Is Kilian Eng a Time Traveler? A Look at Eng’s Work and His Spectacular New 2001: A Space Odyssey Print

By B Feldz

[caption id="attachment_3193" align="aligncenter" width="300"]ENG_2001 Kilian Eng 2001: A Space Odyssey Regular and GID Variant Set[/caption] The 2001: A Space Odyssey print from Swedish illustrator and graphic designer Kilian Eng is not only one of the best prints he has ever released, but generally one of the most fantastic prints I have seen in a long time. If you are wondering where you can buy one, the answer, sadly, is that you can’t.  Eng was commissioned by a small group of collectors to produce 30 prints (15 of each version) sold as a set consisting of a regular and GID variant. Eng responded to the large amount of fan interest on his facebook page by explaing, “a group of people commissioned the print for their own collections. No commercial interest involved.”  "No commercial interest involved," a wonderful phrase that produces wonderful work. [caption id="attachment_3194" align="aligncenter" width="200"]ENG_GID Glow In the Dark Image from the Variant[/caption]

What I love about Eng’s work is that it consistently plays with the familiar and unfamiliar, and Eng’s willingness to let his influences show greatly aids in producing this feeling of something familiar, but something new. While Moebius is his most recognizable influence, there are also whimsical evocations of Hayoa Miyazaki in Eng’s figures and landscapes, not to mention the grandfather of the comic-strip, Windsor McCay, being present in his vivid color palate and costumes.

[caption id="attachment_3201" align="aligncenter" width="206"]Moebius from 2008’s Chasseur Déprime Moebius from 2008’s Chasseur Déprime, with similar framing and line work as Eng’s 2001 design.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_3203" align="aligncenter" width="251"]Princess_Monoke Still from Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke 1997. A hooded Ashitaka rides the horned beast Yakul.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_3199" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Kilian Eng In The Shadows, Year unknown. A helmeted charater rides a horned beast. Kilian Eng In The Shadows, Year unknown. A helmeted charater rides a horned beast.[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_3202" align="alignleft" width="230"]nemo-frost Windsor McCay Little Nemo In Slumberland 1907
Dressed like jesters, characters Inhabit a fantastical environment. The Saturation of the colors faded due to the comic being over 100 years old.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_3200" align="alignright" width="214"]eng_robots Kilian Eng Robots! 2013
Robots evoking the jester in their antics and appearance while in a fantastical environment.[/caption]                         Eng’s work is more complicated than simple nostalgia or homage to past masters. Rather, it operates in the world of alternate histories and parafictions. Eng’s print for Jodorowsky’s Dune is created for a film that never was, yet the print evokes the image from the documentary chronicling the film's failed production.  The print, like the film, redeems Jodorowsky’s Dune from being lost to history. [caption id="attachment_3195" align="aligncenter" width="199"]Kilian Eng Dune 2012.   Poster for the film that never was. Kilian Eng Dune 2012.
Poster for the film that never was.[/caption] In the same vein, Eng’s poster for Argo imagines what the poster for the film within the film would look like. This example is particularly interesting because the image does not describe any of the portrayed events in the actual narrative of the film. [caption id="attachment_3198" align="aligncenter" width="200"]ENG_ARGO Kilian Eng Argo 2013.
Depicting the film with in the film, not the film itself.[/caption]

In Eng’s 2001 print there is a slight departure from the examples mentioned above.

The print focuses on one of the films most visually spectacular moments, when the main character travels through time and space. Not only is the 2001 print an homage to that great moment in film history, but also to great special effects artists Douglas Trumbull and John Whitney. The process Trumbull used was called slit scan -- created without the use of computers. To briefly explain, traditionally the entire frame was exposed at once; however, in slit scan, only a small slit of the film is exposed at a time. To find out more about the slit scan, I recommend watching this video by John Hess.

[caption id="attachment_3220" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Screenshots from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey 1968. Both examples of the slit screen special effect and the inspiration for Eng's print. Screenshots from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey 1968. Both examples of the slit screen special effect and the inspiration for Eng's print.[/caption] Eng’s 2001 plays with the viewers perception of time much like Kubrick’s film. 2001 is just as good today as it was when it was first released in 1968, and it's visual style and special effects still feel incredibly resonant despite being made over 45 years ago.   Similarly, Eng’s 2001 looks as if it could have been made in 1968 but still manages to look fresh and relevant by today's standards. It is as if Eng him has traveled through time and space--mastering the present with the influence of the past.

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