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Nzinga versus the Hydra

This image combines several themes which have always fascinated me, and which have defined my life. The first theme, probably the most apparent, is that of myths and fantasies. Growing up, I was always obsessed with the stories about dragons and heroes with magic swords. The second theme is that of the video game. I have always been drawn towards video games because of their storyline, and it just so happens that many popular games draw inspiration from older mythological stories. Final Fantasy is one, but so is the Legend of Zelda, and even more strategic Age of Mythology is another. However, the final theme that my image contains is that of the mash up. The ability to be inspired by the works of others and use this works to create something new is something I think defines the modern digital age.

In his essay, Rhetoric of the Image, Barthes discusses the three messages that all images have. The first message I want to analyze in relation to Barthes, is the literal message. This image clearly represents some type of warrior with a sword, fighting against a multi headed monster. Also right away it is apparent that the two subjects in the painting are not original to that piece. However, here is where the literal message ends and the symbolic message picks up. It is difficult to look at a painting for what it is before a new interpretation or message is created from it. However this idea of the literal image is something I wanted to play with, which is why I transposed these subjects over the same subjects as before. Even in the original painting the literal message is that some type of warrior is fighting a multi headed monster. The difference is the context in which it is placed, and that context is the foundation of the symbolic message.

When one begins to analyze the symbolic message behind this image, it begins to become more complicated. Starting with the first impression, it is that of a staged battle between a warrior and a mythical monster. The literal message again. However even that isn't quite so literal because we recognize it to be a mythical being. Therefore we begin to associate it with the Greeks and Greek mythology. The next thing that is readily evident is the fact that the image is a manipulation of an actual painting, through which characters from a computer game are transposed over the original subjects. Even if the viewer isn't familiar with the original painting, they still realize that something is being transposed. This is the part where we try to understand why this was done. What were the motives? For me, I think I liked the idea of finding another way to bring my childhood fantasies to life. However, there is also the message that shows American culture, and Japanese, still harbors a fascination for these myths, stories which are thousands of years old. We see it in written books, video games, and movies. The Greek myths were stories which explained what was unknown, such as the creation of the world. However, even though we now know how the world was created, that same fascination and desire to explain the unexplainable persists.

I suppose that this also ties in with the linguistic message. Even though this image does not have any words, there is still a linguistic message that is picked up. That message is a memory of those Greek myths we have all heard and have some kind of knowledge about. Not everyone will be able to pinpoint that it is a replica of the scene where Hercules fights the Lerneaen Hydra, but people do recognize that it is a mythical monster. It is almost as if the linguistic message is already there, this is just a representation of an already existing message. It could be that "A picture is worth a 1,000 words" only because we interpret those words through the picture. However, that also means that for each individual the image will represent something different. The reason is because we all have different experiences, memories and interests. What message I feel the image sends may not be the message that someone else receives. Which is why people create works based off of what they perceive around them, whether it be through a painting, story, poem, or even a photo shopped image.


Game Character: Screenshot taken by me from the FFXI game
Game Hydra: Screenshot taken by me from the FFXI game
Painting by Gustave Moreau, Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra, 1876

Brief Description: 

For this image I basically transposed a screenshot of the character I created for Final Fantasy and a monster (hydra) also found in the game with that of Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra.


The juxtaposition of a painting with a video game is very appealing to me, I think you did a great job integrating these two elements, well done.

This is excellent. As shannotate said, the juxtaposition is very appealing. It is both clever and amusing. :)

This makes me feel a lot better about my project ^_^

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