Monday, July 17, 2017

Art Gallery: The Earl of Usher is Spider-Man

The Earl of Usher is Spider-Man (2001)
Watercolors on canvas

Hooray, my first post on my new iMac. I finally switched computers after the HP Pavillion desktop PC started failing. This was the third HP hard drive to fall apart in less than two years, so I decided to just chuck the whole system and buy a computer that actually, ya

Anyway, back to this Watercanvas painting. It was one of only three paintings in this series to use olive oil, which was part of my endless experimenting. Unfortunately, I should have known that the oil would not mix well with watercolors, and would, in time, erode and eat away at them. This did have the interesting effect of creating these very detailed and layered patterns, almost like burn marks. The end result is more of a visual tone poem than the Abstract Expressionist style I relied upon at the time.

The title actually comes from an extremely obscure indie computer game made for the Atari 800 sometime in the early 1980s. It was called "The House of Usher" and was a low-grade Donkey Kong ripoff, which was a common thing at the time (Mr. Robot, Jumpman and Miner 2049'er all followed the same or similar formula). Unfortunately, this video game was extremely buggy and never played properly. It was either never completed or suffered file corruption in the process of being pirated onto blank floppy disks (ahem).

In this game, all that happens is that you see the player-character at the base of a series of platforms and ladders, just like Donkey Kong. You hear some opening musical chords, and when the music stops, the player just crashes through the floor and dies. It was kind of funny to me. When all your player's lives are lost, the game ends, and you are taken to a "game over" screen featuring a rainbow color pattern and a mysterious message. The message read as follows:

"The Earl of Usher is Spider-Man"

I still have no idea what that means. It was just bizarre and funny, and always stayed in my memory all these years. And so it became the name of one of my paintings.

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