Both Wading Pool and Maruta were originally based off of digital collages, but after a prolonged struggle with capturing the realism I wanted for Maruta, I ended up building a small scale model essentially recreating the interior I had pieced together in the collage. This allowed me to control the amount of overhead lighting and accurately perceive how the light would illuminate the walls, objects, and surrounding water (using pieces of masonite covered with graph paper, a light diffusing box, a mirror, card stock, painted wooden sticks and plate glass over black cardboard). My lack of experience in creating small scale models and a shortage of sufficient modeling materials resulted in a grueling passage of time filled with a lot of trial and error, until I finally settled on the right interior and a photo that captured it the way I’d imagined.
Maruta originally included walls covered with white tiles, black crosses and the overhead lighting, while still being generated by soul-sucking fluorescent bulbs, was stark and blinding, exposing every seam of the space and attempting to serve as the emotional converse of the heavily obscured Wading Pool.
I think the original mood of Maruta may be partially linked to memories of taking swimming lessons at 4 or 5 yrs old in the large indoor pool at the Park & Rec. Department in my hometown. Over the course of the painting process, the environment eventually dimmed to what may be memories from my first visit to a planetarium, another very large room to a small child, staring up at the false night sky and taking in the under lit periphery along the walls of the dome.
Maruta, as mentioned earlier, signifies adulthood, logic and death, but it retains some elements of Wading Pool in that the unseen human presence, although under the assumption that they now see life for what it is, is still in some way deluded. Maruta also carries over an old tendency of mine to create a kind of obstacle course environment that I picture someone or something navigating through to the end. I see a symmetrical structure surrounded by dark water, a series of steps emerging on either side leading up toward the two domes, narrowing as one climbs toward the topmost holographic layer contained under the dome, finally lured in and discarded into the central pile as maruta (Japanese for “logs”).
“Maruta” was the term given to incoming test subjects sent to a Japanese medical experimentation lab called Unit 731 during WW2. It was a way for the research staff responsible for some of the most horrific human experimentation on record to dehumanize their subjects and presumably make their work more efficient. I viewed the interior of Maruta to be much like a concentration camp or a slaughterhouse – a place where a human being is viewed as a test subject, only to have its life force extinguished and body disposed of when it’s no longer useful.
The semi-transparent planes sitting on each step could represent the mental lures that we bait ourselves with in order to propel us forward and serve our underlying purposes as human beings, which to me (at my most sullen) boil down to surviving, reproducing, nurturing offspring and dying. I think our minds tend to coat the triggers for our basic urges with whatever lofty characteristics we require in order to motivate us to act on them; we transform potential mates into unattainable objects of adoration, pair-bonding into spiritual connection, the protective instinct of parents into unconditional love, and many of us are eventually unable to face death without turning to religion, hoping we will transcend it and end up somewhere better. Because we’re a species that requires a sense of personal significance while we pass through our life cycle, the delusions we produce in order to satisfy our need for purpose and peace of mind are myriad. If we’re unable to convince ourselves that we are of any inherent value, then we find our worth through a sense of belonging to something greater; our purpose is not to create but to carry out the will of the creator, even if in the most menial ways.
Continue to Waruta 4: Final Thoughts >
Small scale model for Maruta interior minutes before being demolished by meandering, oblivious cat
Maruta model in its infancy, featuring Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 and sparkly thing
Early attempt from 2013
Early sketches for Maruta: Phase 2
Early stage from Maruta: Phase 2
Last stage from Maruta: Phase 2 right before a cathartic sanding off of the painting panel
Categorized in: Thoughts
This post was written by mryczek