This blog was created as a tie in to my graphic novel(la) series Threshold, an ongoing project first initiated in the final year of my BFA. This series, and contextual material surrounding it, is currently forming the bulk of my MA practice. Central to the series is the city of Threshold: a topographically unstable and ever-shifting morass of in-between and tranistory spaces that silts into existence at narrative peripheries.

The intent is to create a space where the city of Threshold, and the conceptual basis behind it, can be fleshed out in greater detail than is possible in the graphic novel format, and to tie in some of the other projects involving the city that are only alluded to elsewhere.

All completed installments of the series can be viewed on this blog, while printed copies are available at http://stores.lulu.com/arcanestudios or through APE Games at http://www.ookoodook.com/.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cities That Have Come Before pt. 2

The city of Threshold is inspired by a number of other cities, both real and fantastic. It is, moreover, curiously apt that a location literally composed of the cast-off bits of other locales’ in-between spaces make reference (subtle in some cases; glaringly obvious in others) to the places from which it borrows. What follows is a brief, and by no means complete, survey of some of my inspirations for the city:

Sigil

Introduced in AD&D's Planescape product line and immortalized for many in the 1999 PC game Planescape: Torment, the city of Sigil is the epitome of a cosmopolitan hub, literally situated at the centre of a multiverse of planes of existance. Known alternately as "The City of Doors" and "The Cage", Sigil juxtaposes travel and confinement: it is frequently easy to get to, but difficult to leave, despite the near limitless number of locales it connects. Intrinsic to the function of the city are the Factions: Philosophical-Political parties that operate key public facilities in accordance with their outlook. The Dustmen, for example, espouse the idea that life and death are illusionary states, and that one can attain the enlightenment of True Death through ascetic denial of emotion and physical wants and needs. Consequently, they run the Mortuary, preparing bodies for burial. The Society of Sensation, by contrast, believes that the path to enlightenment lies in experiential knowledge accumulated through the senses. They operate the city's Civic Festhall. The parallels between Sigil and Threshold should be fairly evident; Planescape Torment is, after all, cited in the epigraph of the very first issue. Threshold's "factions", however, are not quite so formal, and operate in somewhat of a different way. Rather than existing independently as like-minded groups and adopting a headquarters that suits their philosophy, individuals are instead drawn to particular locations in Threshold based on what those locations represent. The "faction" grows organically, incorporating multiple interpretations of an Ur-Location into an ideology.

Dark City

A chaotic bricolage of towering buildings that warp and shift in accordance with unknown designs; an air of Gothic Noir; a cast of characters whose identities are in continual flux; warped perceptions of time--Dark City lives in Threshold in one form or another. Interestingly enough, I didn't see the film several months after I started the Threshold project. It was lent to me by a friend, and I watched it on the Red Arrow on my way down to Calgary. I recall that the opening scene of a naked, mutilated woman found dead in a hotel room absolutely horrified the lady sitting next to me. She moved to another seat shortly thereafter. While I was drawn to the atmosphere of the film straight away, I was initially disappointed with the plot structure. The voice-over at the beginning gave entirely too much away, ruining the suspense. I gather this has been rectified in the Director's Cut.

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