New Year’s Eve was great fun. Karen and I went to the Heaven and Hell Ball at Consolidated Works downtown. This was a masquerade ball whose theme was, of course, Heaven and Hell. Karen, playing for the Hell team, went as sort of a flamboyant Goth pirate. I took Heaven’s side and went in my usual masquerade costume of a bathrobe, t-shirt, boxer shorts, and slippers. (This was initially inspired by the film The Big Lebowski a couple masquerade balls back, when Scott Glancy would go as Walter to my Dude.) I borrowed a brand-new, blazing white terrycloth bathrobe from Karen’s housemate Noah to complete the effect.

Consolidated Works is an interesting place. It’s a multi-disciplinary arts space. What this means is that they choose a theme–like their initial entry, Artificial Life–and then present films, art, live performance, readings & lectures, and music. Their original facility opened in the fall of 1999 with a short-term lease that was extended a couple times before the building was finally torn down. Their new space is a 30,000 square-foot warehouse where they’ll be recreating the cinema, gallery space, and live-performance hall that they had before, but now larger, better, and reasonably permanent. It’s a terrific mission, and they’ve done it pretty well so far. Karen and I went to two other masquerades at ConWorks that were fantastic. For one, Karen created a set of very large art nouveau-style glittery gold suns with expressive faces, suspended high above the floor. At midnight we lowered them for blind-man’s-bluff, and when burst open they spilled out candy, condoms, and other treats.

Her housemate Ned created a sculpture for that party, and did it again for the Heaven and Hell Ball. The new one was a much-improved version of the previous one, and was just fantastic. Ned makes amazing, three-dimensional light sculptures by projecting geometric figures through a field of mist, created by humidifiers. This year I spent the afternoon of New Year’s Eve helping Ned get set up at ConWorks. Here’s a shot of the central trio of obelisks that contain the humidifiers, taken during setup:

When the lights went down and the sculpture went into action, it was stunning. He had three slide projectors pointed at the three sides of the triangle made by the obelisks. Each projected a different image. One was a 3×3 grid, one was a bunch of concentric circles, and the third was a sort of rectangle-diamond structure. When the flat image was projected through the three-dimension mist field, it extended into three dimensions itself. And because you could only see the light catching the mist when you were facing a given projector, you only saw one image at a time. As you walked around the obelisks, you saw a completely different shape from each side. Here is a very poor photograph of the grid image:

It actually looked much fuller and detailed than this suggests. Not to mention its complete dimensionality. The 3×3 grid became a cube with top and bottom but no front or back, divided by internal walls into nine sections like a wall of postboxes. As your perspective changed, you saw the cube from very different angles.

In addition, the mist was not a constant mass. It was very insubstantial and always moving. Where the mist was less dense, the image was non-existent. Where the mist was thick, the image was strong. So the concentric circles seemed to telescope towards and way from you with the flow of the mist, since when denser mist moved outwards it would catch the light from the circles that intersected it.

Anyway, it was spectacular. ConWorks has asked Ned to participate in their first big show in the new space, a show whose theme is Science Fiction. Should be cool. I shot a bunch of video of the piece to document it for Ned’s portfolio, and hopefully that footage will turn out strong.

But, this was a party after all. The warehouse is divided into two huge areas, one of which was decorated as Heaven and one as Hell. Heaven was lit blue, and Hell red. Each side had its own stage with simultaneous live music, plus various lounging areas with multicolored bean bags and decorations. The two halves were joined by a doorway with a sort of beaded curtain, except instead of beads they hung fresh apples. People took bites out of the apples during the night as they passed between Heaven and Hell. Ah, clever, clever. Here’s the doorway during setup, with the normal lights on:

Karen and I were there for about two hours, before we left to finish off the night with friends in Ballard. Here’s Karen in her fabulous pirate gear:

At the ball we ran into Noah, whom I borrowed the bathrobe from, and his friend Monique. Noah took his inspiration from the Bosch painting The Garden of Earthly Delights, which was the subtitle of the ball. Monique just went for naughty, I suppose, complete with a dollar bill crumpled into her bosom:

Here’s Monique, Noah, Ned, myself, and Karen on the couch behind Ned’s sculpture:

In Ballard, we arrived at about 11pm at the apartment of Mary & John. They live on the second floor of an old building on Ballard Ave., and their windows open onto the flat tarpaper roof of the adjoining one-story building. So after a brisk game of charades and a mock apple pie bake-off, we welcomed the new year on the roof with champagne and cigars. It was a great evening. No more photos, though!

The next day we had a new year’s day party at the house Karen, Ned, Noah and Eleanor share in Wallingford, just a few blocks from the first place I lived in Seattle. I cooked up a huge pot of black-eyed-pea soup with ham, Karen made cornbread, and we spent the day hanging out with friends. I rented a bunch of cartoons from Scarecrow — Looney Tunes, original Johnny Quest and Space Ghost, Powerpuff Girls, and Dexter’s Laboratory — and we played the Lord of the Rings boardgame. My friends Daniel and Heather came in the evening, and they were soon followed by Phil & Kaja Foglio and their young son, Victor, whom I shot numerous times with a foam-disc gun. Victor is a hoot and a half.

So, a fun and relatively peaceful holiday. Today I slept late as all heck and then got back to work on the Delta Green computer game project. I’ve been designing the mechanics for the game — how to describe characters, spells, monsters, conduct combat, etc. — which has actually been great fun. Since there’s no need for it to be playable by humans around a table, I can do all sorts of stupid math tricks that would be unacceptable were you actually rolling dice. It’s got bits of Call of Cthulhu, Unknown Armies, and D&D3 in it, and so far it looks good.

The second edition of Unknown Armies is also going well. Here’s a sneak peek at a cool piece of art I just received for the game by a terrific artist in Paraguay whom, of course, I found on the internet:

Well, enough for now. Work to do . . .