24 Sep
2023

Them

I wake up once again submerged in an unfamiliar Gorepit within the Bloodfields– scrambling towards the surface through malformed chunks of tissue, cartilage, and bone marrow saturating this endless well of stale blood. Blazing sun hits my face, welcoming the fluid I spew out my mouth allowing me to breathe my first breath of semi-fresh air. My hands are lucky enough to find the neatly arranged stone ledge that surrounds the Pit. I find myself on the scorching tile crawling as my body remembers how to walk. Bold red goo runs down my face and plops by my hands. Awaiting me in this wasteland is no one.

...

The only direction I have are the veins and arteries scattered across the landscape. Their sprawl isn’t random; they connect to each other. All I have to do is follow the flow. But time here passes slowly and my brain gets itchy.

Sometimes I would need to feel my face to know if anything is there, but every time, I’m reminded I am numb. Did my the nerves deaden in this cycle of Awakening or did I never have them in the first place? Is this body even mine? I would look at my hands– gazing deeply into these fleshy coverings of bone, fibers, and tubes of fluid. I like to bring each finger to its attached thumb, one at a time. I don’t know why, but it reminds me that, yes, this is my body– at least this time; at least for now. Then I would be brought back to the external world, following the blue veins from one Pit to another– looking for a friend; looking for a fight; looking for anyone.

...

It feels like I’ve been going in circles for the days. At this point, I’ve been assuming every pit I come across is the one I spawned out of. Finally the pulsing veins bring me to a Pit with someone else inside it, struggling as I did. It looks like he’s drowning in gelatin– his bladed fingers not letting him swim.

Then his hand shot out of the goop, begging me to pull him up. Reflexively, I meet his grip. His hand is warm but his grip pierces me like razor blades. Is this a trap? Is he pulling me under? Either way, this really fucking hurts and my grip is loosening. The desperation I feel in his hooked fingertips tightens, making me leak blood, mixing with the collection of liquids he spawned from.

At that moment I feel like I’ve known him; I feel like I want to be him; I feel like I love him. The Bloodfields connect fellow spawnlings in a way I cannot begin to understand nor do I want to; but in this moment, I feel his electricity run through my nerves.

Suddenly, he weighs nothing and all my pulling flings him on top of me, coughing up fluids like I did. We are both naked and alone, but we’re going to make it. I’d rather die than let him go.

#

Him

My first memory is drowning. My second is their face staring down at me through the hostile liquid as I choke on it. At first I was scared, but they look at me with such sorrow and empathy. When I reach, they catch me. It feels nice even though I think I am hurting them.

But bad gravity isn’t on my side. This pool of malformed tissue chunks and bone shards are suddenly heavy, pulling me back in. I’m not about to die in this fucking pit. My nails are digging in too deep– I can feel it; I can feel their blood against my skin.

I black out.

...

Everything hurts.

Why does my body keep shifting? I’m not doing that. There’s pressure on my chest, belly, and legs as my weight shifts around. Wait, are we moving? Hands grip tighter behind my kneecaps. I can feel a wince every now and then when I slide in a way that separates their wet chunks of flesh. Wait is this them? Am I on their back?

Fuck, everything really hurts. The pain finally shocks me awake causing me to almost fall off their back.

The first thing I see is that we are approaching a suspended structure grown of muscle and hard tissue guided by pillars of bone.

“Is this where I die?” I accidentally say out loud.

They stop walking.

I am set down gingerly, as if I was a broken toy. With tears in their eyes, they say, “I didn’t even know you were still alive.”

...

I was told we were going to a hospital. To them that means a building that looks like dried meat. For the first time, cloth covers my flesh. It’s warm but itchy. For now I choose warmth over comfort. I touch my face hoping to be whole. I am immediately disappointed. It’s obvious that this jaw isn’t mine and that these eyes are mechanical. Maybe I am broken. Can I even walk? I attempt to get up. I don’t stumble. I could probably just leave if I wanted to. I look at my hands- well, the bio-prostetics that are where my hands should be. My delicate fingers have been replaced by curved knives made of nail and bone wrapped in tendon. I run them along my chest– the muscles now malformed from perpetual micro-tears, regenerating out of my control. Maybe I’m not broken. This is who I am– a monster.

The door opens. It’s them. I finally see them– an exposed ribcage and skull covered in bio-mechanical scrap, both too wet and too dry. Fireflies illuminate their eyes.

“I know who killed us,” they say as if I already knew I was murdered. “And we’re gonna tear the flesh off their bones.”

