Hi art friends. Today, we delve into the origins of The Takashima Extraction.
The story that started it all
Around 2010 or 2011, I took a bunch of photos of Ethan (Dollshe Bernard), Kaneda (Elfdoll K) and Cassie (Lilis Liv/Glorydoll hybrid). I loved the way these looked together and in the process of shooting a huge number of photos, a story began emerging.
I’d purchased this composition notebook at one of the Fred Hutch holiday craft fairs, made by Lisa Myers Bulmash. And short stories came pouring out. I added images cut from magazines that fit the story. No interior pages here, because spoilers. I intend to return to Elysian Fields for the next graphic novel.
The Takashima Extraction is the proving ground for Elysian Fields. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I’ve been working up to Elysian Fields since 2011: the Go Center Pair Go posters, teaching myself Gimp until I found the Sebastian Michaels’ classes, developing my photography skills with Sebastian Michaels, Brooke Shaden and Denise Love. All the photo work I’ve done since 2011 has been building my skills to create Lost in Elysian Fields.
“Lost in the Elysian Fields,” a Shadowrun inspired cyberpunk story about a trio of technomancers. I filled half the notebook with stories, took photos of the dolls to build a photo story to post on Den of Angels.
I was never satisfied with my imagery. I didn’t have doll stands, backgrounds or space to stage elaborate scenes with the dolls.
I had not yet begun to learn GIMP or mixed media art and my drawing skills, well, lets say they were lacking. But the story wouldn’t let me go so I took to my laptop, wrote an outline. Continued taking photos and developing each of the characters, using my ball jointed dolls (bjd) as the characters (still intending to create photo stories). I even posted some to a now-defunct blogger sites. As I worked, the scope of the story grew, so naturally, I had to buy more bjds to fill the gaps.
One of the better images I got was when I hosted a bjd meet-up at the Seattle Go Center. The tatami room was a terrific setting and many photos were taken that day. I set up this shot of a game of go in process with Cassie (in the foreground) and her opponent, Kaneda in the background. On the right are two onlookers, although I’ve long forgotten who these dolls or their owners are. For today’s post, cleaned up Cassie’s seams, straightened the image and ran it through PhotographyBB Illustrator. The Go Center bjd photos continued to drive the story. I started creating costumes and character bios.
I added details to the outline as they came to me. This story includes extractions, because that’s a thing in the Shadowrun world. The extraction team for Elysian Fields are Hiro and Ginger. At some point in Elysian Fields, a character makes a comment in reference to Hiro and Ginger about their involvement “The Takashima Extraction” along with a narrative note that Takashima is an infamous local extraction that everyone in the Seattle shadow world knows.
At this time, I was taking the Photoshop Artistry Grunge class. While I didn’t create any Takashima or Elysian canvases for the class, I did use my dolls in works. It was at this point I realized I could develop Takashima into a photo story.
I tried working on the outline for Takashima but wasn’t really feeling it. In response to one of the Awake/Kaizen assignments, I took my Dollshe Grown Saint and set up a photoshoot in my studio, using number of levels made with boxes and whatever else was laying around my studio and covered it with a sheet. My vague idea was that my Saint, named Keaton, would be the lead in Takashima, which is how Al Keaton got his name.
I put Saint Keaton in a variety of positions shot at various angles. I probably took 200 photos that day. My loose plan was to composite Saint Keaton into whatever background.
That photoshoot resulted the key image for Takashima and a short story called, “The Morning Report.” For the image, I cleaned up Saint Keaton’s wrist joints. The rest was achieved with a dodge and burn layer (50% grey painted with black and white, then set to overlay) and a grungy overlay. The photo was ok. I added a black & white filter to check contrast and got the image that got the attention of my muse. This is where the film noir aspect entered the picture.
I carried on with Awake and Kaizen classes while developing the Takashima Story. I was working on it when the mood struck. I was still engaged with various other crafts. Then in 2019, I took an EA class on goal-setting with Phoenix Normand. The assignment was to create three goals and set deadlines: personal, professional and whatever else, health, for example.
Although I still my Photoshop and photography skills were lacking, my brain keeps going back to Takashima and Elysian Fields. I was at the point where I could really achieve what I imagined.
Some of my images had been published in Living the Photo Artistic Life, so Takashima went from a Den of Angels photo story to a graphic novel. My personal goal from that class was to publish Takashima, in some format.
How would I create it?
My original dream for college was to go to film school. But moving out of state was fiscally impossible. My parents did not set aside money for college, so my best bet was to find an in-state college. Technical theater may not be film school, but it gave me experience in costume, set, lighting design, stage management, acting and directing. Everything I need to create stories. As much as I love watching movies, for creating my own art, I prefer still photography. I feel I still haven’t mastered the camera but I have a drive to do so.
The Mister and I was a lot of films and the extras. Although I don’t always care about the extras, the ones that intrigue me and that I pay attention to, are the ones that inspire Takashima and Elysian Fields. When there is an amazing shot in a movie, I watch the extras to see if they explain how it’s done. To this day, I still feel the best dvd extras are from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. If you haven’t watched all 12 hours, I’ll sum it for you: it is a master class in filmmaking, covering every aspect of the three movies, from props, music, costumes, sets, special effects, shooting and editing.
In the next post, I’ll talk about the software programs I use to manage Takashima.