It is strange to be sitting here creating this post today and knowing that as I do so this massive project is finished- That an entire year has passed and that I somehow managed to reach the end of my own 365 day challenge. I am not going to pretend like this was easy or attempt to conceal the fact that I am fairly exhausted right now.
A little over a year ago I reached a point where I nearly walked away from Fictional Machines. I was getting tired of the internet and the superficial digital era in general [And the countless hordes of smartphone / social media zombies that it has produced]. There were days where the creativity was starting to feel a bit like a chore and I knew that I had to either fully devote myself to a huge new project or I was going to shut down the computer and quit.
I played around with the idea of attempting the 365 days over the course of a few weeks during May of 2015– A bit hesitant because I wasn’t sure if I had it in me and because I am a bit notorious for not finishing large-scale projects. By the time that I decided that I would attempt it I knew that I did not want to do something totally random that just droned on for twelve months without any real direction. I settled on the concept of creating a specific style of art for each individual month– That the writing incorporated into each piece of art would form a cohesive narrative for that particular set… And so, naturally, the next idea was to collect each month, when finished, into a video slideshow of sorts with music in the background. The YouTube channel and the slideshows were not as big of a hit as I had hoped, but I enjoyed working on them.
All of this was a bit overwhelming already, but during the course of this twelve month cycle I also battled through moving my home and relocating my art studio, tried to recover from a few reoccurring health problems, dealt with computer problems / camera problems and, last but not least, struggled to find the time and energy to have an actual life away from the website and the art shows [And, of course, tens of thousands of other things that I will not take the time to list here]. Sleep and free time in general have become very precious things over the last five years- And God have mercy on anyone who disrupts either.
OK– Now I am going to try to briefly revisit each of the twelve months below without rambling on too much…
***June 2015 /// The Shadows of June:
The original plan was that all 365 images would be black and white [Obviously that did not happen]. The images for the June set were intentionally gritty and rundown. Urban decay, stains and shadows, the crumbling and peeling layers of a forgotten city. The writing and any symbolism contained within were meant to be a bit elusive, almost deceptive…
“on the outside / hollow eyes / you will hide / the flowers bloom at night / a million miles away / how long can this last? / the final act / completely immersed / look inside / a vicious mess / placed upon the heart / swimming in fear / save yourself / question tomorrow / a lonely place / sinking, dying / gunmetal sleep / the shadows flicker / with a sense of urgency / terrible but true / nowhere to go / money to burn / come closer, look deeper / the sky was last / where nobody lives / throw it away / the gallows groan / the great day of wrath / emptiness / nothing more”
Each individual post can be viewed by clicking on the “June 2015” archives to the side, the video is attached below:
***July 2015 /// Unfeeling Machines:
The art style for July was similar in ways to June, but I wanted to take it in a more abstract and perhaps dystopian direction– Images that didn’t quite make sense, experiments with layers and lighting and contrast… Having fun while creating each one, but then forcing myself to become more grim and serious while focusing on the writing for the set– Trying to put an emphasis on current events, wanting to cut through all the lies and offer a few meaningful thoughts and messages.
“deception on display / an infrastructure of tyranny / a non-mutual symbiotic relationship / one benefits and the expen$e of the other / the illusion of choice / just another phase of the crisis / conformity is the jailer of freedom / law is often but the tyrant’s will / the death of the dream / something has fundamentally gone wrong / absolute truth is a stubborn thing / most are out of harmony with the moral law / propaganda outlets / force and make-believe / live free or die / it’s not complicated / our doubts are traitors / our fears are like violence / haunted lives / ripples of mysterious meaning / wait until it’s over / wait for your fate to unravel / when the noise and the confusion are gone / another struggling soul / everyone decided they were offended by everything / the city imploded from political correctness / public backlash / mind control backfire / repercussions / all bets are off / brutal tactics / crimes against humanity / for every action / an equal and opposite reaction / numb emotional responses / endure the misery / the pain-etched reality / near the slaughterhouse / everyone is viewed as a suspect / zero tolerance / a foregone conclusion / sadistic efficiency / transformed / into unfeeling machines / loss / personal deprivation / helpless / a society gone mad / fight against misfortune / struggle with temptation / forgotten machines / abandoned fuel / for all we risk / for all we waste / too much poverty / too much greed / conquered / subdued / war-weariness / the point of exhaustion / many eyes / underground”
Each individual post can be viewed by clicking on the “July 2015” archives to the side, the video is attached below:
***August 2015 /// The Last Refuge:
The overall theme for August shifted away from the gritty urban maze and turned toward the beauty of nature. Both the writing and images serve almost as a direct response to the previous two sets. I was still trying to maintain the “only black and white images” concept at this point, and, while looking back upon these I kind of wish that I had allowed the color to remain [Even if faintly] within the images. Photographing all of the various animals and wildlife in this set was very enjoyable.
