Snake and the Cave

Like tears in the rain, that’s how all of my inner worlds would gone had I died in the car accident earlier this year. It’s made me think more about the importance of ideas, of stories, and dreams. I think I kept them private my whole life believing they were shameful or “cringe”, but self-insert fanfiction never hurt Dante Alighieri. I want to explore and share my fantasy worlds, whether they breach copyright or not. Ideas are bigger than that, and Kojima made powerful characters that have the ability to influence an untold number of people, to guide us out of darkness.

The Dream:

The entrance collapsed from the impact of the rocket, leaving Snake and I in total darkness and choking on the dust. Turning our torches on we realised we had maybe a hundred metres of ground in front of us before the rest of the cave descended into water. Realising there was no other means of escape, Snake didn’t hesitate to enter the lake in search of any tunnels hidden beneath the surface. I sat alone on the bank, waiting for what felt like too long for someone to remain alive on one breath. Defying my anxieties, Snake resurfaced and informed me that there was a passageway leading outside. In the darkness I could see that where he was pointing it was ever so slightly brighter than the rest of the cave.

Entering the water, I had the air knocked out of my lungs, it was cold, colder than anything I had ever experienced, the pain subsiding only slightly, not due to adaptation, but numbness. Snake had shown none of the same discomfort, this either came from his own resolve or his sneaking suit offered greater insulation than my fatigues. 

He talked me through what I needed to do and how best to prepare for this passage. I wasn’t confident but I didn’t let it show. Snake went ahead of me and I was left following only the light of his torch, otherwise there was very little visibility as the silt had been disturbed by our presence. The tunnel wasn’t so narrow as to impede our movements, but enough to feel claustrophobic. I had made it only halfway through when I started to panic, my lungs began to burn, and however long it was going to take to reach the other side felt like an impossible distance at that moment, and Snake seemed to be moving too fast for me to keep up. Frantic, I struggled to turn myself around and resurface back where we had come from. 

Succeeding and able to breathe again, my lungs brought in air voraciously, excessively, I couldn’t stop, my mind ran through unlikely scenarios. What if there was something lurking in the dark waters beneath me? What if there was a finite amount of oxygen in here? What if there was no escape on the other side? I wanted desperately to get back onto dry land but I was too terrified to move, to do anything but tread water. It would be another minute before Snake realised I hadn’t followed him and returned to me. Had this been the real Big Boss, he might have just dragged me through the tunnel kicking and screaming, but Venom Snake took his time to calm me down. ‘There’s nothing through there you can’t handle. But we’ve got to hurry, your lips are turning blue.’

Having no choice, I dove down again, this time Snake was following behind, ensuring that I had no way out but forward. I tried grabbing onto the edges of the tunnel to propel myself faster, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to grab onto anything. My vision was vignetting just as I reached the surface on the other side. It was now I realised we were no closer to freedom than before, although the light of the moon shone down upon us, we were at the bottom of a natural well, almost sheer walls all the way around us. Snake sat me on the small ledge and I watched as he free climbed his way up the wall with ease, possessing a strength I will never know. Fastening a rope somewhere above, he then lowered himself down the steep edge again to help me to freedom as I heard the sound of Pequod approaching. 

Kazuhira Miller Cosplay

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Costume by me

Photography by Sreeraj Sreenivisan

Edits by me

Location: Fremantle Harbour and Maritime Museum

Nearly four months ago I was nearly killed in a hit-and-run, I have no memory of the incident, nor the week that followed. Since then I’ve had to deal with injuries I don’t remember acquiring, it doesn’t feel real. I have two skull fractures, I am deaf in my left ear (hopefully temporarily), I was in a neck brace because of my fractured vertebrae, but the most debilitating part was my broken right leg with severe lacerations along the tendons. I was robbed of my ability to walk for months. Thankfully I wasn’t in a wheelchair for too long, but whether or not I’ll ever be able to walk properly without needing the crutch is unknown at this point.

While I recovered from the worst of my injuries, I stayed with my family, I didn’t have much else to do but play whatever games I had downloaded on my laptop, and that just so happened to be the Phantom Pain. What I got was an intense exploration of pain, loss and grief, I was shown characters who seemed to understand what I was going through and gave voice to these new feelings I couldn’t articulate. The opening of the game alone was some kind of nightmarish re-enactment of my hospital confinement. But it was Kazuhira that became a kind of spirit guide for me, because of him I feel no shame in my current physical limitations, if I need this crutch forever, so be it, no matter what I’ve lost, a Diamond Dog gets up and keeps on fighting.

I still haven’t been able to return to work, my circadian rhythm is completely unpredictable, so while I continue to recover, and when I’m not sleeping, or playing Metal Gear, I find myself inspired to make costumes again. This costume was entirely sourced in op shops, the only sewing I did was attaching the Diamond Dogs patch to the beret, and tailoring the trousers. I’m not so much interested in making everything from scratch and being 100% accurate to the source material. It’s more fun for me to source pieces, the thrill of the hunt, finding garments that evoke the character, and I just so happened to get lucky. I wasn’t going to make this a girly rule 63, that would be tacky, I wasn’t going to make this crossplay and try to pass myself off as male, that would be inauthentic. I just adapted Kaz’s costume for myself, with all the practicality and dignity his costume entails.

