herman is not dead.com

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     If ever there was a project that haunted me for how long it sat there without completion, it was definitely this one. It's also a project that when people hear about it, they think I'm some kind of psychopath hiding it away in my basement for some ulterior motive.
     In any case, it's a giant cigarette box. You ever see those shows from the old days where they would do live performances on stage and have commercial breaks and these girls would come out advertising cigarettes and all you could see was there legs ? Yeah, I thought you've seen it. A box you can physically climb into and have nothing but your legs sticking out, and you can walk around in this thing for whatever purpose that may be.
     I can't recall exactly what compelled me to do this, what sparked the idea. "Yeah, I just got to make one of those for myself !". I think an original idea was that I was going to use it for short films and home video, practical jokes and such. I was going to try to win the $10,000 on "America's Funniest Videos". I think I was even considering walking around a major highway and getting videotape of me getting arrested for causing a disturbance. It would definitely have been worth

Like I said, I started this many, many years ago, perhaps during 1990 or '91. Worked on it for the course of maybe the summer or at least a year, while I was still enthusiastic about it, then it was abandoned. Four years later, after a break up, I found myself with nothing to do, but a yearning to finish the cigarette box that had haunted me for years in my basement.
How do you do it ? You start out with some stretcher bars, (yeah, the kind you use for stretching canvas), plenty of staples, corner brackets from a hardware store and hey, guess what, you got yourself a frame.

      Next up, or actually first up, you got to do a lot of tracing. I'll admit I had a general idea in mind for the size so that I'd be able to fit into the box comfortably, but you also want to maintain some proportion so the whole thing doesn't look out of wack.

      Believe me, there is plenty of stuff to trace on this thing. Lettering, logo, bar code, surgeon general's warning, all that good stuff. And then you got to work with photocopiers and lucographs to enlarge all the stuff you worked on. Oh boy, what fun! You can only imagine why I decided to do this, or at least why I put it off for a few years.
      And I don't know if you've ever taken a look at a cigarette box, I mean, really looked at it. There's a lot of stuff going on there. Plenty of detail, and I guess being anal retentive and an eye for detail, you just can't let stuff like that get by or it's just not complete. You think the logo was a pain in the ass, you can't imagine how painstaking the bar code was to develop.

      Go ahead, take a look at the beauty of the design and the layout of this carton. The eyecatching color, the beautiful shapes, the crispness and boldness of the lettering, doesn't it make you want to smoke ?

      How do you get started ? Well, like I said, plenty of tracing and laying out. After you had your basic frame built with the stretchers and the chipboard, start cutting out matboard to the size you want and while you're at it, start cutting out all that lettering.

      Grab yourself a real nice sharp x-acto knife and cut, and then cut more, and then when you think you're finished, cut some more. Like I said, there's a lot of detail and you really need a steady hand at some of this stuff. The white part for the filter cigarettes and the lettering for "Marlboro" were both done with coverstock paper.

      In order to be able to hold the weight of this from the inside, I included a pair of suspenders so you're holding it up with your shoulders rather than your head. Believe me, I was considering including a hardhat inside. The suspenders are wrapped around the stretchers and attached using very large keyrings. That way, if the suspender were to rip or break loose in any way, you wouldn't have the clip snapping in your face. It wound up being pretty secure.

      Take a look at this. A real steady hand. Look at that logo, can you imagine what a pain in the ass that was to do?! Why did I go through with it? Because I must suffer for my art.

      Now, it's pretty funny when you look at the actual size of the pack of cigarettes compared to the huge size of this box. Yeah, it is nuts, isn't it? But just look at the nice job I did at cutting out the barcode all in proportion and exact. Doesn't that freak you out? I mean, what's wrong with me ?!!

      You can pretty much see it here kind of unfinished on the table and finished, me putting it on the table. Yeah, it's even got plastic on it to resemble the cellophane. Sick, right?

      Here I figured I'd put it on, just so you can kind of get an idea of what it might be like with it on. Not to worry, there's a visor cut out so the person inside can see. It's supposed to be covered up with a mesh ofsome sort similar to red pantyhose so that it matches the red from the box. Sure, getting around in this thing might be...kind of uncomfortable, so I wouldn't recommend wearing it for a Halloween party. Believe it or not, I even went as far as making a "documentary" video for the making of this thing. Just about as exciting as this whole project was.

In any case, that's pretty much it for "the box". It's still in the basement, and still has not been used for anything. It wasn't made as an anti-smoking statement, pro-smoking statement or anything like that. I guess it was just to take an idea to an extreme and if anything use it for video projects or in public just to see people's reactions (probably even to get arrested or sued). Anyone want to buy it ?

Not necessarily a "huge" update, but photos of "the box" outside the house for the first time... !

click on the the star-pack for the latest shots... !


© 2002 g.hernandez