“ninety-two point nine six million miles from the sun / the best gifts of the earth and its fullness / every moment plants something within the soul / what is seen is temporary- but do not grieve without hope / go out from the city and dwell in the open country / there you shall be rescued / from the hand of your enemies / let the hills hear your voice / in the midst of a garden land / from the days of old / when answers were found in the secret place of thunder / the region of hidden shadows / a place that can calm and quiet the soul / meditate on all that has been done / the last refuge / ask the birds of the air and they will tell you / speak to the earth and it will teach you / in his hand is the life of every creature / and the breath of all mankind / nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might / they all lie in wait for blood / each hunts the other with a net / the day of your watchmen / of your punishment / has arrived / now their confusion is at hand / wrath is poured out like fire / man the ramparts / watch the road / dress for battle / and collect all your strength”
Each individual post can be viewed by clicking on the “August 2015” archives to the side, the video is attached below:
***September 2015 /// Chains of Darkness:
September was quite a departure in many ways from the previous three months… The writing was almost a direct continuation of the narrative from July [But perhaps speaking from a slightly different perspective]. The artwork for this month, well… I just kind of freely experimented as each day passed by, trying to keep each one within a certain rough boundary so that they could still be presented as a set- But the overall style was very different from what had come before [And yes, just the slightest hint of color started to find it’s way into the images].
This set was more challenging and time consuming that it might appear at a glance, just watching the video now makes me wince with pain at times, remembering the late nights working, trying to get the next one finished and posted by midnight…
“the spirit of sorrow / streets of rage / the great deceiver / the commander of hate / the takeover / an acquisition of souls / lying tongues / hands that shed innocent blood / wicked plans / feet that run to evil / lawless / unrepentant / those who sow iniquity / controlling information / brainwashing / repeating the same messages / again and again / those who call evil good and good evil / who put darkness for light and light for darkness / fundamental social division / exploitation / transnational corporations / transnational conduits / transnational control / distortion / economic war zones / reanimated refugees / lacerations / bloodstains / vague manifestations / questionable events / beneath the surface / a torrent of abuse / reinforced / structured / fanaticism / subversion / apathetic / unconcerned / no one is safe / hypocrisy / treachery / treason / it is all deteriorating piece by piece / fractured vision / deliberate destruction of free will / surrender / the machines are merciless / an extension of the beast system / seething within / never still / days of affliction / unclean spirits / cursed / chains of darkness / viciousness / immorality / the love of many will grow cold / darkness cannot prevail against darkness / hate cannot prevail against hate”
Each individual post can be viewed by clicking on the “September 2015” archives to the side, the video is attached below:
***October 2015 /// The Portal of Death:
Ah, the October set… I spent an unbelievable amount of time on these images! The original concept was to create something ghostly and horrific. It all quickly veered off into something more like a meditation on life and death and everything beyond the physical body… Then returned to the intended path of horror as the end of the month approached. The black and white returned again, but it would be the final month of the year without any color being used…
“momentary life on earth / mortal breath / the portal of death / silent knowledge of the beyond / swathed in sorrow / final words / the fathomless void / beyond the embrace / out of time / no warning / searching the darkness / waiting for nothing / a void that grows inside / pain without end / secret scars / beneath the death mask / a fire still burning / the pattern of annihilation / some day the thread will break / like deepening twilight / like a whisper in a lonely ear / when the lights go out / when the soul leaves the body / the insidious song / the treacherous rhythm / the surreal edge / the outer fringe / beyond the limits of time and space / grotesque guardians / fallen angels / and the father of lies”
Each individual post can be viewed by clicking on the “October 2015” archives to the side, the video is attached below:
***November 2015 /// Fascination and Fear:
After the grim subject matter during October the decision was made to shift gears for the following month. The narrative is much more romantic at times, perhaps more lyrical for a few of the posts, more of a celebration of life and love after spending so many weeks hovering around the subject of death.
