Primordial Essence

Please click for larger view
Oil on canvas
60” x 25”

Dystopian societies and far-flung, post-apocalyptic futures are possibly some of my more favored science fiction and fantasy settings. I have drawn inspiration from the grimdark atmosphere of plagues and pandemics in the construction of some of my own worlds, but never did I envision myself living through one.

This painting has been sitting in my studio since 2014. It was created as cover art for Revilement’s upcoming album ‘Primordial Essence’ (concept and title by frontman, Joe Henley). It has yet to see the light of day. Like many things in life, projects take their own twists and turns despite everyone’s best intentions. I am still happy for having had the opportunity to paint it, and given the current global crisis, there does not seem to be a more appropriate time to share it than now.

It is about a plague borne out of the apathy of a consumerist society –not much different from the circumstances prior to the Covid-19 outbreak. The scenario in the painting is bleaker because there is no cure, and therefore no hope. People are resorting to arbitrary gods, symbols, cults, and rituals, in their desperation to find some inner peace before they expire. 

Back in this reality, people are flocking outdoors and throwing all caution to wind upon the relaxation of some current quarantine measures. It feels like all the benefits of the 2 months of community quarantine and social distancing can be undone in the blink of an eye. It also feels like humanity in general is afflicted by a bigger plague with no cure –indifference. 

The human affliction goes above and beyond this virus, and though we’re going through some sort of reality check, for some it doesn’t seem to be enough. We should not be passengers of reality. We should create it. 

We will repeat the same mistakes. 

We will never learn.

Production Notes:

I. Original Project Proposal for full CD layout

II. These excerpts are from my correspondences with Revilement’s Joe Henley, back when we were developing the lore. 

a. Other Species:

Since humankind has controlled and bent nature to its will,  the human body no longer adapts to the environment. With lack of exposure to pathogens and external stimuli, the inadvertent effect is immuno-suppression.

Wild animals are ‘exposed’ to elements without  means of intervention, their immune systems are more capable of producing antibodies. Carnivores who feed off diseased human flesh get a low dose of the disease in ‘nosode-al’ form so they build resistances. When a prey animal is wounded  by a carnivore and escapes, another low dose of the bacteria beneficially transmits some immunity as well. Therefore, animals manage to survive and reproduce with milder deformation and much lower mortality.

b. On the protozoans and the human female reproductive system:

The Protozoan plague originated from a globalized race to advance Eugenics. Studying embryonic stem cells to determine which genes do what makes bio-laboratory waste  a new global concern.

The strain of protozoans involved ‘used to’ produce a specific protein in order to reproduce mitotically. This protein was very similar to human ‘Mof’ protein – the key to stem cell immortality and differentiation. Since the bio waste was so readily available, the protozoans evolved to consume human Mof protein in order to divide, eventually losing the ability to synthesize their own.  When microbial overpopulation ensued, they moved onto living hosts. 

Adult human stem cells such as the ones in our bone marrow are also a passable building material for the protozoans, however embryonic Mof is most compatible with their purpose. This makes human women in the first 10 weeks of gestation (stem cell period) most susceptible and also most capable of transmitting the bacteria.

One of your song titles implies that the protozoans anaerobically need methane to survive. However, methane as a compound is not readily available inside the human body. Consuming human Mof also enables the bacteria to survive inside their hosts.

As for passing on the bacteria, I was thinking that it is particle borne through excretions/secretions. However, unlike HIV, the protozoans are not susceptible to the external environment because they came from there in the first place. Greenhouse gases contain ample amounts of methane so they in fact thrive in the Anthropocene. They only need the humans to reproduce at a plague rate.

c. The iconologic significance of the number 7:

People who are exposed to the plague manifest symptoms in 7 days. Therefore, living past day 7 is cause for celebration…temporarily at least. 7 also maintains a strong connection with the ‘archaic’ religions such as the role of Christianity in the future. The Biblical God made the earth in 7 days, but the arbitrariness of 7 is sustained in that aspect.

Let me know if you see any loopholes, or want to add on or change anything. Once we’ve established the lore, the fun can begin!

d. Additional notes:

The protozoans prefer embryonic MoF protein over somatic (adult stem cell) MoF, but they consume the somatic MoF found in our bone marrow as well. Eventually, a diseased person’s blood loses all its cells, because the stem cells that turn into red blood cells and white blood cells are depleted. What we end up with is just barren plasma which becomes the moisture rich environment for the lichens to take hold. In the process, they draw all this moisture out and the victims become petrified and contorted depending on their density on the body’s surface.

IV. Disc Design Prototypes