Sci-Fine Art, Humor and Time Machines with Rik Livingston
There aren’t a lot of nice things about living in the desert, at least not until Fall/Winter time, but one nice thing about living here is the amazing Crossroads Cafe and Tavern, where I was having breakfast when the painting to the left caught my eye. I took in the various pieces by the artist I would later discover was the one Rik Verlin Livingston, and I knew I had to track him down and introduce my Geek Crafters to his “Sci-Fine Art“.
We communicated in e-mails a few times before I met Rik at an artist reception held at the Joshua Tree Chamber of Commerce, which featured more of his work, to include some really great comic books. He was friendly, funny, and seemed to handle the attention (and the controversy surrounding one of his pieces) very well. I was really excited to be able to ask a few questions about his craft, his feelings on censorship, and of course, time travel.
GC: A lot of your art seems to be influenced by a sort of retro sci-fi feel, what led you to that/inspired you?
Rik: In general, I see the world in a sort of mythological/
spiritual mode and am always dismayed that others can’t seem to see what I see. They all seem to be distracted by this out-of-control game called “money” and sensationalized trivialities that aren’t nearly as cool as what’s right in front of their eyes if they would just pay attention! I decided very young that it would be my mission to awaken imaginations to the much more fascinating and truthfully real world that surrounds them, if they only could see.
To do this, I often use sci-fi/fantasy as a sort of visual language that most people are conversant in. I guess I could use the visual language of organized religions, but you really start to hit a lot of mental brick walls called “dogma” when you go there!
Even using sf/f can be fraught with obstacles because so much of it is owned by big, litigious corporations. But, generally speaking, one can be a lot more humorous and free with this “language of the masses.” (Humor is a an important tool to breaking down those mental barriers I mentioned earlier.)
GC: Looking at some of your work I can’t help but think of some favorite B sci-fi. Are you into the old sci fi?
Rik: Absolutely! They are some of the BEST of our collective mythologies! And the B movies are often a lot more telling than the polished A list…
GC: Any favorites?
Rik: Anything by Willis O’Brien (Kong) and Ray Harryhausen (Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, Valley of the Gwangi, etc.) . I like the effect of stop-motion animation much better than CGI for most movies. I collect toys, have designed mass-marketed toys and made art from toys and, well, stop-motion’s sort’a like toys brought to life! (For the same reason, I’m really fond of the TV puppetry work of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson – Stingray, Fireball XL5, Thunderbirds, etc.)
Really, though, almost ANY sci-fi/fantasy is entertaining to me, to some extent, just because of their surreal imagery. It’s hard to find ones I haven’t watched numerous times, but, recently, a , friend of mine who is a horror host on TV (BasementSubletOfHorror.com) has been finding some obscure ones that I haven’t seen and mailing them to me.
GC: What is your favorite medium to work with?
Rik: Well, as you can probably see by looking at my website, I have a REAL hard time answering that! I use about every material known to man in my sculptural assemblages. But I’m also very fond of two-dimensional mediums like acrylic painting, pencil and brush-and-ink, etc. For the last 15 years, computer programs, like the Adobe Creative Suite, have also been indispensable.
GC: What is a medium you enjoy that you do not work with?
Rik: I love, and listen to, music constantly, yet, decided not to pursue it after a short flirtation with the guitar at a young age. And, although I’ve authored and had published poetry and comic scripting, I’ve never written a novel or longer work. Yet I read profusely. It’s just a matter of there not being enough hours in a lifetime to create everything it would be fun to create! I don’t even have time to draw and paint all my VISUAL ideas! It’s very frustrating…
GC: When I met you, you were at the center of some controversy regarding censorship in art and creative mediums, which you dealt with very well. Did you want to speak on that here, today? More specifically, the reasons you felt it was important to be a minor spokesperson for artistic freedoms?
Rik: On my website, there’s a map of “The Land of Zono” that’s really the “theme park of art” that’s inside of my head. One of the areas on that map is “Eden Island,” which has a few paintings that contain nudity done in a traditional, fine art sort of style, but with touches of humor. I was asked to exhibit at the Joshua Tree, California, Chamber of Commerce and asked before I set up the show, if showing those works were okay. They said yes, but then later asked me to take down a work titled “The Dream Screen” (there’s a link to it at zonoart.com) because of complaints.
I’m happy to say that the art community of “Jay Tree” responded with great support. I got emails, well wishes and legal advice. People were writing me for details and contacting the local media. There were over a HUNDRED posts about it on Facebook! The Grand Opening of the new Chamber’s space was well attended, with people wearing tags I made saying things like “I’m Naked Under These Clothes,” and “Not Rude, Just Nude.”
I’m not interested in supporting pornography, myself; I just don’t believe that depictions of the human body are ALL pornographic. There’s a vocal minority in this country that really need to grow up and quit pushing their repressions off onto others. (Yep, it’s those same ol’ “mental barriers” I mentioned earlier…)
GC: And lastly, what futuristic gadget do you feel you couldn’t live without?
Rik: The Zono Stationary Time Position Revolver (patent pending)! This is different, in concept, than your “run-of-the-mill” time machine concepts.
We are able to move about, to some degree, in the three ordinary dimensions of space – height ,width and depth – yet time is always experienced as a one-direction-only space where we don’t have this kind of freedom. There’s a recent theory that this is because the Big Bang threw us in one “time direction” with such power, that we can’t move anyway but “forward” into the future. If so, that would be a lot of force for a time machine to counteract, at least in moving “sideways” or “backward.”
So, what I’d like to suggest is “merely” a device which TURNS US AROUND in time, so we are FACING FORWARD, toward the future. As it is now, we can only “see” the past, and so we “drive” BACKWARD into the future. It just seems to me that facing the direction we’re going would be a whole lot safer, huh? So, uh, inventors, get on constructing that, would you? And try to make it about the size of an ipod, okay? I’ll be looking in my Christmas stocking for it…
- Zono Art
- Rik Livingston on Epilogue
- Rik Livingston on My Fantasy Art
- The Cheap Science Fiction Book Covers Gallery
- Crossroads Cafe and Tavern
- Joshua Tree Chamber of Commerce
- Adobe Creative Suite on Amazon