Two separate images were created for each day and then combined- One image of flowers and / or plants for the foreground, then a more abstract texture type of image for the background. The general color scheme changed and shifted three time during the month. I guess it was just so nice finally working with color again that I couldn’t help but change things up a bit as the days fell off the calendar.
“love captures the heart / of all who tread the path / alive in every season / the desire to please / the ability to forgive / the ecstasy of submitting / enshrouded, enveloped / fascination and fear / the rhythmic pulse / the blood flowing / twisted into a coil / beneath grey skies / through restless rainy nights / dreams and familiar shadows / bathed in vile light / with these stolen eyes / the walls of a guarded heart / taking what’s left / and throwing it away / on the outside of a dream / a faint glimpse of a hidden sea / her longing eyes, the strange divinity / unknown bliss / beneath the pale ether haze / the hour is approaching / let gratitude nurture your soul / with the terror of thirst / like the earth moans for rain / as the rotten leaf falls / below the gleam of a distant star”
Each individual post can be viewed by clicking on the “November 2015” archives to the side, the video is attached below:
***December 2015 /// A Prayer for the Damned and the Dying:
The set for December is different from any of the other months. This one is more like an illustrated short story, again using a similar approach as the posts from November with a foreground image and a background, but this time trying to intentionally control all aspects in a more refined way- Trying to tell the story. I knew from day one that the beginning would be reused at the end, that the story would loop and repeat over and over as this character is stuck in this miserable condition.
I remember scrambling, trying to finish each of these on time while maintaining the quality during the super busy holiday season last year…
“lying in bed half asleep- listening to the storm / a lingering image from the dream- unresolved / time transfixed in the corner of the murky room / walking down the narrow hallway- the same day begins again / the broken mirror in the bathroom- an eerie, distorted reflection / the rest of the morning is measured out with cups of coffee / a smoke-filled room… the storm continues outside / the laptop is still on in the corner- live streaming video of all that remains / there’s more footage from the endless war, no hope, no shelter / it was death, and hell followed with him / the war was designed to attack and diminish all of humanity / no one was paying attention when the sixth trumpet sounded / if we only had a little more time / the rolling blackouts had become a regular occurrence / things we all took for granted- but we chose to continue / the thunder crashed overhead- the rain was coming down in sheets / riots, looting, and arson have plagued the city for months / the police stopped responding and abandoned their cruisers / many people had decided to hide themselves in darkness / the things that go through one’s mind while rationing food… / the human body fights to stay alive when you’re starving / reading offers an escape from the hunger pains and a world gone mad / caught up in the story- the hours slip by- moonlight filters into the room / in peace i will lie down and sleep, for you alone make me dwell in safety / a prayer for the damned and the dying / engulfed by sleep- absolute darkness- sweet oblivion / the darkness leads to a strange tunnel deep beneath the earth’s surface / evil spiritual forces are chasing me down the tunnel- horrible screams echo off of the walls / i am aware that i am dreaming- at least on some level- but i keep running into the terrible darkness / lying in bed half asleep- listening to the storm / a lingering image from the dream- unresolved / time transfixed in the corner of the murky room / walking down the narrow hallway- the same day begins again”
Each individual post can be viewed by clicking on the “December 2015” archives to the side, the video is attached below:
***January 2016 /// The Prolonged Night:
This marked the beginning of a new year and so it was again time to shift gears and do something different. Each post would start with four copies of the same picture and then more detail would be added to some but not others. The month began with different shades of blue and then more and more colors were added as the days progressed. January was a rough month, I was at the point of almost total exhaustion and the bitter weather outside didn’t help much. Somehow found the energy deep within to continue working and sharing…
“light after the light goes out / listen with your heart, and hear / whisper into the ear of fate / where soft shadows linger / and the sea shall be no more / still, in spirit, we are near / searching at day’s decline / for inner peace and tranquility / but the earth is cursed with pain / and half a century of lies / every life and every nation is built on denial / a profound sadness purifies us all / as we question the darkness / and the darkness examines our weaknesses / vague forms in the wilderness / solemn shadows below each coiled and twisted root / the sunless chill of the prolonged night / shuddering and sick of heart / we betrayed all of our yesterdays / the future will be unfairly distributed / because of all we’ve seen, because of all we’ve said / the lawless one will be revealed / there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain / there will be no more night / you will not need a candle / or the light of the sun / for the time is at hand / who will be blessed? / who will be cursed? / our time on earth / our time in the universe”
Each individual post can be viewed by clicking on the “January 2016” archives to the side, the video is attached below:
***February 2016 /// Dreamless Sleep:
February, March and April form an unofficial trilogy within the twelve month cycle [Yes, it really did become that complicated while all of this was going on]. Or, perhaps more accurately, the set for March was an unofficial sequel to the February set, and then the set for April was like an afterword or epilogue to the previous two. Yes, I think that is a better way to explain it.