Another stroke of luck was the shoot, it had rained mere hours before we shot, but it was mostly clear skies when we needed it. It was cold, perfect for all the layers I had to wear, and just the right amount of wind to get us a few dramatic flowing trenchcoat shots. There also happened to be a real naval ship in the harbour too, although we couldn’t get too close.

It felt good to return to modelling, and I hope I can bring you more Metal Gear shoots soon.

Black Devil Car

“Cindy ran after her sister, Allison, who despite wearing her wedding dress moved with great speed and wielded the wrought iron candle holder with every intention of using it.

‘I am so sick of you two arguing about this bloody car!’ Allison cried as she smashed the right headlight of the Monaro, causing Cindy to let out a blood curdling scream.

‘Oh come off it, Cin, it’s just – oh my god!’

Where Allison had smashed the light, blood now came pouring out. Turning to her little sister, she saw that Cindy’s right eye was gone, in its place leaked motor oil.”

This is a scene from Black Devil Car, a 1970’s style Ozsploitation movie I’d love to make one day. But for now I’ll settle for drawing it and writing it. It was inspired by a dream I had.

Covenant Minute 35

In which Greg Klein of the Airwolf Years and I discuss nostalgia, aesthetics and robot voices.

Read more: Covenant Minute 35

Find Greg here:

https://ciampaklein.com/

Citations
Activist Post. (2015, October 26). Why is wheat such a problem in the modern diet? https://www.activistpost.com/2015/10/why-is-wheat-such-a-problem-in-the-modern-diet.html

Einkorn, nature’s first and oldest wheat » Einkorn.com. (2020, April 15). Einkorn.com | Restoring Ancient Whole Grain Einkorn Wheat to Our Modern Diets. https://www.einkorn.com/einkorn-history/

Cosplay Couture Sherlock Holmes

A cosplay couture interpretation of Sherlock Holmes

Costume (skirt, jacket, hat and capelet) and styling by Courtney Coulson

Photography by Luke Milton

Shot at UWA


A tribute to one of my all time favourite characters, I made this costume over a year ago out of scraps from a WAAPA production, only got around to finishing it recently. It’s not perfect because I had learned so much in the mean time, but hopefully it’s not noticable in these photos.

It’s actually based on real hunting attire from the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, I think many of these pieces could still be work in a modern context and this was an exploration into that idea of reinventing a classic Victorian character with a very costumey look into something more fashionable.

The most challenging part was the pleating in the caplet, it was a last minute idea to make it more interesting. It ended up involving seven metres of pleating! Took me forever, but I’m happy with how it turned out.

As I was portraying the classic Holmes I really focused on the mannerisms described in the book. He’s highly intelligent, but he also lives for the cases and he has fun solving them, so I tried to convey that intense mind through mostly my eyes but the overall sense is less brooding than the BBC Sherlock.

-Courtney Coulson
Shot with no other equipment than the camera, this shoot quickly became about finding and managing light. I loved the railing but it was too dark to shoot with Courtney standing behind it so her sitting on it was the only way to access the light and it resulted in my favourite shot of the shoot. I also like the idea of her tiny form leaning rebelliously in the shadow of a giant Socrates. The light was harsh here, but it’s always fun to take something very contrasty and turn it to black and white. I think black and white works very well at giving a more classic look to the other shots, like they are from some old, forgotten serial or something. I also dig how it brings up the textures on the cloak.

-Luke Milton

Cosplay Couture 11th Doctor

From the archives, October 2013:

A cosplay couture interpretation of the 11th Doctor                

Costume (shorts) and styling by Courtney Coulson

Photography by Luke Milton with Sabatomic Photography     

Shot somewhere along Indian Ocean Drive


To me 11’s love for Westerns was something I related to the most and also something that was unique to that regeneration. I think 11 is easily the most schoolboyish, his open enthusiasm paired with his awkward body language definitely makes him “adorkable”. It was fun translating that into this shoot, throwing my posture all about the place! The costume plays up on that boyish theme with the high waisted shorts, the skull bowtie and oversized Stetson. My hair is pretty close to Matt Smith’s so no real challenge there. Like Benedict Cumberbatch, Matt Smith has a great character face, so I had a lot of inspiration when it came to the make-up. There’s very little on the eyes but a bright red lipstick to draw the focus to the lower half of my face as Matt is all chin but he has hardly any eyebrows or eyelashes.

-Courtney Coulson
Initially this wasn’t my ideal location and I had planned to steer clear of the red dirt and the road, cautious that it might feel too Australian. However, seeing Courtney in context led me to shift plans and incorporate all of it, and I’m really glad we did. I feel like the road lends the image more purpose and helps create a sense of vastness while still keeping our focus firmly on the character and the clothes.


– Luke Milton