I’m starting to get deeper into designing the space for bavastudio, which feels very good. The centerpiece of this space is going to be the street window that will feature a diorama that provides a tableau of different 80s movies. The idea is that this space changes regularly, and in many ways the space can be experienced as much (if not more) from the outside than the inside. I’m calling this exposition space bava-o-rama, and it’s the first thing to be built.

I’ve been working with Riccardo of Domus to figure out the best way to do this, and after that I think Alberto is going to help build it out. The diorama will try and take as much inspiration from the American Museum of Natural History as possible, but instead of animals of the world, it will be movie scenes of a decade (which is a little lighter on the taxidermy and arguably more humane). That museum’s scenes of wildlife in action has had a spell on my imagination since I first saw them during a visit in elementary school, and the fact that they translated so well for Tommaso when we visited recently was quite encouraging.

Sperm Whale and Giant Squid diorama from AMNH

Often times the dioramas in the museum use a more conventional sense of space/framing to depict a scene, but the sperm whale and the giant squid is a brilliant instance of a part representing the whole, which for many of my scenes may be important given the limited window space. I was watching The Thing yesterday thinking about just this space restriction, and I think the crawling head might be a really good instance of a scalable scene that captures the spirit of the film. For example, what if you had an eye-level look at the Thing (in this case Norris’s head with various spider-like legs and two protruding, stalk-like eyes) under the desk. You focus on the Thing, and use a part of the industrial desk and rolling chair as atmosphere props, and some green goo on the floor and a little blue lighting from above for effect. On closer look, it’s a pretty basic VCT tile floor, so I do think it would be possible to capture this iconic scene from one of my all-time favorite films. There is no way I could have the Thing actually move, but maybe an animation of the eye-stalk, or something simple like that? Also, I hope someone has already reproduced this monster, because that might be a feat.

Image from the Thing of Norris’s head hiding under a desk

But I have some time on that one, because the first film scene I plan on baptizing the bava-o-rama with is from the third episode of Creepshow (1982), namely “Something to Tide You Over.” This is the story were the character played by Leslie Nielsen buries the character played by Ted Danson up to his neck, and waits for the tide to come in in order to drown him.

Scene from Creepshow’s “Something to Tide You Over”

To be extra sinister, he uses a live camera setup to stream his own wife in a similar predicament (who had an affair with the Danson fellow, explaining the elaborate revenge story) who is already fighting a losing battle against the tide a few miles down the shore. It’s a twisted episode for sure, and definitely my favorite from that anthology, but I also think I have enough of the pieces to make it work convincingly. What’s more, on the background of the diorama there will not only be a print or hand-painted rendition of the sky, beach, dunes, and ocean, but also a large exclamation, quoting what Leslie Nielsen’s character screams at the very end when he undergoes a similar fate, “I CAN HOLD MY BREATH FOR A LONG TIME!”

I can Hold my breath for a long time!

I’m mixing and matching a bit given Ted Danson never screams this, and the back of his head will be featured in the diorama, but this is very much inline with how I always mis-remember movie quotes and scenes, so kind of appropriate. Plus, the “holding my breath for a long time” quote is a bit of a dig given how long and difficult it has been to get a simple space like this setup in Italy for all sorts of reasons. I’ll have a cut of the wife drowning from the film on the TV in the bava-o-rama. Based on past work with Michael Branson Smith I’m thinking about using video looper on a raspberry pi hooked up to a this small black and white Motorola TV I have (that is perfect for the job).  That Motorola stopped working a few years back so I’ll have to take a look at that, otherwise I might find/build a facade roughly matching the film’s TV and put another CRT to ensure the effect is perfect. After that, the ingredients are pretty simple, just some sand, a tripod and camera, and a mannequin head with Ted Danson’s hair looking away from the window.

Anyway, I imagine you’re getting a sense of the full power of the ever amazing bava-o-rama. It’s been undergoing a few iterations given the difficulty of my communicating with the folks who will actually build this out, but the following drawings should give you a sense.

Below is a full drawing of the space. The rectangular grey things on the rights are video game cabinets, and that is not the exact setup, but I’m figuring on fitting 17-18  in that space. The right of the drawing (which is what we will be focusing on) is the bavavideo, featuring a wall of videos (blue) at the top, my desk (green), a small couching/watching setup, and to the far top-left the bava exposition window

Below is a close-up of the video store, to give you a better sense of the layout.

I made a rough sketch of the  window area, which was the basis for this idea. It will basically be at angles so that we have room to put the RallyX  (grey rectangle) cocktail cabinet up against the outside wall, which will be covered with wood paneling. Inside the exposition space we have both storage and the stage, the the dead space being important for removing the sides of the stage to re-decorate them for each new scene. We have also since come up with some pull-out drawers beneath the stage to make sure we have ample storage space. Originally I thought the access point would be above the cocktail video game, but that was stupid. There will be a door to the upper-left hand side.

From the following drawing you get a sense of this original idea in play, and the dotted  lines are the removable walls of the stage that will be painted or printed with each new diorama. The floor will be a thick, 3/4″ plywood acting as a base for all the other materials we ultimately use.

To be extra clear, below is an annotated version of the above drawing to give you a sense of what’s what:

So, I think this idea is at a place where we can start building, which is pretty exciting. The angled walls may represent some issues for stability, so we are working through that, but the work has to start with the bava-o-rama, which is very appropriate given it’s what got me motivated once it was clear running an 80s arcade in Italy will be dicey to say the least 🙂

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10 Responses to bava-o-rama

  1. Maren Deepwell says:

    YEAH! excited to see this in progress!

  2. Dude. What if you recreated part of the dog kennel scene, with the flailing tendrils? could look amazing in a window display…

  3. Michael Smith says:

    Can we make so a couple can come in and put their heads through a fake floor with sand and see each other as they’re about to drown? Kind of like those stand-ups at Coney Island where two people pop their heads into holes to look like a muscly beach couple, but in this case horizontal, horror instead.?

    No matter what this look awesome. I want to come to Italy!!!

    • Reverend says:

      I have already stolen the idea and re-fashioned it to have folks put their face in the stead of the Shining twins in the hallway of the Overlook, that one is gonna be a blast, and we can setup a photo/polaroid deal so folks can get a quick pick of them in that scenario. I sketched it out already on the flight to Berlin:

      IMage of sketch oof bavaorama for shining with twins

  4. GNA says:

    Wow and WOW! I ADORE this for you Jim. What a great combination of your artistic loves! I’m also stoked about the public feedback slash interactions it will invite. Gorgeous!!!

    • Reverend says:

      Thanks GNA, I am pretty excited about this. I very controlled and simple play off the work I did with Tim in Freddy, but I learned that I was starting to go crazy without it here in the land of pasta and red tape.

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