Space Invasion Contest 2021 Interview
Congratulations on winning the Space Invasion contest, SquarePeg. You’ve inverted a common alien theme with satire of the normative authority symbolism of the cock. Tell us a little about the inspiration for your piece.
As some followers of mine know, I love having a bit of fun with tongue-in-cheek humor and playing with themes. I've always been an on-again-off-again fan of horror, particularly sci-fi horror (John Carpenter's The Thing is still easily one of my top five films), so I just liked the idea of playing with an iconic horror scene from The Shining. I would say I hope Kubrick would be proud, but film buffs know he wasn't exactly easy to please.
Elayn: The Thing is a great film. I adore John Carpenter. For me, Prince of Darkness is by far his most unsettling film. It has such a low-budget feel, and it's slow, but it just leaves you with that "I'm totally going to have nightmares" feeling.
Peg: Yeah but as I'm sure you know and probably agree with me on, low budget films can be some of the best when put in the right hands...rather than leaning heavily on a crutch of CGI and spectacle, the filmmakers have to rely on storytelling, mood, atmosphere, and characterization which to me are the most important elements of a good story.
Elayn: Agreed. Innovation and effort from necessity has created so much wonderful art. I love the horror genre, and the examples of this are so numerous. Evil Dead, Hellraiser, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre are particularly notable ones.
Peg: Oh for sure, and not to mention other such classics as Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street before those became big names with bigger budgets.
Elayn: What are those top 5 horror films?
Peg: Oof...the *really* hard-hitting question. I'm one of those people that has an ever-changing top five I'm afraid...but what I can say is that ones that will always have a spot on that list will be The Thing (1982) and Alien. From there it all varies wildly depending on my mood because I'm fickle like that!
Do you have any interest in UFO and paranormal theories?
In the same vein of loving sci-fi horror, I also have a special place in my heart for UFO and paranormal theories. Our universe is such a vast place, and as Arthur C. Clarke famously said, “Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” There's lots of wild theories and conjecture about the worlds outside our own, and if nothing else they can play host to some truly fascinating thought experiments and discussions!
Let’s go down that rabbit hole then. Do you have a favorite version of the theories, and are there particular researchers or personalities you enjoy?
Hate to be something of a stick in the mud on this answer, but I honestly don't have any particular theories or anything I particularly subscribe to. If nothing else, if we do have "visitors" and all that I hope we grow as a species from the relationship and that we can learn things we haven't quite grasped ourselves.
That said though a particular guilty pleasure of mine is Ancient Aliens strictly for the entertainment value. It tickles the imagination and fires up the "what if?" centers of my brain somethin' fierce!
Elayn: I don’t know that I necessarily subscribe to any of the theories either, but they make for a fascinating form of mythology if nothing else. The various theorists advance different flavors of it, kinda like denominations of a religion.
Ancient Aliens is wonderfully entertaining. I always end up focusing on the hosts’ speech patterns and gimmicks. Generally speaking, I think their timeline for alien DNA manipulation is too short, but keeping the show within the framework of written history is more relatable. Either way, I agree it sparks the imagination.
Peg: I think that's an excellent way of saying it. I recently started watching Stargate SG-1 (not because I wasn't interested in the past, but it's now available on Netflix) and I love the "aliens masquerading as gods" dynamic that both SG-1 and Ancient Aliens run with. It certainly puts a fascinating and thought-provoking spin on our ancient tales and myths!
What techniques have you refined or experimented with since your last contest win?
Lighting, especially. I've ALWAYS experimented with new lighting setups ever since I first began 3D a decade ago, almost never satisfied with one method over the other. I'm slowly starting to discover a "less is more" approach works best for me. I've also began refining my methods of case-specific morph creation as well as the methods I use to create custom fluids. I actually cover all of these topics in a new thing I'm trying out on my Discord server wherein I stream myself working, answer questions, explain my process, and all that good stuff! I'm also recording some sessions that cover such topics more thoroughly for folks that miss the streams. In fact my recent submission to Slushe, FINISH HER! was streamed almost entirely from start to finish. It was super fun and something I hope to do more in the future!
How do you reconcile horror and eroticism?
