Get cozy this winter with arts, ink.

Welcome to arts, ink., where our student artists and writers are given a forum to illuminate the Michigan student experience through art. Why not get cozy at home and read, watch and listen to some of what they’ve created this fall… We’ve compiled some of our favorite posts from the past few months under the “Winter Break Reading List” tag for you to enjoy!

If you’re a U-M student interested in becoming a weekly contributor, there may be a position available to get paid for your work. We review applications and hire new bloggers twice a year, in September and January. Read more about Blogging Opportunities here!
Email us at arts@umich.edu with questions.

The Magician’s Diaries: Clerical Healing Magic

Hello, my children,

It had not been but recently where I again pondered the unique disparities between more ancient holy magics and the modern understanding of proper casting. Many folk still retain their connection to the ancient gods. Such forces play games with the souls and ambitions of mortals, and it is quite savage I should say. Contrastingly, it is the way of the modern magician to worship those forebears which paved the way for our greater, shared understanding in such a manner that institutions like these could survive. The Ascended Eight, in their dreamful march towards deification, hoped to remove us mortals from the specific interference of Old Gods and their ever-encroaching spinning of fate. As the tales tell, these few nearly succeeded. However, there was but one matter which they were unable to strip from the domain of the ancient divines:  counteracting death.

Perhaps I should paint a different picture. The local gladiator, Khosula, finishes a match and returns to the pit where she is greeted by her retinue of cultists. Khosula, likely worshipping the mother of all ravens as a gladiator is one to do, sees death as inevitable and all but common in her line of work. Playing the dance of swords leads to a misstep every once in a while, and it behooves them to plead directly to the mother so that they may exist on the side of least bloodshed. However, in a society that celebrates the drama of near-death, an industry of gladiators falling left and right permits not continued feuding or public interest.

Individuals such as Khosula are sponsored by a respective church dedicated to one of the many Old Gods. Upon leaving the ring after a battle, every need is tended to and, importantly, every wound is healed. To have a represented combatant succeed in the colosseum is integral to establishing superiority over other, waning sects while too incentivizing the patronage of donors who bet well on such fighters. Again, the reality is that many of these gladiators do not believe in the organizations which feed them money and healing. It is merely a symbiotic relationship.

Such forces have the ability to both create and take awake the force of living, and upon evoking the name of one’s deity, these clerical magicians can repair skin where it had sloughed off. Superficial tears in tendons are knitted back together, in some cases, broken bones can be reconstructed with enough care and attention to anatomy. However, it is all a matter of timing and the quality of one’s resources.

Khosula now is a gilded celebrity, yet her early career often left her bruised and scarred with no relief or medical attention. One untimely day, despite dominating her opponent, she received an unlucky blow to her left eye that could not be healed, so now she stalks the battlefield having an imperfect blur of vision. Their powers are limited to the capabilities of the healer, which varies wildly amongst each worshipper based upon their true devotion and experience.

While not being perfect, this is what remains so tantalizing about the Old Gods. In a time of faith and high mortality, community leaders rise to power because they possess the immediate ability to relieve pain and to undo the shortcomings of one’s natural limitations. One can return from a wolf attack without the worry of infection, but there always remains a price to pay. The hunger which consumes you, that which owns you, transfers from wolf to the church.  Your price is favor and devotion to individuals defined by their idolatry of fickle, unpredictable allegories of universal experience.

The modern magician looks upon The Eight for guidance. While a wildly successful interpretation of systems of magic, The Eight were unable to properly resolve the issue of lifeforce. Some of you may be asking me where necromancy contributes to this larger conversation, but you must too recognize that necromancy involves the forfeit of the soul to reproduce tissue and rearrange nerves. 

 

While hope appears lost, that mustn’t stop you from the eternal march forward in the understanding of a world designed to limit the extent of mortal understanding. That is the way of the magician and The Eight before us, and that is how we will liberate ourselves from the obsessive eccentricities of the Old Gods once and for all. 

 

Until next time,

-The Magician

 

Leo the Mer-Guy! Chapter Eleven: Initiation

 

Leo stood in front of the crackling flames all by himself.

 

Ruby shuffled forward, tossing a log that was as big as her onto the flames with a furious vigor. She looked up at Leo with a small smile. “Good luck,” she whispered, before slinking back into the shadows.

 

The rest of the witches were all behind Leo, watching him like an audience watching a stage performer.

 

“Think about yourself as you are now, what you look like and how you feel,” Ash called out, adopting their Gandalf voice.

 

Leo closed his eyes. He pictured his cobbled-together costume, his lanky shoulders and androgynously moppy hair. He felt the stress of the last day–the last month, the last year–and the increasing expectations being placed on him by his parents. He felt his exhaustion.

 

“Now think about where you want to be in the future. What you look like and how you feel.”

 

Leo stood up straighter. He saw himself as he saw himself. A brighter smile, broader shoulders. For some reason he was fixated with his arm hair. He’d always wanted to have hairy arms like his dad. He also wanted better glasses, glasses like Daniel Radcliffe wears. He saw himself as a well-meaning theater boy, someone sensitive and serious. Someone who felt confident, secure in their skin. Someone who was happy with where they were and had hope for where they’d be next. Not all of this confusion and uncertainty he felt now.

 

Ji-fu appeared by his side. He felt her presence more than saw it, blinking his eyes open and startling at her presence. “Jesus, you scared me!” Leo exclaimed.

 

She handed him a smooth, flat stone and walked away.

 

“Make a wish, and breathe that wish into the stone,” Ash said. “Then throw your wish into the flames.”