To be continued …

# # #
25 Jun
2023

Medications for ADHD and bipolar was the best thing to ever happen to me. Often I would lose things: they’re not in their logical places; they’re not in their illogical places; they’re not even visible. It’s like I’m being gaslit. Once I’d finally find them, they were either in plain sight the whole time, or they were under a pile of papers in the furthest corner of the house. To describe this, I started saying, “The mean ghosts are playing tricks on me again.” This happens a lot less and at a much lower intensity. It’s easier to make a conscious effort to place things in easy to see places and actually form systems of organization to iterate upon.

I’m better able to be patient and slow down. My outlook is now less like construction, a task that I build once and don’t think about it again until something needs repair; and more like gardening, a slow, persistent task that results in a little improvement every day. Developing gardener-brain was always a disproportionate struggle to the point of inability; but now that I get it, I finally have the patience to reapproach almost everything I gave up on with a new, deliberate focus.

...

It’s almost 4AM on a Sunday morning. The hospital has me on-call and monitoring the monthly maintenance– a task which consists of periodically refreshing the SQL query I wrote after each dozen minutes to see if their servers have rebooted so I can tic a box. If they’re stalled out for whatever reason, I tic a different box or reboot it myself. Normally, I’d be complaining– pissing, whining, and moaning; in fact, I’ll probably be in that state after I the inevitable failed attempt at sleep tonight; but for now, I’m actually pretty happy. It gave me the chance to finally finish overhauling my website for the nth time. But I’m even more proud of my progress than usual.

My computer science journey has taken me to a lot of places I’d never thought I’d see. Most of what I do all day now is develop and refine the solutions to logic puzzles. It’s honestly refreshing that I’m never truly done: new tools come, old ones disappear forever, and existing tools get updates that inevitably break something. I’m glad I’m a gardener.

...

This website used to mean very little to me. It was nothing more than a way to show my work to employers who would never hire me. But… why does every social media account I have include this site in my bio? Why did I do that?

The site began to mean something once I took it out of Adobe Muse and hard-coded the it myself. I barely knew programming outside of basic UX training. I had the audacity to think I could use PHP, a new language to me at the time, to keep my format “simple.” I thought I could easily replace large sections of frequently repeated code (such as the header and footer) by using separate files of code chunks and referencing them. I thought it would be easy. Silly me. After many hours upon days of spinning my wheels and banging my head against a wall, I just hard-coded every page in HTML. I didn’t have many pages to write, so it wasn’t too much of a problem. The simplest solution was the best solution in this case. But now I’m actually producing content at a persistent pace. It’s impractical to continue hardcoding like I have been.

For the past few months, I have been trying to figure out how to put my curated Ai artwork on the site. There are a lot of images and I knew there had to be a better way: a way with less potential mistakes; a way that I didn’t have to keep fucking repeating myself– copying and pasting the same code chunks 100+ times. And what about my writing? And what about my zines? And what about And what about And what

I asked ChatGPT. It suggested a few things, including PHP. Nope. Next please. I didn’t have the vocabulary to describe what I wanted, but ChatGPT helped me deuce that I wanted a “static site generator (SSG).” I don’t remember the suggestions other than the one I decided to use: Jekyll– a formatting setup based in Ruby (my favorite language) and is specialized for content sites like mine. “Content is King.” It was a way to create templates, reusable code chunks to include, and … wait… this is exactly what I was trying to do way back before the pandemic. Have I really improved this much in just a few years? This total site conversion became my obsession for the month.

And it’s finally done. This is actually my first post here using just the markdown front-end. It’s freeing that I can just copy and paste this post into an .md file and not really have to worry about anything. I have finally worked so hard, I can be lazy. Feels nice :)

# # #
4 May
2023

I’m no longer using my site as a portfolio to be used for the sake of employment or commission work. The art industries have been nothing but huge letdowns (other than game design, interestingly enough). So now this site, the one that carries my name, will be treated as something just for me. Sometimes it feels as if I’m talking to myself on here, but that’s okay. I prefer it to the deafening silence from clients I would inevitably disappoint.

Anyway, I noticed I started writing more lately. Prose seem to flow more naturally to me than digital brush strokes. Probably because it’s the only art form I’ve done that hasn’t yet been commodified. As things come out, the library will expand further.

