Joellyn Rock Assistant Professor, Art+Design
The Mysteries Bonus Disk Project has been the focus of several years of creative work. Extensive image research has yielded a wealth of resources from archaeological and art historical images. International scholarship investigating the color of ancient Greek statuary and architecture reveal a saturated palette, quite different from the white marble surfaces previously attributed to the ancient Greek world. My goal has been to apply this informed aesthetic to the art direction of sets, props and costuming for The Mysteries Project. My digital imaging work has included still and video photography shot on location in Greece, as well as blue screen photographs done in the studio and exterior shots in Duluth. Select images have been composed and combined, using digital compositioning techniques in photoshop, to create stills from the fictional set of The Mysteries. In some cases, over 50 images are layered into a single photoshop composite image to generate scenic backgrounds, props, and multiple costumed characters that together make up a scenic vignette. Scenes from the mockumentary include interior and exterior reconstructions of the Temple to Demeter in Eleusis, the actual archaeological ruins leaving much to the imagination. Additional composite scenes involve the ancient agora of Athens, the bay, and the sacred way to Eleusis. Various compositional and lighting strategies are applied to the images to render them believable in the context of the film set. The mockumentary film script plays off these fictional moments from "the making of" set photography. The Mysteries project continues to be a work in progress, rich in both historical research and situational tragicomedy.
ABOUT THE MYSTERIES PROJECT: The Mysteries Project explores a format of digital storytelling now integral to the film industry: the dvd bonus disk. The project will take final form as an interactive dvd packaged as if it is the bonus disk for a motion picture about ancient Greek religious rites,The Eleusinian Mysteries. In this case however, the feature film is mysteriously missing, and all the audience can view is the bonus disk. The audience is left to fabricate the story from pieces of the creative process (gleaned from interviews with the movie’s fictional cast and crew). They may also find themselves musing over the historic disappearance of the cult of Demeter and the fierce secrecy surrounding the Eleusinian Mysteries.
FICTIONAL STORYLINE: Julia Hauenstein,an emerging independent film director sets out to make her third film, with backing from some questionable sources. The project is one that has obsessed the filmmaker all her life: bringing to screen the Greek myth of Demeter, the Goddess of Fertility, and the abduction of her daughter Persephone by Hades, the God of the Underworld. The director?s vision for the project is to weave the myth into an accurate recreation of the Eleusinian Mysteries, the nine day long religious festival celebrated for over two thousand years at the Temple to Demeter in Eleusis. Ms. Hauenstein surrounds herself with experts to help her actualize this independent picture with historic authenticity. She also hires a young student intern to document the production process, for eventual use on the dvd release of THE MYSTERIES. A series of shrouded events leads to the eventual disbanding of the production crew and cast. All that remains of THE MYSTERIES, are these mini-documentaries created by Sophia Funk, the student intern.
The resulting dvd will contain several short fictional documentaries (mockumetaries) that showcase the raw materials + ephemera produced for this fictional film: sketches for scenic and costume design, rough animations, production anecdotes and interviews. Portions of the project will be created by actors generating background stories for their roles (fictional cast and crew members) and improvising on thematic topics. Visuals will be generated to dress the sets and create cutaway shots for these mockumentary interviews. This interdisciplinary project aims to create a visually rich work which is also a playful engagement with scholarly research.
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