Ever wondered what it would be like if the white polka dots in Yayoi Kusama's Polka Dots came to life? Or if Ai Weiwei's Grapes started spinning and multiplying in a matrix-style effect? 3D visual artist Ziye Liu did and using his stills in computer graphics and visual effects, created just that in his film Themes & Variations for his MFA Thesis Project. Using a variety of programmes such as RenderMan RSL language with a technique called ‘Texture Bombing’, and Bullet Dynamic imported into Maya, Liu was able to model the works in 3D and manipulate them to an infinite range of posibilities. Otherwise static sculptures and objects are turned into dynamic works with the help of technology, lending them completely new perspectives and possibilities. We speak to Liu to find out more about his inspiration behind Themes & Variations and his thoughts on art and technology.
I have been interested in computer graphics since I was very young, at 13 years old I made my first 3D animated short film. For me, studying theater and film art is an important step to nourish myself in the world of stories, atmospheres, concepts and styles. It is vital for a visual artist to understand different aspects of aesthetics, whether they're cinematic, theatrical, architectural, musical, or conceptual. After these studies, I have a different perspective seeing computer graphics and 3D art, and it defined my style and aesthetic.
The initial idea came from my experience while visiting art museums, wandering in the architecture and pondering in front of artworks. These dots connected into lines, then eventually became the concept of Themes & Variations.
Yayoi Kusama's work has a unique characteristic that can reach into my emotion. Ai Weiwei's work is more of a mirror that it sees the outside world in a different perspective. Both artists has, or had at least once, been the center of a controversy. But I intended to avoid the comments and critiques on these two artists. Instead, just focusing on the artwork themselves.
Currently, I'm planning on my next artwork, and it's going to be something completely different from Themes & Variations.
Yes, I see myself as an artist.
For many years, art museum and exhibitions are my first destination when I visit new cities and places. Many great artist influence me: René Magritte, Marina Abramović, James Turrell, Yayoi Kusama, Tehching Hsieh... and Michel Gondry, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Ron Fricke, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Erik Satie, Tadao Ando, Kenya Hara... just to name a few, in a wide range of art disciplines.
It's a 3D short film, so after the concept and design process is finished, most of the development is about creating 3D visuals.
The basic process is as follows:
It's very similar to film making process, except everything happens in a virtual world.
I would say that computer generated art has its potentials, it introduces us to an unique world where technology and aesthetic work together in harmony. With real-time rendering, virtual reality and augmented reality technologies, these computer generated artwork can make into a whole new level, bringing an experience we have never imagined before.
Having said that, there's nothing wrong with paintings being flat or sculptures being inanimate.
Virtual reality artworks is beyond comparison in terms of immersion and interaction. The audiences are deeply engaged in the artwork, but the technology still has rooms to develop, such as display quality, real-time rendering speed, and the restriction of audience motion... etc. In the long term, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality will make art more accessible to the general public, it's very possible for Virtual Reality to become a new category of art in itself.
Currently, I work in the 3D / VFX industry. The rapid growth of computer hardware and software is pushing the limit of 3D art into new levels every day. Things that were impossible to achieve in a few years ago, can be easily done with a personal computer today. Also, audience expectation is higher than ever. It's always a challenge to keep up with the fast growing environment while keep a clear artistic direction.
Learn more about Liu's process and the technology behind "Themes & Variations", as well as his other projects here.
Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.
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