There’s a feature in Maya that lets you reduce the amount of polygons in a mesh. Maya triangulates your mesh, removes some faces and averages what’s left. It’s a cool button to click - you can keyframe it and animate a complex object - a human form, for example - devolving into angles and planes. I’ve got a few renders kicking around of the process, but wasn’t until today that I came across the Lo Res Project which involves architect Rem Koolhaas. This post over at Dezeen pretty much sums the project up - great visuals of the reductive Lambourgini. The comments at Dezeen also led me to Xavier Veilhan’s site. He makes public sculptures that have the reduced poly feel about them. Delving deeper into his site reveals that the sculptures do indeed begin life in a 3D program.
Much like depth mattes this convention is unique to 3D modelling programs. It’s a paradigm introduced to the collective visual lexicon via 3D, though it leans a lot on futurist aesthetics: I’m thinking especially of the famous works of Umberto Boccioni.