Someone very close to me had brought this abandoned property to my attention nearly a year ago. The old house and the barn were both standing near each other in the middle of nowhere. Despite the fact that the property was located many miles away from any towns or cities I was a bit apprehensive about just walking onto someone else’s property to take photos.
Months went by. One day we were driving past the house and I was debating on just walking up there with my camera when we saw someone in a pickup truck drive onto the property. I pulled in behind the vehicle and quickly introduced myself to the driver [Who also turned out to be the owner of the property]. Not only did he give me permission to explore and photograph whatever I wanted, but he then informed me that I had arrived just in time- The house and barn were only weeks away from being torn down to make room for a new home…
“in dreamless sleep / the smoky haze forms and shifts / in the bleak wintry wind / from the frozen north / unclean bodies in the grave / inheriting the corruption and depravity / mercy has departed / strangers are scattered across the land / hopes and fears are blended together / the bright hues vanish / wasting away from within / trying to expel the poisoned air / their footsteps marked in blood / the hungry will feed / flee for your life / stir your sluggish pulse / there’s nowhere to hide / the truth has to be repeated constantly / their strength lies in concealment / do not compromise and turn away from the truth / do not dwell alone / let the terror cease / do not be afraid of those who cannot kill the soul / the world does not have to be so cold / a prisoner of your thoughts / things are not always what they seem / a cry of despair / a desperate prayer / rise renewed in strength”
Each individual post can be viewed by clicking on the “February 2016” archives to the side, the video is attached below:
***March 2016 /// The Spirit of Liberty:
By this point I was moving away from the abandoned house and exploring the nearby barn and surrounding areas. It was so bitterly cold that day. I was having difficulty getting the shots I wanted with gloves on and ended taking them off at one point. My hands and face were bright red and nearly frozen by the time I made it back to my car.
“i saw that ghost again today / the specter bemoaned all that had been lost / suffocated by enforced conformity / the sycophantic worship of authority / and various chemical persuasions / controlling the rules of solitude / millions deprived of independent thought / conditioned to accept the unthinkable / consenting the the unspeakable / eroding the idea of free will / we made the ghost reveal itself again today / a dialogue between the living and the dead / consider the sorrow / every wounded soul / a voice rose, thin and pleading / it warned about the overseers / puppets with strings that twitch / victims with scars that itch / now the truth emerges / exposing the lies of the corporate media / waiting for the wicked to fall into the pit they have made / can the ghost return from the netherworld? / can we reclaim our peace and prosperity? / imagine everything our ancestors went through / remember who you are / let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering / the old things passed away; behold, new things have come / needing only a spark to ignite an open rebellion / will you turn your gaze away? / the wicked are like the tossing sea / its waters toss up refuse and mud”
Each individual post can be viewed by clicking on the “March 2016” archives to the side, the video is attached below:
***April 2016 /// Detached from the Intangible Realm:
The next to last month… This was another rough, exhausting period of my life. Almost threw the towel in at the end of March. It was like the scene in a typical boxing movie where the ref pauses the fight to look one of the boxers in the eye and ask him if he can continue. The boxer nods and mutters something, starts swinging and dancing around again. The end was within sight and I was determined to finish the personal challenge, even if it meant limping across the finish line.