Personally I almost see them as different sides of the same coin; fear and lust are polar opposites that can play well together when contrasted properly. There's a reason so many horror movies - especially those like Friday the 13th that helped to define the camp horror genre - put sex and violence within the same medium. Each appeals to a primal instinct that taunts or tantalizes different parts of the animalism in each of us in variable degrees. The real challenge is finding that balance between being scared and being aroused and creating a piece that elicits a blend of the two, or "scarousal."
Sometimes I joke with my followers that if my work doesn't confuse you and your body, I'm not doing my job.
Elayn: I agree, and I like the term “scarousal.” With general horror, I think the blend is just hitting you with multiple sources of arousal, since the scares are probably amplified when you’re already stimulated. But I’m curious about when the horror and eroticism are the same stimulus. The methods of eliciting this seem to be a blend somewhere in a triad between consent, consequence, and risk. Like: “I don’t want this, what’s happening to me, or why do I want this?” Consent seems to be the most used for cheap or exploitative scares, while the other two really flow more to your point about confusing your body. How do you feel about this, and what other stimuli/methods do you think belong in the erotic horror cauldron?
Peg: I can absolutely agree with your notion of the "triad!" Humans are complex creatures, and it's not uncommon that even the simplest of our actions can be the culmination of multiple stimuli. The "four f's" are major motivators for a vast majority of our actions from mundane to scandalous. As for what other stimuli and methods belong in the cauldron, it's hard to say really. Honestly, many of the genres we already see in a more erotic context fit rather snugly already with a more horror-oriented theme: domination, humiliation, subjugation, reversal...all tests and challenges of characters' willpowers of which the power dynamic between the "hero" and the "villain" can easily shift.
Elayn: That’s a great point. Do you think it is mood, aesthetic, or the presence of the abnormal that qualifies those elements as horror then?
Peg: Hmm...any of the above, if you ask me! I feel that when our emotions are manipulated properly, anything can be terrifying or tantalizing. Any of the elements you mention could easily swing on either side of that spectrum, and it's just up to the creator to decide what emotions they want to play with that day!
Roger Corman touts the "blood, boobs, and beasts" formula for successful horror on a budget. What's your take on that?
Roger Corman sounds like my kind of guy! His ideology also fits perfectly with one of mine, actually. Like I always tell other 3D artists, "If you're not cheating, you're doing something wrong." Shortcuts, thinking outside of the box, and fooling the beholder are all necessary in our line of work. I actually mentioned recently in a stream that sometimes the right thing can look wrong, just as much as sometimes the wrong thing can look right. Artists - and by extension filmmakers - are cut from the same cloth...we use our medium to tell a story and entertain our audience. Sometimes it can be something as simple as a good yarn...but when all else fails there's always blood, boobs, and beasts!
Speaking of filmmaking, do you have any plans to produce feature-length animation?
I'd like to fancy the notion that one day in the very near future that I will absolutely definitely make some sort of feature-length animation...but then I remind myself I've been saying this for the past few years! With good luck and God willing perhaps one day I can finally achieve that goal!
Do you have any new advice since the last time?
My new advice is still the old advice actually, as I just personally experienced myself. ARTISTS...always try new things! I recently overhauled how I do my lighting YET AGAIN and am still learning new things all the time even though I've been at this a decade now. NEVER stop learning, NEVER stop pushing yourself in new directions.
You mentioned something Shadowrun fans would like last time. How’s that going?
Yeeeeaaaaaaah, that Shadowrun thing didn't quite pan out...something of a wet fart in the end. That's okay though, it just helps guide me in different directions folks might like more!
Anything else you would like to say to your fans?
Thank you guys so much again, as ever, for your amazing support! Whether you're a follower of my work or a patron of mine, it's you guys that keep this whole thing going for me! I greatly appreciate all of you!
Just to let you all know I've recently started streaming my process and how I do the more technical stuff I do in my work on my Discord server, but it's starting to grow into something bigger! We've had some incredibly talented artists stream and share their own tips and tricks with us and shed even more light into the mysteries of Daz, 3D, art, and even life in general! Check it out for yourself!
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