From a far away time, in a place nearby by Aleks Sakowski

The Mecha Genesis - 2019 retrospective

This year I launched volume 2 of The_Mecha_Genesis, which I feel will be probably the most dense with tech philosophy out of all 4 volumes. People at events frequently ask how long this has all taken me; The project has been ongoing for about 10 years. The first 5 years mainly included development of ideas, philosophies and research. the final concept it self was the synthesis of various other smaller projects I had been working on.

In 2014 I brought a lot of those ideas together during a project called the 100 days project where the challenge is to create 1 thing a day for 100 days. What prompted me to do the 100 days at the time was I had realized I had not drawn for some time. Drawing was something that I used to do a lot just for the joy of it, and all of a sudden it dawned on me it had be a few years since my last real go at it. So my challenge was to draw a character and write a minor story about them every day. The project then was titled “Faces of the Future”. I think I got to about 60 or so pages until the project started to become to big for its self and I began work on Crouching Tiger II which absorbed all my time.

Even though I did not complete the 100 days, the foundation was set in place for me to finally see where all these characters and technologies existed. The 100 days acted like an exercise prompt to help develop my ideas to the next phase, and thus The Mecha Genesis was born. You can still see original elements from that project in the final books.

If you ever feel stuck in your ideas and art, I highly recommend doing something like 100 days or an Inktober style project. When we leave school, there is no one there to challenge you anymore, to test you, to make you try something new you might not have first thought you were interested in. Once we leave school that responsibility falls on our selves. So you must challenge your self with the unknown to learn and progress as a person. If you are comfortable, it most likely means you are not learning anything new.

Fast forward 5 years later and the final polished versions are here (at least the first 2 books) Most of the work on each book happens in about 6 months before publishing. Once I have all the assets I want to feature in the book, a lot of the final work comes down to writing, layout, polishing and editing. 

This volume in particular I found hard to write as it included ideas about very specific types of technology which I wanted to be grounded in real science, meaning I had to understand the science myself before writing about it. What I felt made it even more difficult was that the science is really advanced fringe stuff and most people don’t know about it, but it's the kind of stuff I love. Ideas such as quantum entanglement, quantum computing, what happens if we live in a populated universe,  future evolution of the human species, evolution of AI into EI and how biology and technology will merge... just to name a few.

The real challenge was distilling these complex ideas into something that anyone can read and enjoy. A person who does not know anything about any of these ideas should be able to pick up the book and also enjoy the story to a point where they themselves understand the context, being into science fiction helps of course but what I leaned from Issac Asimov is that real science fiction is not about technology, but about how the technology affects society and the human journey. I have structured the whole idea of The Mecha Genesis from the perspective of the human experience asking how does the human race change and react when all these new technologies and ideas are introduced to it?  

I did 4 events in 2019 - Chromacon, Retcon, Zine Fest and Overload. The book launch was at Chromacon and was a great success. Chromacon itself was an amazing event and the crowds were much bigger than all previous years. I had fans come back from volume one seeking out volume 2 which was cool to see.

Chromacon

Sometimes selling an original concept can feel difficult at times as many people coming to these events are looking for familiar things like fan art from existing films and games. However you do find those who also are looking for an original idea and a new world to dive into(and those who just love sci-fi). My primary focus is to share new ideas with people.

There is a certain fear attributed to technology and how it may replace humans or wipe us out altogether; Western Pop culture preys on this idea a lot, however this is not my philosophy. The Mecha Genesis overall is an optimistic story of humanity's future relationship with technology. That humanity must realize Silicon Intelligence is us and we are them, one cannot live without the other. We must work together to survive in the future, to become a multi-planetary species and explore the Omniverse.  

A welcomed by product of doing these events was that they helped me quantify the whole story so as to explain it concisely and quickly. I now have my logline/pitch down to a fine art and even developed levels of explanation depending on how interested a patron is.

Retcon

Zine Fest

When I launched book one, my table display was kind of a one-off thing. It did not lend to setting up at multiple events.

Volume one launch at Chromacon 2017

So this time around doing multiple events I designed it to be more mobile. My display evolved over the 4 events this year and by the time Overload happened which was the last event, I had finally set up a cart and trolley system as carrying a whole crate of books is actually really heavy, on top all the other things you need. In between now and volume 3 I hope to maybe do some events In Wellington and other parts of NZ. My ultimate goal is to do Comic-Con in San-diego when I have all 4 book finished and of course, this is all just ground work for future animations, movies and more.

Overload

Work has already started on volume 3 and with all the feedback I got this year I’m pumped to work on it. Volume 3 will focus on Earth's off-world colonies and explore humanity's evolution beyond Earth. In particular it will look at the Vernu Ellco colonies. A successful corporation that seceded from Earth and began its own jurisdiction in space located between Mars and Saturn.

Thanks to all of you who have bought a book or print, or just stopped to talk about it. I hope you are enjoying it and know that volume 3 is on the way. And finally thanks to my fiancée - Elena, you bare the brunt of all my sci-fi tech dribble, my self doubt and artistic insecurities. You are my NorDrumman Tracker, bringing me back to Earth when I’m lost exploring the Galactic Genix Networks.