The post a day continued. Every time I sat down I really tried to bring something worthwhile to the surface- Anything worth doing is worth doing right. Everyone can tell when an artist is phoning it in, and I never want to be part of that detestable, phony lot.
“time heals all wounds / forgive, and you will be forgiven / erase the desolation / reject false dreams / struggle against the rulers of the darkness / clear the way through the wilderness / do not be dismayed / many will fall away and will betray one another / search your heart / despair crushes the spirit / while love rejoices with the truth / take every captive thought / take every broken memory / allow the eyes of the blind to be opened / reveal the abundance of peace and truth / expose the source of the quarrels and conflicts / the eyes of the depraved will fail / escape will elude them / their hope will become a dying gasp / do not be surprised if the world hates you / conduct yourself with wisdom toward outsiders / we are all exiles on the earth / detached from the intangible realm / speak to the spirits in prison / the elite collect captives like sand / persecuted this way until death / remain faithful until the end / rescue others from the domain of darkness / straighten up and lift up your heads / redemption is drawing near”
Each individual post can be viewed by clicking on the “April 2016” archives to the side, the video is attached below:
***May 2016 /// The Frequencies of Restoration:
The final month, one last chance to get it right and connect with people. I wanted the May set to be completely different from the eleven sets before, and, at the same time, for it to serve as a sort of summary of the previous months. The decision was made to have three versions of each image per post, presented in three different color schemes. The set itself was then divided into thirds- The first ten posts were intentionally blurry and hard to pin down. The next ten posts were vivid and clear with the blur removed. The final eleven posts of the month were the same as the previous ten, but with another image crossing over it all. I finished work on the final image one day early, it literally came down to the wire to finish it all on time…
“the soft distortion / a secret code / a voice crying in the wilderness / no hope in sight / it’s like a recurring dream / repeating behavior and expecting different results / searching through a few moments of forgetfulness / someone who keeps falling victim to distraction / a dangerous gift / thoughts that weave and interlace / underneath all currents / the delusion of trust / at the edge again / it’s coming to an end / fading slowly / just a whisper in the dark / it creeps up without warning / a painful consequence / nowhere to hide / everyone pays the toll / the great equalizer / one day, even the sun will perish / connected to the source / the frequencies of restoration / will subdue the modern world / there is a nexus between / the beginning and the end / across the shattered earth / changing every thought / those who suppress the truth / have underestimated the power of love”
Each individual post can be viewed by clicking on the “May 2016” archives to the side, the video is attached below:
Thank God it is over. Would I ever attempt a 365 day project like this again? No. Would I recommend a 365 day public project to other artists and writers? No, absolutely not. Would I suggest that sharing your thoughts and creativity on the internet in this day and age is a good thing to do? No, of course not. The reason I feel this way is that it all ends up giving away more than one originally intends to give… And then you have to face the next day, and the next…
We are entering a phase where the internet is going to basically kill the ability for the truly gifted and creative individuals who have not “sold out” to make a decent living off of their work and talents. The efforts and visions of so many people that I have seen over the years on WordPress are just unbelievable at times, and I fear that we are feeding too much of our dreams and energy into an artificial machine.
To everyone out there who has been here during the last 365 days showing your support, your wonderful comments and your appreciation… I want to truly thank all of you, I salute you! Thank you! I am grateful to have encountered everyone who has stopped by here from all areas of the world- Your intense loyalty has kept me motivated during the darkest days and the coldest nights! The stats were really booming during a few of these months and it was great to feel like this work was relevant again. There is a contact page with an email above if anyone is interested in purchasing any prints / original drawings or painting [Which are not shared publicly here or anywhere] / commissioned work / or just would like to say hello.
ORIGINAL ARTWORK & WRITING BY J E LATTIMER
© 2016 J E LATTIMER ALL RIGHTS RESERVED