It’s interesting to wonder where a recurring image in your mind comes from. In my work I have always known that the slick graphics of Japanese anime have played a role in the design and development of my style and vocabulary. But there is a particular fragment of memory from my childhood that has always recurred as I look at my abstractions. That is the ships of the enemy menace known as the Zentraedi in the Robotech animation series I obsessed over as a child.
These Zentraedi were not the appear one week, be repelled and then reappear next week type of enemy one might expect amid typical 1980’s Saturday morning fare. They were instead an enemy more fitting a mature science-fiction show, that arrived at Earth killed off several of the show’s major characters, and in one scene that still sort of occupies fear-filled corner of my childhood memory, essentially lay waste to planet Earth. It was definitely not what one would see on a television show for kids these days.
But when I look at it now, and remember the kinds of feelings the site of these creatures, and more specifically their ships, the impact on my work seems obvious. I have often associated my drawings and paintings with the positive aspects of looking at life as an energy-force, and the various inspiring and enlightening biological processes that propels life forward. But I am not naive about those forces, and hardly believe they are benign and here to simply inform our human view of the universe.
I recognize that nature and the natural are often very harmful, and in many ways frightening in their power and ambivalence. So it is interesting to take stock of your psyche and look into all the places where your imagery may come from. I still love the thick graphic lines and physics-less space imagery of this show even now. It is another story that informs my own story. The scary narrative of alien invasion and powerful, unstoppable machines in a pop-culture phenomenon of my youth seems as fitting a metaphor as any for finding the fear and uncertainty in nature/life.
Here is a scene that still sort of triggers those memories of being freaked out by this as a child.