by Thibault Froissant
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- i d e n t i t y
Having to pick a personality you are interested in or fascinated by sounds like an easy choice. You could probably give 10 names that would come from 10 different fields. Art, music, friends, cinema, fiction, family, sports…
But the hardest part is to retain one of these names. It took me 3 days to make up my mind, and I chose a serial killer. Kit Carruthers. Kit is a fictional character from Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973), loosely based on Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate deadly getaway in the late 50′s.
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So now I have to make a M A S K based on his personality
I always start a Design project by choosing the materials I want to use. How can they be related to Kit? Why metal and leather could be more relevant than wood and velvet? To answer this questions I watched the movie again, and tried to focus on Kit clothing and on the most basic and symbolic materials I could find. I watched it two times, and did more than 80 screenshots.
Because the story takes place in the late 50′s, and because of the states they are driving through, the American imagery is omnipresent. Kit is constantly wearing an all denim outfit, with a white shirt underneath his jacket and Santiags boots on his feet. I also found a lot of the same kind of strong materials through the movie like metal, chains, leather and wood .
I selected this 4 main materials as a starting point for the mask: leather, metal, denim and wood. I also used foam and net during the researches, but this was to have a structure to support the whole mask. Then it would be covered with leather, jean, and nails.
I also wanted the mask to be like a trap, or a specific kind of helmet that would give a feeling of confinement. Acoustic foam was probably the best way to give this inside feeling. It is made to create a silent room, free the space from all the outside interactions.
When Kit and Carry decided to hit the road and travel through the states in the late fifties, they also decided to kill every single person standing in their way. It was Kit’s idea of commitment and determination. The acoustic foam appeared to me like the best material to illustrate that stubbornness and persistence in the way they were going and goal they wanted to achieve.
Wearing the mask, the person would now be rapped in acoustic and isolating foam, with a tight vision on the outside world because of the thin opening on the outside created with the helmet shape and the visor. I used a wood wire as a visor.
My main issue was to find a way to give the foam a rounded shape so it would fit a head. I first used chicken wire as a base and then stick the foam over it. But the wire itself was not very bendable, and the result didn’t convince me.
I used metal wire to fix the visor to the foam. And I figured out a way to use it to get the mask in shape. I put the metal wire inside and out at a regular interval, it would turn into a kind of skeleton for the mask and be able to adapt to any kind of rounded shaped supports.
After trying different combinations with a metal wire and foam, i tried to combine nails with acoustic foam. The association of the sharpness of the nail and the malleability of the foam created an interesting contrast. But the outside was still to soft to express the violence of the the personality I was working on, so I gave the nails a function by adding leather over the foam. I remember seeing this pattern on Chesterfield leather couches, but with this rounded wearable shape and the black color leather, it was more like a porn masochist movie.
The last part of the process was to fix the leather to the foam with the nails. I also add blue jeans in-between. First because of the symbol of the material, how it is associated with America and the character that inspired this mask, but also to have more roughness on the outside. Even if it looked already kind of violent with the nails and the black leather, the blue jeans that pops out of the rapped leather gives the impression of an used helmet. Just like motorcycle helmets are striped after a while, this damaged leather leads us to think that somebody wore it and somehow crashed with it.
After passing them through the foam, the nails were coming out on the inside of the mask together with the metal wire structure. I protect and prevent this sharpness by adding a thin layer of foam, but this contrast between the two surfaces and the pain of the inside fit my inspiration. Pain is first graphically represented with the outside pattern and this almost pornographic look, but it becomes physical on the inside because of the pointed nails.
I bought some extra foam to cover it so the mask would be wearable, but I didn’t use it. These 50 nails going all over the inside from the outside stand as a metaphor of Kit’s pain and illness. It is also a way to restrict the movement of the one wearing the helmet. The pressure of the nails doesn’t allow any friction. If the person doesn’t move too much, it is possible to wear it for a few minutes. I had to do it to shoot some final pictures. I could still feel the nails even after took it off.