’m imagining an image depicting the final fall of the cult of the Anchor, which is somewhat difficult considering the competition allows for no human or animal bodies in the image.
While writing this, I stumbled upon the idea of a sail being unfurled, symbolically using the torn down symbol of the anchor as a mast. Lord knows whether or not I’ll have time to finish this, but I’ll certainly do my best to keep this blog updated while I’m at it.