I thought I’d do a little primer of CGI art (a genre that doesn’t really exist but should) by way of a few introductions. Below is a list of artists who work with CGI because they like how CGI looks. They don’t strive to make their effects invisible - they like it when you can tell it’s CG. They like showing the seams. Just like painters who love how paint physically behaves, CGI artists like the qualities of CGI. Which is especially interesting as CGI likes to disappear.
CGI is like a big wonderful magic trick and the artists below are reverse magicians, exposing the secret compartments of digital effects, shuffling drawers and finding curiosities. They are not trying to make computer animation look photoreal. They like the material properties of this weird non-material medium. They like gloss, and blur and glow and perfection and they like artefacts, weird digital effects and that thing that pixels do. They like interesting, which is perhaps the one common quality of all good art. Visual effects aren’t usually interesting, apart from as part of a making-of featurette.
The artists here are human-machine collaborators, making ambitious work alone or in small teams for not much money, pushing their computers as far as they can go. They play with all the components of visual effects, all the ideas to do with realism, surrealism and hyperrealism. They like to find a certain friction in this world where nothing really connects. They play with perfection, narrative, spectacle, imagination and dreams. Their work can be challenging to watch because it doesn’t offer us saccharine eye candy and neat resolutions like a Disney fairytale. And we don’t just want fairytales from CG, do we? It’s the most diverse and powerful artform that ever was, isn’t it? So why don’t we see more CG art?
Well, commerce is reality and reality is commerce. We want to sell and consume CGI because it sells us dreams that are incredibly realistic. These summer blockbusters are narcotic substances. We watch the world splinter and explode every summer. And we love it.
To make these fantastical apocalypses (apocali?), computer code is written by people even cleverer that the vfx crew. They write new rendering, shading and simulation engines that make every new release groundbreaking. It’s a hothouse of code evolution and not everyone realises that this process will go down in history as one of the driving forces behing the whole evolution of computing. It’s a huge deal. So it’s cool that we have people spinning their own tales with these algorithms, plugins, and rendering engines. Take a look and make something equally unique. The world wants your dreams.
Take a look at Yi Zhou’s Venice Biennalle film ‘The Greatness’
Seriously, do it. Watch it all.
Then have a look at Chris Landreth’s stuff.
And Kelly Richardson
Now go and see my show at the Photographer’s Gallery. ;-)