Monday, December 21, 2009

Ranking the DCAAPB posters

Four months after it began, the Lost Underground Art Project unveiled it final poster, the sixteenth, shortly after 10:43pm PST on the sixteenth of December, 2009. This very unique Lost ARG served weekly shots of adrenaline to the hearts of eager Lost fans around the globe.

Below I've provided my personal reactions to each of the sixteen posters, and ranked them from favourite to least favourite. I haven't explicitly rationalized my judgment criteria, but it no doubt took into account various factors such as colour, detail, technique, subject matter, emotional effect, size, "artistry" (whatever that is), coolness, and overall Lost-iness.

I love the fact that my least favourite poster appears as number one on the lists of others. Please don't take offense if I offer negative criticism against a poster you love.

And here we go:

#1 The Crash by Eric Tan
I love this poster. I loved it when it was first revealed on the website. I loved it when I unrolled it from the poster tube. And I still love it as much if not more today. The balance of the composition is amazing. The sense of chaos and energy created by the the zigzag patterns and jagged trees and clouds is visceral. The placement of elements within the scene is brilliant. The likeness of Jack and Locke are bang-on. The depiction of Kate and Sawyer veer somewhat more toward caricature, but nevertheless to my eyes they exude Kate-liness and Sawyer-tude. Sure, Claire and Christian are a little generic, and turquoise isn't my favourite colour, but I'll let those slide due to the overall awesomeness of the piece.

#2 The Smoke Monster by Ken Taylor
This is a very dramatic poster depicting a confrontation between the Smoke Monster and Mr. Eko, one of my favourite survivors of Oceanic 815. I really appreciate the fine detail present in the trees, the vegetation, and Smokey itself. The use of metallic gold paint throughout the piece provides added interest. At first I was perplexed by Eko's unnaturally red surroundings, but I've since rationalized it as a distortion of reality caused by Smokey's presence. Besides, the red looks cool and it matches my decor! A small disappointment is the fact that we only see Eko from the back -- would have been nice to see him at least in profile, though I realize this would have changed the dynamic of the piece. I'm proud to own this poster.

#3 Jacob's Cabin (a.k.a. "And that's why my hand was shaking. Because this is not a man you go and see, this is a man who summons you." by Daniel Danger
For me, this is the one that got away. The technique in this piece is amazing. The detail, the colour, the rain effect, all incredible. There's magic in this one, and as I look at it (and this is just via the website on an LCD screen, mind you) I'm pulled into the scene and I'm filled with nervous tension. Downside? Not much, though the identity of the soul approaching the cabin is perhaps not completely clear. Some have said Locke, others Ben, still others say it may be an amalgam of the two. My money's on Locke. Perhaps in a few months I'll look into buying this print. For now I've partially assuaged my disappointment by purchasing a different (but similarly fantastic) poster from the supremely talented Daniel Danger.

#4 LOST by Tyler Stout
This poster's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. It features a sprawling collection of Lost characters, locations, and events crammed into the 24x36 canvas. There isn't much room here for singular artistic vision. Not that I'm complaining. I like having characters present in the posters, and many of the first fifteen we lacking in this respect. Most of the likenesses are well done, and I like the way that events from different episodes have been integrated into a single image. Even Vincent makes an appearance! The limited number of colours typical of screen printing seems more apparent in this poster than in the others, perhaps due to its larger size and variety. There sure are a lot of blue shirts! I was fortunate to purchase this one and anxiously await its arrival.

#5 Rousseau's Transmission by Dan McCarthy
This is another poster with great technique. I love the way that the island's peaks tower above the six small silhouettes huddled in a jungle depression. The fine detail of the foreground trees contrasted against the low detail of the background mountains creates a palpable sense of depth and height. The extra-tall 18x30 dimensions of the poster also adds to the vertiginous effect. The colours on this print are significantly different than those shown on the DCAAPB website. I actually like the website colours better, though many others seemed to have the opposite opinion. My other nitpick is the appearance of the speech bubble, which to my eye detracts from the beauty of the image. But overall this is a lovely piece of art, and it is the only poster for which I made a special effort to find a more elaborate frame (with custom mat) to complement its artistry.