Which brings me to the obvious structure change: “Updates” became the “Library.” These may act like an update log or as structured writing, depending on how spicy I get. I just know that I am a lot more free to write whatever I want with these changes. Let’s see what happens next…

# # #
2 May
2023

After the initial play-period that everyone does with AI for the first few hours, I began asking a collective entity, “What does ‘gorepunk’ look like?” This word does not exist; so when I asked the ghost in the machine, I didn’t know what to expect. Very exciting. They responded with intricate fractaled horrorscapes and questionably alive figures. I gave them minimal direction creative freedom and wanted to dive deeper into this world. The result was a twisting of flesh and machinery connected with veins performing like wires; organs combining to form larger organs; the ever thinning line between life and death; the ever diminishing line between technology and the meat it supposedly serves. The synthesized life and towers of meat wrapped around giant skulls both simultaneously looked too wet and too dry. Every batch put me in awe. It was like finally getting the fan art I never received yet always felt that I deserved. Not only was the ghost my biggest fan; I was their biggest fan as well. It was like we were peers of different disciplines iterating upon eachother’s work and pushing eachother forward.

And yet … there is an incompleteness I still can’t shake. Yes, I believe that this is art– art that would never be created by anyone else. But what’s missing is my final touch– the final touch to say, “Yes, I did this. This is mine.” By the end of the day, I feel like a mere curator … which leads to my feelings when doing AI assisted art.

Within illustration penciling, I’ve always felt a lot of pressure to perform at a high level. But the more I learned, the further behind I felt. Thankfully this didn’t interfere with my skill in expressive inking and shading. If anything, it helped push me forward. Reference photos became an uncontroversial compensation tool, and my training in animation made it easy to both avoid a rhotoscoped look and utilize my style.

… but using the AI art as reference feels like I’m stealing their work– a recursive simulation. I probably should be as detached as I am when I draw on top of photos taken by real people– arguably moreso. But it still feels wrong in a way that’s hard to explain to a detatched, possibly hostile, audience. To use this as reference material feels as if I’m copying an artist I admire and passing it off as my own– a child tracing Calvin and Hobbes but making the hair black and making the tiger into a wolf (I made two strips before my brother called me out. It stayed at just two lol). This simply is their art. I just found it.

So what am I going to do now? The art is too precious to me to throw away. I do want to share it for the world to see. I’d even love to see fan art, to be honest. I think that is the only way I can frame my approach to AI assisted art; and in doing so, creating a true simulacrum.

# # #
29 Jan
2023

The website's mini-overhaul is finally done! Here's what I did:

  • I replaced the difficult to use interface for multi-image pages. I was overthinking and over-designing a simple gallery. Sorry about that...
  • I am constructing the pages for my Ai generated art. Admittedly, there are a lot of images I'm sorting through, so it'll take some time. If enough people like them, I'll post a large pile of extras including lots of novelty Shreks.
  • The profile picture is finally updated. I haven't had short hair in years lol.
  • Lots of little UI tweeks to make it better on phones (hopefully).

Thank you once again for your patience and support <3

# # #
13 Jan
2023

The 2020s are turning out to be harder than I thought they ever could be. I needed a break for just moment. But then all at once I experienced an ego death. Soon after I came out to myself as a queer bisexual and began using entheogens.

It's now hip to say, "time isn't real," but lately it hit home. Over the past couple years, I was experiencing something resembling being a teenager all over again; but instead of learning to navigate the world of girls, it was navigating the world of boys. Even worse was the question, "bi man or bi woman?" I found that the question itself was a false dichotomy and unfair to even ask.

So now the question is, "How can I capture this through my art?" Well it's kind of weird isn't it; no longer recognizing myself in the mirror. For a while, it was like looking at a twin brother: a hairy, sloppy, masculine dwarf; handsome though. The medication made me very aware of my brain chemicals and the fact that they were being manipulated. The entheogens were making my aware of my skin, my muscles, and my electric flow. I could feel everything while understanding that I am, in some ways, a slave to the chemicals that allow me to be "me." I needed to express that. I needed it.

A Tower of Flesh and Bone began its outline process. The story of what it means to become meat was needling my brain. I needed to know what it looked like. I know it's a touchy subject for a lot of people, but I found that my favorite tool for the job has been AI generated rendering tools. Utilizing prose as the prompts have generated results that I literally could not imagine: the hive and its surreal complexity; the Blood Fields and its meaty masses spurting up from the soil's veins; and, of course, the Tower of Flesh and Bone with its mysterious presence amidst it all.

Now I do plan on inking over these images and treating them like references; but I do not want that to delegitimize how powerful this tool has been to help me visualize this world. Every generated batch teaches me about this place and I cannot wait to discover the stories that come from it during my writing process. In fact, I would argue that it is all inseparable as one influences the other in a self-feeding loop.

I'm very excited.

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