Science Friction / Trouble Creature is a poetry collage appropriating images from bikini and art magazines to make a critical statement about U.S. gun control in the wake of recent school shootings. There are also allusions to foreign child exploitation, the global refugee crisis, and the commodification of women worldwide. The primary concern of this triptych is in exploring these modern First and Third World issues through the vintage pop culture lense of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Through this trio of collages, we see women’s bodies amalgamated with alien heads, skulls, lucha libre masks, and other oddities. The faces are never clear or original while we see their bodies commodified relentlessly, fought over, consumed, and digested by the characters around them. We never see their real faces or their true selves. We’re undeserving of their autonomous identities.
My poem is divided into three parts and uses the vehicle of a beloved cult classic film like Rocky Horror to cover a diverse scope of issues I’ve not previously been able to explore in my visual or written work. The language is playful and cutting, exposing sincere problems in a satirical, jovial light. This tone is borrowed from the original 1975 film, which showcased a light-hearted critique of heterosexuality and modern masculinity.
The driving metaphor is the image of the laser beams, serving as an abstraction of assault weapons. In this sense, the work satirizes there is “no hope / for laser beam control.” This message carries the weight of the poem while allowing room for the work to criticize other societal issues along the way. In this piece, laser beams and women’s bodies are presented as the perceived glorified objects, tokens or prizes of men.
I felt this collage medium provided a perfect home for the written content, as my poem and collage could appropriate separate visual or written forms to create a harmonious body of work. I expect readers will be both amused and horrified by the weird and mutilated images and words at play in this work. I hope they are.
By Sean West