In the year 2169, almost a century after the technological advancements that made moving around the solar system a mundane thing available to most people of the fairly uniformly developed countries on the planet Earth, mankind has reached a distant world, and a small group of brave enthusiasts was able to observe a brand new ecosystem with many interesting creatures never seen before.

The expedition started well, it continued for five years with problems and challenges that threatened to turn the expensive endeavor into a disaster, but the talented, resourceful personnel far away from home kept the project going until its successful ending. They explored a wide variety of habitats from the hazy deserts to the dark depths of the alien seas, they filmed, drew, and photographed many strange life forms, creating an enormous database that will be studied for decades to come, and then ...


... they died on the way back home, a light year from Earth.

I'm not a person that can explain to you the technical details of the accident. All I know comes from the news reports of that time. A miscalculation was mentioned. And something about the wrong isotopes. As always, is hard to tell the truth from the politics, sensationalism, and propaganda when it comes to those kinds of reports.
Anyway, the spaceship got stuck in the middle of the vast irradiated, unbreathable nowhere. For some unspecified reason, the life-supporting systems of the vessel failed only a month later, and all the crew perished.

Two decades later, at the end of the century, it must have been 2197 or 2198, a spaceship sent from the independent base on Ganymede, reached the ghostship lost in the cosmic dark. A group of scientists from a new generation of space explorers entered the dead ship in the hope to find the improbable survivors, but they weren't able to save people only recover their work.

I was just a kid back then. A boy prone to daydreaming about space travel and strange worlds for me to explore. As I was growing, getting closer to making my dreams true, the world was changing. After the great war of 2231 that grew from the deep misunderstandings between the major colonies scattered around the planets and satellites orbiting the sun, mankind was far from being destroyed but the golden age of exploration and expansion was over. Not over forever, in my opinion, but I can't expect a change of the tide during my lifetime. The war lasted less than a year, and it didn't destroy the economy or vital resources, but it did shatter some more important things - the trust and the visions of the future.

Right now, in 2262, I'm an old man still in charge of the Martian Center For Biological Researches situated in the capital of the second-grade colony on a second-grade planet with stagnant culture and economy. The Old MC, as we call it, holds all the materials salvaged from the ship that became a tomb for the people on the successful five-year mission of exploring a distant living planet teeming with alien life forms. I, with a small team of experts, am spending my last working years studying and systematizing that large database. It seems that my childhood dreams in the end did come true, only in a quite unexpected, roundabout way.

Doctor Mirilian S. Bugatchev. Arghadville on Mars - 29.12. 2262.


"Picture EGZO - rgx 44/1011001 - 3F678Y. A big, robust, rhinoceros-sized animal in the dense, hazy atmosphere of the equatorial ravine. Plant-like organic formations are spreading their suction-cupped appendages toward the creature, probably in search of small parasites on its skin. Considerably Smaller, balloon-like life forms with no visible mouth or any other orifice can be seen floating around." (From the MCBR archives, Arghadville on Mars)


In the period between 2014 and 2017, I created a large collection of artworks using a compilation technique a developed along the way. In the above photograph you can see a ballpen drawing on office paper, cut - out and attached to a larger piece of paper, and then photographed after being illuminated with a desk lamp.


Here you can see the whole thing hanging on the strings. The paper was connected to the pendant light on the ceiling. I drew hundreds of imaginary animals and used parts of those drawings to create the more realistic creatures shown in the EGZO - rgx 44/1011001 - 3F678Y picture. Some details from the creature shown in the last two shots were actually used for the central artwork of this post - the aforementioned EGZO - rgx 44/1011001 - 3F678Y picture. In the following photograph ...


... you can see the creation I used as the base of the main character of the EGZO - rgx 44/1011001 - 3F678Y picture, the "big, robust, rhinoceros-sized animal" The thing is almost unrecognizable here.


I photographed each drawing in front of the lamp more than once, trying to get slightly different effects by slightly changing the direction of light. Today, while preparing this post, I took some time to play with some of those creations in Photoshop. I added a bit of color here and there - nothing special but I had a bit of fun.


After finishing the project, I stored the cut-out original drawings in a cardboard box that once hosted a pair of shoes. Before putting them aside, probably for good, I photographed some of those simple ballpen creations with my small compact camera. You can see the original drawing of the base creature for the EGZO - rgx 44/1011001 - 3F678Y picture in the above photograph.

Here you can see me drawing in my living room. The photograph was taken in July 2016.


If you take a good look at this crop of the EGZO - rgx 44/1011001 - 3F678Y picture, you'll probably notice the organic textures on the body of the alien animal.

A skinned lamb head bought in the local butcher shop at Easter was used to achieve that meaty effect. I applied fragments of that gory photograph, to a greater or lesser extent, on every artwork in the collection.

For the alien landscape, I used macro photographs of various, more or less mundane, small objects I found inspiring in those years. In this particular case, for the EGZO - rgx 44/1011001 - 3F678Y picture, I applied a detail from the crab's carapace. The crab in question is Maja crispata. That's the scientific name of the species.


One of the creatures from the old drawing shown in this last photograph was also, although in very small doses, used in the EGZO - rgx 44/1011001 - 3F678Y picture.


Borjan Radolovich, @borjan here on Hive - the author of this post. Medulin on Earth, 03.08. 2023.

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