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Neuromancer

ENTRY 01 // BOOK CHOSEN

So I chose Neuromancer. I was tempted to do "Ender's Game" or for that matter "Speaker for the Dead" but had a hard time digging up my copy of it. (think I lent it to someone)

So I see I'm one of many working on Neuromancer but I'm not bothered by that since there's a lot of meat to it and we'll all end up going in completely different directions.

I'm also working with Neuromancer for the Chipp Kidd book cover class so I'll be soaking in this book intensively. I want to do an N dropcap for the title (and maybe work later on a W for Wintermute) I also want to tackle the trilogy in terms of book covers so I've got some work ahead of me (if I can steal enough time from other things!)

So I'm currently re-reading the book and will check back in to hash out themes and visuals I want to incorporate.

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ENTRY 02 // IDEATION/SKETCHING

FInally reread most of the book and picked up on some imagery that I'd like to incorporate into a drop cap. My notes while reading:

The first image to draw my attention was a memory of the main character accidentally breaking open a wasps nest and being horrified by the endless rows and cells of wasps and wasp larvae. This relates to the final showdown where we're inside the Tessier-Ashpool compound which is sprawling and disjointed and appointed with strange collections of luxurious expensive objects hiding it's deranged family within (most of whom are in cryosleep.)

So I looked up wasp's nests (not really knowing what one looks like).
They have vary particular structures and coloring:

So I made a sketch:

I don't think it gets across the sense of a future world particularly well and I think it's so organic that it might be a real pain to take into illustrator.

SO

The next image that grabbed me was of an antique automaton head that serves as an interface and holds the key to Wintermute's release. We learn early on that someone has already been killed to get this head back and probably more blood will be spilled for it before we're through. So I wanted to use the head, the key that winds it and maybe some drops of blood, hence this skectch:

I went and looked up automata and enameled/cloisonée objects to get a better sense of what it might look like. The automata were really fascinating. a lot of them had porcelain doll heads and glass eyes–very creepy. and the wind-up keys could be similar to those for watches and clocks (since esentially they were run on clock-work mechanisms)

A lot of the antique enamel work I found was either asian or Russian and it seemed more fitting since the Tessier-Ashpools were european to begin with that it would lean towards the Russian style of enamel.

The last idea I was playing with was the letterform itself (N for Neuromancer) suggests a backwards, upside down mirror image. Maybe even two outstretched hands touching n the middle in a really abstract way. this was the sketch--not very fleshed-out:

Not sure what I would want to do with that.

SO

I'm leaning towards doing the enamel head. I'm going to get the head closer to what I want it to look like and then take it into Illustrator.

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ENTRY 03 // DETAILS

Deciding to focus on the head idea I want to grab any text in the book that describes it.
Here's the first mention of it:

"The most unusual thing Jimmy had managed to score on his swing through the archipelago was a head, an intricately worked bust, cloisonn over platinum, stud- ded with seedpearls and lapis. Smith, sighing, had put down his pocket microscope and advised Jimmy to melt the thing down. It was contemporary, not an antique, and had no value to the collector. Jimmy laughed. The thing was a computer terminal, he said. It could talk. And not in a synth-voice, but with a beautiful arrangement of gears and miniature organ pipes. It was a baroque thing for anyone to have constructed, a per- verse thing, because synth-voice chips cost next to nothing. It was a curiosity. Smith jacked the head into his computer and listened as the melodious, inhuman voice piped the figures of last year's tax return.

Smith's clientele included a Tokyo billionaire whose passion for clockwork automata approached fetishism. Smith shrugged, showing Jimmy his upturned palms in a gesture old as pawn shops. He could try, he said, but he doubted he could get much for it. When Jimmy had gone, leaving the head, Smith went over it carefully, discovering certain hallmarks. Eventually he'd been able to trace it to an unlikely collaboration between two Zurich artisans, an enamel specialist in Paris, a Dutch jeweler, and a California chip designer. It had been commissioned, he dis- covered, by Tessier-Ashpool S.A."

Second mention:

"The head,' Case said, `there's a panel in the back of the head. Zircons on it. Get it off. That's where I'm jacking in.' And then they were inside."

Third:

He opened his eyes to the cool ruby stare of the terminal, its platinum face crusted with pearl and lapis. Beyond it, Molly and 3Jane twisted in a slow motion embrace."

That's the sum-total of description.

Time to make a more specific sketch.

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ENTRY 04 // DETAILED SKETCH

So I just realized that a previous cover for Neuromancer is a representation of the head!
I don't particularly like it and I feel like the head is definitely a woman's head (partly because it seems more fetishistic and mabe even misogynistic to use a decapitated woman as a computer terminal and partly because I thought this should look like an antique object of beauty)

So anyway here's that cover for context:

And a better look at the full illustration:

I see that the illustrator tried to make the clockwork mechanism visible. I assumed that the craftsmanship was so high that all the works would be hidden. Either way here's my interpretation of the same head. Maybe it's less in keeping with Gibson's description—I'm not sure—but I like it and think it works.

 

I thought maybe it seemed more appropriate to pair it with the W since it's more associated with Wintermute than Neuromancer but I think I'll stick with the N for now. There are meant to be drops of blood (maybe one on the head itself) and the Chubb key that lets them into the library where the head terminal is located.

I guess at this point I'm going to attempt to bring it into Illustrator and make it vector art.

I am a bit frustrated with the fact that I've turned this much more into an Illustration solve and not so much a lettering solve. For that I would probably have to re-think my approach which is more than I have time for right now going into the holidays.

I'm going to plow ahead and keep mulling over what else I could do.

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ENTRY 05 // VECTOR FUN

So I took it into Illustrator and started doing a dimensional version of the head but it seemed super crazy to get that detailed with vectors so I stripped it back to a flatter execution. I might need to simplify it more but this is where I am in the process:

The further I go with this the less I like how separate it is from the letterform. In an effort to make the letterform more central  I gave it a shadow that belongs to a W (for Wintermute). I think I can still do something with mirrored forms that might make more sense.

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