#6 The Hatch by Kevin Tong
I wasn't too keen on this poster when it was first revealed, but it has grown on me over time. At the time of the reveal, the Locke's Secret poster had previously been released, and I had recently purchased the McFarlane Hatch diorama, so maybe I was just a little Locke'd out. Also I'm not a big fan of the shade of green used. But today I can appreciate it as an interesting, cooly surreal depiction of a key part of Lost lore. It is a great print to look at while pondering the mystery and machinations of Lost.

#7 Ben Linus by Todd Slater
This is an interesting portrait which I tried, but failed, to purchase. I feel sympathy for the Ben Linus shown here. I see a man who isn't quite whole, who hasn't quite grown up. A man cradling a bunny but seemingly detached from it. A man desperately trying to keep one step ahead of those around him. A fragile but dangerous man.

#8 The Barracks by Nate Duval
This is another print which didn't thrill me when it was first revealed, but I warmed to it enough during the 15-minute wait for "Buy Now" that I did end up purchasing it. No regrets. This poster features a nice use of colour with lush greens, sky blue, and mustard yellow The richness of the island contrasts sharply with the artificiality of the Dharma Initiative's dwellings. I imagine the Island chuckling at the feeble attempts of the DI to analyze and understand their surroundings. There are also nice lighting effects on the clouds and along the mountainside, inducing a feeling that there are hidden mysteries yet to be revealed.

#9 The Swan Station by Rob Jones
Wow! This is a really bold print! I like the colours here, and dig the memories of life inside the hatch that this print conjures up. Despite the fact that I like the overall look, I can't shake the feeling that it may be a little too simple, a little too cookie-cutter Lost. But still I wouldn't mind have one of these hanging on my wall.

#10 Locke's Secret by Olly Moss
How I wish this poster wasn't green! This is a really cool concept, and I like the nod to Vertigo (and Pink Panther?), but I do not like this shade of green. Also, once the novelty of the concept wears off, the print doesn't have as much artistic detail as some of the others. Still I understand that this is one of the more popular posters, and for those who love it, more power to you!

#11 The Dharma Van by Methane Studios
It seems that everyone who has this print really loves it, and thinks that the website photos do not do it justice. I suspect it would rise a few notches if I were to see it in person. I certainly do like the intricate detail of the piece and actually was close to buying it at one point (back in the days when one had WEEKS to ponder purchases) but it didn't quite make the cut. There's just a bit too much black background, and the dimensionality seems a bit awkward.

#12 The Polar Bear by Jay Ryan
This one features a drunk and/or hung-over polar bear in tall grass, with some empty Dharma beer cans strewn about for good measure. This one doesn't do much for me, and I'm feeling a bit of polar bear saturation, so it ends up low on my list.

#13 The 4-Toed Statue by Jason Munn
Another cool idea, and another whose owners' insist is much better-looking in person. However, from where I'm sitting it looks like a nondescript shot of the bottom half of a guy in sandals holding an ankh. That's my story and I'm sticking to it (until I see it in person).

#14 Walt's Kidnapping by Drew Millward
I see this one as a noble but failed experiment. I do like the mood created by the colours and I like the faux-oilpainting approach. But despite my best efforts I can't get past the burning raft which looks to me like Friendly's boat, the incongruous hair and garb of young Walt, and the inexplicable appearance of Captain Highliner in a Lost poster. Not to mention the levitating palm. I enjoy surrealism as much as the next guy, but this one didn't do it for me. (Again, I know this one is in the top 3 for some folks, that's fantastic!)

#15 The Love Triangle by Leia Bell
I've seen a few pictures of this poster nicely framed on a wall, and they actually look pretty good. My main problem with the print is the generic nature of the silhouette. I can't get past the fact that it could just as easily be Telly Savalas as Jack Shepard. Also, I have the feeling that this style of artwork just doesn't suit Lost very well, although I can't verbalize why.

#16 The Numbers by Tim Doyle
To me this is a scary mess. That glows. I love Hurley and I love the whole mythos behind The Numbers, but this poster just creeps me out. In a bad way.

Thank you to everyone who made the Lost Underground Art Project happen. It was a blast!

Reminder that posters can still be viewed at (official site) as well as (site of uber-fan ReverendMilo).

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