Saturday, March 15, 2014

Why Hieronymus Bother?

by Drew Martin
In chapter 16 (season 2, episode 3) of Netflix's Macbethian House of Cards a reporter, Lucas Goodwin, continues to investigate the death of his colleague-girlfriend, who was pushed in front of a speeding metro by the vice president of the United States. He gets involved with a hacker known as Hieronymus Bot who, before their face-to-face encounters, interacts with Goodwin through a computer-generated character on an iPad that a bike messenger delivers to Goodwin while he is waiting at a booth in Waffle Nation. When Goodwin turns on the iPad, Bot's live voice is animated by strange blue birdman with a big, bulbous copper kettle on its head. For a viewer who does not know the reference, this must be a bizarre sight but the creature is lifted straight out of the Hell panel of Hieronymus Bosch's triptych Garden of Earthly Delights, which he painted around 1500. In the original, the birdman is devouring a naked man, while sparrows fly out of the victim's buttocks. There are few art references in House of Cards so the nod to Bosch seems a little out of place.