The Mecha Genesis will be back in 2020

Both volumes are available online

Fear Inoculum by Aleks Sakowski

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13 years in the making, Tool recently released their new album “Fear Inoculum” - Tool as artists hold a special place for me. From an early age their work has heavily influenced my own art and philosophies.

I vividly remember the first time I heard Tool. It was 2003; Me and a bunch of friends used to do seasonal orchard work in Central Otago. We would stand at a large conveyor belt and grade cherries 8hrs a day. Naturally we would all tune out and listen to music all day. My friend had a copy of Salival and was insisting that we listen to this particular song which happened to be Pushit. It absolutely blew my mind. From that day onward we were fighting over who got to listen to that CD.

Needless to say, I was hooked. Pushit was a song unlike that I had heard before, it struck a nerve with me and still does to this day. From Maynard’s opening statement and enigmatic lyrics, to the grand musical ebb and flow, the mystery hooked me and has ever since.

After that I was in the rabbit hole and have never come out, only to realize that rabbit hole was a rift in space an time to another plane of consciousness (I didn’t know art could do that). Since then there have been moments in my life where Tool unexpectedly resonated with me without conscious thought. During film school in 2005 I made a stop motion animation called Stinkfist. At this point I had never seen a Tool video. During the screening, everyone was saying “man you must like Tool videos or at least the Brothers Quay” (which at that point had no knowledge of either) My response “No i have never seen either I just made this thing”.

To my surprise once I went to watch the videos, it blew my mind once again. I had made something that resonated very closely to the work they were producing without ever having seen it. Maybe I was channeling the energy, but interestingly I had only decided to add music to the stop-motion half way through making it and it fit perfectly….

In 2011, I was in a starbucks in Auckland meeting a guy who was going to work on one of my music videos. I looked over to the line and thought, gee that guy looks exactly like Adam Jones. On a second look, It was Adam Jones(they were playing Big Day Out that year which I photographed). At that point, I had never been to a Starbucks, that was pretty much the one and only time, which made it all the more bizarre. I was star struck to say the least. I excused my meeting for one second and approached Adam. I told him I normally would not do this but had to thank him for the years of inspiration, he welcomed it and we had a small discussion about stop-motion. Adam was super chill and loved that his work had inspired me to do my thing, and that is the main point of this write up.

Artists like Tool come far and few in between but their music and art(collaboration with Alex Grey) inspires me to take my work to the next level. Not to compromise on my creativity and stay true to my self. To continue creating consistently no matter how long it takes or who criticizes you; One must KEEP CREATING! Now this is subjective as you may have the same effect with another artist, musician, author, philosopher etc. For me it was Tool. Living in an age where consumption is prioritized over creation, find those artists that inspire you to create and hold onto them tight.

With their new album out 13 years after their last, I appreciate it immensely having listened to it already countless times. To witness their evolution and watch their art grow inspires me to do the same with my own work and life. To strive and lift my self to the heights I’m capable of and better my self from where I’ve been, to where I am and are going… no matter how long it takes.

Reading many social forums on this album you can see there are people who love it and people who hate it. To the haters I say; Have you ever tried creating something then put it out there for all to judge? Try it, see how how it goes. Try to make the best thing you can, put your heart and soul into it. After years of honing your skills you may even attain perfection in it, and yet no matter what, someone will always hate it, and that’s OK. Because you have to ask your self, are you trying to please the crowd, or are you trying to express your self? because the two creative processes have very different journeys and Tool are not artists who try to please the crowd. Fear of what others think will stifle your growth as a person, create things because you love it and you will find those who resonate with you and your journey.

There is a zen maturity in the new album, an element of a swansong in the whole production. Each song is like an epic finale that nods to where they have been to where they have come. Fear Inoculum represents a mastery of their sound and if its their last release, it’s the crown jewel in their discography. However I think they still have a few more songs left, and if not they have passed the torch of inspiration on to me and hopefully millions of others to make their mark on this universe.

We must embrace that time comes for us all, acknowledged our fears, confront them and use them to be the best we can be.


Guns Akimbo to Premier at Toronto International Film Festival by Aleks Sakowski

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bloody-disgusting.com “TIFF announced the second set of selections in the Gala and Special Presentations programs screening this September at the 44th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival. Three of the films are noteworthy to Bloody Disgusting readers and will screen in the fest that runs September 5–15, 2019.

First is the indie Guns Akimbo, a Jason Lei Howden-directed action-comedy that filmed last year in New Zealand.

Daniel Radcliffe (Harry PotterHorns, The Woman in Black, Victor Frankenstein) plays a lovelorn man whose mundane existence is turned upside-down when he finds himself enrolled in a dark social media movement that forces strangers to fight in a city-wide game of death, live-streamed worldwide to a fanatical audience.”

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The Mecha Genesis - Zine production by Aleks Sakowski

On top of getting books professionally printed I like to make half size hand made zines. It is mostly to give the buyers at conventions like Chromacon an option of price. The Hardcovers are $45 and are the highest quality premium version of the book. The Soft covers will be $15 and the zines will $5. After doing this for the first volume I have streamlined the process and can make them fairly easily. Below are some photos of the process.

The final product

The final product

The Mecha Genesis - Volume 1 and 2 are here by Aleks Sakowski

The new books have arrived, and will be officially available on June the 1st. Pre-order online or join us at the book launch at Chromacon in Aotea Center, Auckland.

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