 

The little hairs on the back of Leo’s neck stood up, making him shiver. Okay, maybe he could get into the whole witch thing. The vibes here tonight were off the charts.

 

Leo cupped the cool stone in his hands, holding it up to his lips. He closed his eyes and whispered, “I want to be myself. I want to be accepted. I want to be happy. I want to be strong.”

 

He opened his eyes. He gripped the stone tightly in his sweaty palms and launched it into the flames.

 

He let out a breath. That felt good, really good. There was a kind of therapy to it. He felt more centered, more present in his body.

 

A loud pop emanated from the flames. A beat later, the stone launched itself out of the flames, arching across the sky, hot and molten orange. It fell into the pond with a steamy hiss and a muted splash.

Poetry v. The World: April snow

Every time finals comes around, I expect a lot more than I get.

It’s never been super-crazy-hectic for me. It gets a lot busier, but I’ve still, after 4 semesters, never lost more than a few hours of sleep over studying for this stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still using it as an excuse to get out of certain things haha. But still, I never got the big deal.

What I DO feel during finals is worthless. I sort of thrive on the stress of always having something going on. That fast-paced, focused mood is what I thrive in. It’s why my hair is falling out, but it also makes finals week a lot more reflective than it should be.

Since I’m a film major, a majority of my free-time on weekends is spent on sets. If you don’t believe me, for the biggest project I’ve worked on yet, we filmed for 17 days over 6 weekends. It was a huge time commitment, and at the time I had midterms and homework and all this other stuff piled on top of it. As opposed to know, when it all slows down into finals. And since I’m a film student, my finals tend to be pretty light in comparison to others. I go from 100 to 0 in the span of a couple of weeks.

So with all these massive commitments of mine ending and a whole few months before I get the busy-buzz again, I get really anxious. I turn on myself and think that I’m just wasting time when I should be planning for something else. I should be studying or trying to make plans for summer or doing something for my future. I think the problem is I never allow myself the time to rest. That’s why transitions between those hectic moments are so hard for me to get through. Instead of taking them as moments to pause, breath, and reflect on some of the work I’ve done, I use them to torture myself.

It’s unfair to me, and I gotta get better at it, but I’ve taken the first step and acknowledged it, so that’s something.

Please everyone, take care of yourself and try not to stress yourselves out too much. I’m sure you’re gonna do great!

Sincerely,

Jonah J. Sobczak

-jonahso

 

The Artist’s Panel: Bird

Hello everyone! To any of the UofM students out there reading this: A little bird told me that you might need some encouragement during this exam season. You’re doing great! You are capable! Drink some water and be kind to yourself! Have a safe, productive and healthy week, all. This little bird believes in you, and so do I.

Immersive #10: Semester Insights

As the college semester comes to a close so too does this semester’s Immersive section come to an end. From the nine different features written this semester, we’ve been exposed to several different ways to engage an audience with a creative project and to put a new spin on traditional methods of storytelling, which have left us with three key insights that we can take inspiration from for our own personal projects and stories to make them more engaging:

First, unconventional media creates intrigue from a lack of pre-existing expectations.

  • Scarfolk Council (#2): Utilizing aesthetics from the past combined with off-kilter imagery can invoke an eerie yet compelling sense of nostalgia.
  • Birds Aren’t Real (#3): Portraying subtle criticism through popular culture and memes allows for satirical messages to be spread without being taken too seriously.
  • The Sun Vanished (#6): Watching a story unfold real-time through social media creates suspense through the wait between posts and allows it to blend into the noise of everyday life.
  • 17776 (#7): Embracing absurdity and taking inspiration from a diverse range of topics can create something fresh that compels an audience to read more to learn about the areas of interest.

Second, non-linear narratives make player choice worthwhile.

  • AI Dungeon (#4): Involving AI to create original narratives allows for players to take agency over the story that is presented to them and create something uniquely their own.
  • Hades (#5): Creating evolving stories based around player choice makes every decision impactful and pursued with care.
  • Fallen London (#8) – Leaving room for elaboration within a story enables creators to have flexibility in writing future content in the same universe and creates intrigue within an audience to learn more about the world.

Third, intentional design reinforces the purpose of the story in a meaningful manner.

  • Life in a Day (#1): Drawing from community-based submissions allows for a more diverse yet unified experience to be portrayed on screen.
  • Loving Vincent (#9): Being true to the purpose of the project during all stages of production allows for the audience to also feel all the love and passion as well when observing the final result.

Overall, there are many more insights that each feature contributes to the discussion on creating immersive content that can be found within their own individual posts, but just from these short snip-bits of advice, we can truly see how the choices that a creator makes during the production process can have a significant impact on how an audience engages with and talks about the final product.

Read more Immersive content: HERE

+KHAOS+ EP.22: BACK ON EARTH, HUMANITY’S GREATEST NIGHTMARE

+KHAOS+ EP.22: BACK ON EARTH, HUMANITY’S GREATEST NIGHTMARE

+KHAOS+ EP.22: BACK ON EARTH, HUMANITY’S GREATEST NIGHTMARE

Milo, Kira, and Ed barely made it back to earth, only to find every SALV standing getting taken over by malicious parasitic robots that were released through the disintegrated parts of Ellea that had just hit earth. Humanity’s greatest weapon and hope turning into humanity’s greatest fear, Ed is left with a fatal mission to protect Milo and Kira.

+Author’s Comment+

Hope this one looks like nightmare fuel.
Feel free to follow my Instagram art account: @kats.art.folder