Michael Jackson was crazy.
For the follow-up of the years 1991 Dangerous, which ultimately sold over 32 million copies worldwide, Jackson needed some things to get rid of, and his old ways of making records weren’t going to be enough. There would be no songs about supposedly fictional baby moms, or about relief on the road or about maintaining strength.
Nope. Mad Michael was going to become sacrilegious, use racist slurs and tell his detractors to stop “f—— with him”. Like a Rolling stone critic wrote in 1995, Jackson was “angry, miserable, tortured, inflammatory, furious” while creating HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I – his ninth album.
Jackson, who died in 2009 and would have turned 58 on August 29, was at that time the world’s most popular artist. Its 1987 Bad tour grossed over $ 125 million and he sold the broadcasting rights to the Dangerous toured for a record $ 20 million on HBO in 1992. Jackson sounded untouchable – but the music on the album, even the hit song Scream, which he recorded with his sister Janet Jackson, expressed his rage: Kick me / I have to get up / As fucked up as it sounds / The whole system sucks.
He had the following: pedophilia charges which ended in a financial settlement with the alleged victim. There was an addiction to painkillers which led to an unexpected cancellation of her 1993 Dangerous world Tour. There was scrutiny, skepticism and sympathy regarding her ever-changing complexion and facial appearance. There was also his then recent marriage to Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of late musician Elvis Presley, which was widely viewed as a publicity stunt.
With HIStory: Past, present and future, Book I, the self-proclaimed King of Pop reinvented himself – and reinvented himself – as what he believed the world saw him as: a monument. And he needed a matching pouch.
She asked Jackson not to wear makeup for the photos, but he did.
In 1994, a year before the release of The story, special effects artist Diana walczak answered a phone in the kitchen of her home in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Family friend David Coleman, Sony Music’s longtime art director and executive officer, was on the line.
Coleman was inquiring about an upcoming album that needed art. From the book by author Randall Sullivan in 2012 Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson, when Sony asked Jackson for promotional ideas for his upcoming The story tour, among other things, he suggested that Sony “build a statue of me”. Jackson wanted a 300-foot white marble statue that resembled Russia’s “Calls of the Fatherland” as part of the Heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad Memorial Complex.
“Michael… was really picky, which made perfect sense to me,” Walczak said jokingly. The MJCast podcast in March. “And if they hired an artist to do something, they had the experience of having to hire the artist again and again, because Michael was not satisfied.” To circumvent that possibility in advance, Sony opted for a digital statue of the Grammy winner at the time, which mirrored his stoic opening pose of the 1992s. Dangerous world Tour. This is in case Jackson “was not satisfied” halfway through the process.
You have probably come across Walczak’s work at least once in your life. Sylvester Stallone’s 1995 science fiction thriller Judge Dredd? Walczak created the visual dub for the old Rocky. The The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man thrills at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure? It is also that of Walczak. She also created visual art for the years 1994 Star gate and Clear and present danger, the years 1992 Honey I blew the kid up and the first three films of the X Men franchise. And even if you missed all of those attractions, this Columbia Pictures logo with the woman draped in a toga and brandishing a torch? Yes, Walczak, a pioneer in the entire field of computer generated imagery (CGI), also helped create this visual.
In order to replicate the King of Pop, Walczak met Jackson in person to take his own reference photos. She wanted to “capture his face and also … his soul in his face”. She used four large-format cameras to simultaneously capture all angles of Jackson’s body and a handheld camera to get close-ups of his hands and face. “I have to touch it,” she said. “And move it.” She asked Jackson not to wear makeup for the photos, but he did.
Starting with the frame – the skeletal base of the sculpture which acts like the femur, holding the clay in place – Walczak and his two assistants began the molding process. Using over 300 pounds of wet clay, she sculpted day and night for a week straight. “Maybe,” Walczak said. “I went out to eat. She was then seven months pregnant.
Once the detailed details were completed, she sent photos and videos of the original 48-inch sculpture to Sony and Jackson, who provided her own notes. He was particularly critical of his face – he knew what a nasolabial fold was. He was also critical of his body – “Thighs too big” was a note he left on one of the photos. After a week of modifications, Sony gave the go-ahead for Walczak to start the molding process, which turns the water-based clay into the base of a plaster-like silicone mold that becomes the permanent material. This mold is what you see on the The story blanket.
Then, using a grid and a permanent marker, Walczak added over 10,000 polygons to the hardened cast for the digitization process, which took place in Los Angeles. The background, lights, and other CGI material seen on the album cover were then added after scanning. The original image Walczak created, which she introduced in September 1994, included a statue base with small human figurines to further accentuate the sculpture, but Sony decided to crop most of the image, leaving the familiar photo of the top of the Jackson’s body.
Almost a year after Coleman first contacted Walczak, another Sony employee, Artistic Director Nancy Donald, called to let Walczak know her design would be used on Jackson’s next album. “This is there,” she said, “this is where I probably almost passed out.”
These days, Walczak still runs Synthespian Studios, a computer graphics and visual effects company, with her husband. Jeff Kleiser. She also recently launched a website, which she uses to fund a large replica of the original. The story statue possibly located in Jackson’s hometown of Gary, Indiana.
What about the location of the original sculpture? The clay version deteriorated due to drying out over time. The white plaster version was cut into various pieces for the scanning process, and somewhere along the way the bottom half was lost. Walczak therefore only has the white marble bust, with the lines she drew on it in 1994.
“It’s well protected.