Sylvain Despretz' Skullship concept art
for the unmade Superman Lives

a) The Skullship
Sylvain Despretz designed this enigmatic version of the Skullship for Tim Burton's unmade Superman Lives in 1997. 

It contains elements of machinery and the a crumbling skull face, with a window in place of an eye.

It would have been a spaceship for the Superman villain character Braniac to travel around in.

This one becomes fascinating to me because because of my interest in Giger's biomechanics and this has a certain amount of that in it with its organic forms, its machinary and pipework.

Sylvain Despretz' Skullship
Sylvain Despretz' Skullship (complete image but dark)

b) Skullship references Giger's Derelict?
On September 29th 2016, I suddenly realised that the skull face Sylvain Despretz's skullship concept for the unmade 1997 "Superman Lives" echoed the structure of the arm from this painting of Giger's the derelict ship. 

The upper triangular part of the end of the arm becomes the nasal cavity on the skull. The main trunk becomes the upper and lower teeth although Sylvain would have made it much more rounded. 

On the upper part of the top fin on the tip of the arm, there's an oval shape and the outer rim of this, Sylvain has turned into a fractured sort of a bar where there would have been a left eye socket. 

The horizontal pipes extending from the end of the arm to the right become transformed into a wide eye socket. 

If one is familiar enough with Giger's derelict ship design,  and parts of structure of this ship got into ones mind,  one could easily find oneself feeling out the shape of such a structure in ones own artwork without realising it.
  Giger's derelict painting (Work 374: Wreck)

c) References Salvador Dali's Atmospheric Skull Sodomizing A Piano"?
On the 14th of February, 2017, I suddenly start making  connection between the Skull Ship and Salvador Dali's "Atmospheric Skull Sodomizing A Piano" painted in 1934, which is a painting that looks as if it roughly references the Papyrus of Ani's Henu Barque, because of the stretched eye socked on the right and the expanded left eye socket. 

Many people create pictures of one kind or another that can be loosely Dali like one way or another without meaning to do so because he work has become so widely part of the public consciousness and I would have expected Sylvain to have shown some fascination for this Dali piece amongst many others over his lifetime.

Atmospheric Skull Sodomizing a Piano
(1934) by Salvador Dali
Atmospheric Skull Sodomizing a Piano
(1934) by Salvador Dali (detail)

d. References the Mondoshawan design from Fifth Element?
Making the Henu Barque/Mondoshawan connection on Monday 7th of May 2017, I see the images of this creature next to the Skullship designed the same year as the release of The Fifth Element and I make another connection. Sylvain would have been familiar enough with the design of the final suit whether he wanted to be or not.

See: Mondoshawan from The Fifth Element (1997)

Mondoshawan/Sheridan upside down and Sylvain Despretz's Skullship

e)  Closer comparisons to the Mondoshawan upside down
The Mondoshawan shown upside down for comparison because the light on its groin seems to have become the eye window, and the arm has become the sets of teeth, with the eye like oval on the shoulder in near enough the corresponding place with the shoulder spikes becoming the chin spikes. Having said this my next thought was that Sylvain may well have been looking at this design from different angles as well.

The Skullship's eye socket window and the upsidedown Mondoshawan's groinlight

Skullship's jaw and the upside down Mondoshawan's arms and shoulders

f) Thoughts about these comparions
Having made these comparisons, I don't mean to say that Sylvain Despretz necessarily deliberately based his space ship on all of these different paintings and illustrations, but at least features from each have found their way into his work because he would have been familiar with them.

Adding to that I am curiously connecting the three sources of reference with the Henu Barque in different ways, and once you start getting close to things connected with Ancient Egyptian imagery, it can start playing very creative curious games with the mind. Slightly a later realisation came to that for me , all three of the things hat I chose connected up with Henu Barque in some way, and so in my exploration it's a form of a convergence and quite honestly, one could choose a number of things in art, and I would be pointing out a connection with the Henu Barque mostly because of what seemed to be happening with Surrealism in the earlier part of the 20th Century.
Of course I would assume that there are other things to add to the list of things possibly referenced one way or another even if it's from the back of the mind.
g) Sylvain's response to this
Sylvain Despretz's response to this whole way of thinking was "It's a bit far fetched, but I understand how people who don't work in an art department can look for connections retroactively by looking at a small selection of published work. The one thing I can say is that Jacques Rey was working not far from me on Superman, and no, the Mondoshawan was not a point of departure for this image. I was actually thinking of the barnacles on the hull of a ship when I did this; more like protuberances made of an organic parasite that would have grown on the belly of the skull ship. You have to keep in mind that none of these designs are arrived at spontaneously, but rather, are part of a continuum of evolving images done over several weeks and feeding into one another, often subjected to commentary by either the director or the production designer. Advice like "make this larger", "have spikes at the top", etc. It is often impossible for us to even recall how many drawings it took to get to the one which was picked. I don't think Jacques Rey knew anything about the Egyptian Book of the Dead in 1992, by the way. If he had, he and I would probably have gotten along better. " ( See thread on Facehook, May 27th 2017)

h) End thought
Looking also as the fact that there it's happening in an artroom with other people coming in to tell him to do this and do that, one might jump to the next point and suggest that on some level, their minds were in on it too drawn to think about similar things..

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