Friday, September 11, 2009

constructing a time traveler girl

As I was growing up, I always loved time travel stories. In fact, when I was a teenager I once wrote a novel about a time traveler. It was so stupid. It was about this guy who


maybe I’ll use that.

With the whole hubbub about the Time Traveler’s Wife movie, I decided at Powell’s to stage a window display that highlights other time travel books. Like Finney’s Time After Time, Wells’ The Time Machine, The Accidental Time Machine, A Wrinkle in Time, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (hence my earlier post)… My favorite is Slaughterhouse Five.

I loved loved loved

putting the graphic together. First because I got to emulate some excellent old silent movies I’ve been watching lately – those sci-fi epics with the great, elaborate costumes and sets, all kooky and constructivist. Metropolis, of course, and then there’s Aelita, Queen of Mars. Look at those great head-dresses.

Oh, I loved loved loved

that movie.

Here’s a detail of my time traveler girl in her time pod about to be blasted off to some monumentally exciting time period in the future.


To construct her, I used images I found on the websites Morguefile and Flickr’s Creative Commons.

Here’s the original girl, courtesy of photographer Julianne Hide – she’s the model as well.

To put together the main part of her space suit, I used a photo I found of a pair of weird metal somethings on the deck of the Queen Mary. I have no idea what they are.

They got smoothed down her torso as a sort of bodice, and then one was used, mostly in its intact state, as a sort of accessory to wing out over her arm. Because - well, you know, all futuristic sci-fi costumery has to have something like that.

For the other extras on her time travel suit, I found a gear from some piece of machinery and a coil from a wrought iron fence.

And her intrepid adventurer's helmet? That's the Sydney Opera House.

For her time travel pod, I used mostly very simple objects. A wine glass. A stack of coins. One of those tall silver cups they give you with your chocolate malted. To all of the objects I used on the girl and her pod, I gave some grain to make it look more like an old photograph.

In looking for a coil for her costume, I stumbled upon the crowning glory for the piece. This is called a magnifier tesla coil. I have no idea what it's for other than making lovely Frankenstein lightning shoot out in all directions, but I realized I had to have me some cool electric rays for my time machine.

And that thing just under the lightning and capping the wine glass time travel pod? That's the top of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. The Islamic temple built over the rock where supposedly Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac, Solomon built the First Temple, and Mohammad ascended to heaven. It was built in the seventh century.

Which seemed like a cool bit of cosmic to include in my time machine, although once I had it in there, I realized it pretty much just looks like some upside-down mixing bowl.

One last piece of show and tell in this display graphic. A great constructivist photo-montage from 1932, with Lenin presiding like Godzilla over the masses.

Note the electricity pylon, which I used in my piece.

The project was great fun - and now I know that if I can get a wine glass, some coins, a milkshake cup and the top of the Dome of the Rock, I can go back in time and be way cooler in high school.


picture attributions: julianne hide, sin_magic / lake steele, mecookie / michael, betta design / francisco martins, tesla1000 / clintLightning


  1. Excellent!!

    But you can't go back to high school; I'd miss you.

  2. This is really fantastic.. I can't begin to figure out how you do these things..

  3. This is really fantastic... I CAN figure out how you do these things.... If only I had that last ingredient.... talent.