This may well be my first post here, but I'm glad to have all of you in one place again. In my second collaboration with an artist that I respect a lot - EmmanueLabor - I put my painting skills to the test for some Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas-themed Nike Dunks. Expect a long rant on the project, because it took me a year and a half. Skip to the last paragraph if you just want to hear how the iPods sit in there.
In the game, there has been a nuclear fallout a few hundred years back, in an alternate history where the Cold War turned into an atomic bombing of the US. Culture pretty much halts at Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and the Andrews Sisters, and everyone who can hides underground in vaults. They keep the same music and movies, but technology still advances. With limited resources, the whole game has a post-apocalyptic, torn up feel. Each character that lives in a vault gets a device called a Pip-Boy attached to their nervous system on their wrist, which reads their vitals so they can watch their radiation levels if they ever go up onto land. In Fallout 3, the protagonist's father leaves the Vault and you pursue him, first to a town called Megaton, where a house-sized nuke has fallen in the middle of the city undetonated and the citizens create a religion around it. In New Vegas, you are shot in the head and a pursuing your assailant.
Now that the backstory is out of the way, here are the details of the design:
The tongues feature jailbroken iPod Touches that have been given sounds, themes, apps, music, and related materials to fit the Fallout universe. Originally I had planned to sculpt or paint the tongues out to look like the actual Pip-Boy device, but it was too noisy. Instead, I trusted the Pip-Boy theme to do the job, and it does in a much more subtle way. On the sides are painted a soldier in Power Armor from Fallout 3 and a Ranger from New Vegas.
The music from the games really sets the tone, and packing the iPods full of the soundtracks wasn't quite enough, so I devised a custom speaker sculpture to plug into the tongues of the shoes that EL made for the project. I had never sculpted anything in my life except the lace-ends of my Kratos Kicks, so this was extremely difficult for me, and combined with the 70-100 hours I put in on the shoes, took me the better part of a year and a half working off and on to get the project up to my standards.
Aside from merely sculpting the bomb to look as though it was inspired by the nuke in Megaton, I had to custom wire the damn thing to play music from speakers inside of it. I had never done anything like this before, and took IMMENSE precautions to ensure that the speakers were not touching anything inside, that the silicone board was stable and touching no metal, that the wires didn't melt as a paintstakingly baked the clay, that everything looked even, and that the bomb surrounded the speaker in a way that was attractive and somewhat symmetrical - if torn up and rusted-looking.
Then, after alllllll of this work, I melted the inside of one of the speakers after the sculpting was about 98% complete. What's worse, I had told the client that he would have his shoes the next week after waiting for over a year. I realized later that while baking on the second speaker (originally there was one speaker in the front of the bomb, with knobs beneath it on teh face, and one in the rocks), I was directing hot air into a little tiny fuckin hole in the bottom of the bomb. Since the hot air had nowhere to go, it just sat in there and baked the insides that I had worked so hard for so many months to protect. I wanted to give up so much, but the I spoke to some of the other artists in my collective and they helped talk me off of the ledge, giving me new ideas to work out my design.
One roommate suggested that the bomb would look better anyway if made the face clean and round, with just some rivets. He suggested the only place a speaker exist be in the rocks, like the bomb crashed into the speaker years ago. While the original intention was to make the bomb itself the speaker, and the rocks just the base with a little moat like the game, and this being the exact opposite, I was hesitant. Plus, I couldn't put two new speakers in because the whole thing was structured around the speakers that were already in there, and I might as well just have started over. But I had no other options, so with $30 in my pocket I walked out my front door to find a solution. Luckily, some hustler on the corner was selling bootleg speakers from Korea that sounded better than the speaker system I had in place before, so I picked it up for $20 and went back in to get to work.
As fate would have it, this one was much easier, cuz I just surrounded it in clay and carefully baked it. I was so pissed about my misfortune that I just left all of the parts inside from the carcass of my previous speakers. Some of the rocks and things are where they are because they're actually coiled up cords or pieces of speaker. Then I spent two weeks telling the client "one more day" and spending 14 hours a day sanding and dremmeling til my hands literally bled. I painted with my rustic technique and got it as perfect as I could, then sent them out.
As for the tongues, EL should explain in the comments, but the basic idea was this: I needed to install the iPods and my only idea was to design tongues framed around iTouch cases. The problem is that, unlike the iPhone, the iTouch has a headphone jack ON THE BOTTOM. So we had to put in an extension and guide the jack to the top of the shoe. Much like the jerry-rigged weapons in the game, we came up with a cool solution that left a dope-looking headphone input sticking out of the top. I needed them to open and close with Velcro, and for the tongues to stay put when laced only four holes up, so EL also had to install some elastic material. I don't know how he did everything I asked of him, but he pulled it off.