Detail from Venus in the Garden Frame 73
One of the most difficult things for me as an artist was to think of nature as symbols and numbers. Nature becomes a list of points, as polygons and the visual representations of external surfaces as procedures and algorithms. That a list of points representing a figure is inside of something called a bounding box of space. Each object has its own bounding box, set of light sources, colors, even behaviors living inside of that space. The abstraction continued as I learned more of the mathematics of b-splines for curves and spaces defined by conformal mapping. Now my lines in three dimensional spaces are made with bi-cubic patches. The journey into the underworld of science went deeper and became even more complex.
What took time for me to grasp is how the logic of computer languages and mathematics are procedures which become tools. That tools gave me the control to create my vision of reality.
I think the challenge in computer graphics has always been to use mathematics to describe or represent the external reality of nature. Instead of drawing or painting my object, I use data generation software. For me code functions like a translation between two realities. One is derived from mathematical analysis represented as tools which makes it possible to reach the external world which we see or imagine.
I was doing oil paintings with some odd idea about visual structure and expressionism before I became involved with computers. As I create my animation the forms and how they change moving through space is important to me. I am more comfortable with non-narrative animation. I can’t tell a story or a one line joke. Abstraction is easier for me as it’s easier to bring focus to visual structure. My feelings for expressionism has drifted off into a domain concerned about the aura of beauty.
The movement is important but secondary to the feelings of form and space. Animation has become a balancing act between form and movement. I’ve always liked the idea of motion painting invented by Oskar Fischinger over 80 years ago. But unlike Fischinger I’m fortunate to have access to tools which allow me to play in three dimensional space using lights and three dimensional forms. I’m also lucky to be living in a time where animation can become an art form woven into the fabric of our culture. Things like YouTube and iTunes are full of opportunities. There is an exciting new world far beyond Pixar, Dreamworks and Blue Sky.
One of the things I have disliked about 3d computer imagery is that it still looks like it was created with a computer. The procedural processes used to create texture and surface properties still have a mechanical feel to them.
Over twenty years ago I used my drawings and paintings as texture maps. While I liked the combination of two and three dimensions, I was still uncomfortable with my brush and drawing marks looking flat in space.
experiment: digital brush marks
The above image represents a shift in thinking about my brush marks. While they are my brush marks scanned into the computer, their reality becomes a part of the curvature of space. The image appears less mechanical than other works I have done. I’m more effectively able to exploit my background as a painter. What is also taking place is a play of light and transparency where space clings to the object.