Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Monolith I and II

Monolith II

The Monolith series is very loosely inspired by the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

If you have seen my other Fine Art Nude work, you know that they are often rooted in some aspect of the human condition. The monolith series is more about form, that is, shape, and light.

I put Monolith II at the top of this blog post, mostly because it is social media safe. (Yes, I occasionally chicken out. Depends more on my current mood, than the pictures.) Reduces the risk of getting banned on Facebook.

Monolith I
Monolith I is more about the light than anything else. I wanted to see what happened when I put a very large light source directly behind the model. If that had been the only light source, you would see little more than a silhouette.

I added another light source in front of the model, angled 45 degrees, and high enoug to illuminate the entire monolith. Because of the distance between the light and the model, the model is evenly lit from head to toe.
I did add a bit of shadow in the genital area for modesty's sake. Not the model's modesty (she is a 3D model), or yours, but mine. I am still a bit shy about doing nude art.

Here are links to some of my earlier Fine Art Nude pictures:

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Social Media Bubbles

If you think you do not live inside the Matrix, it is because you are asleep inside your bubble.

We all live inside information bubbles shaped by the algorithms that choose what information to give us on social media.

Facebook, Youtube, Google, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Linkedin...They all use algorithms designed to provide us information we like, and filter out whatever we do not like.

The information we get, shape our perception of the world. Due to the design of the algorithms, the information keeps narrowing down.

The more it narrows down, the more difficult it becomes to understand other viewpoints than our own. Our points of view are whatever the masters of the algorithms design them to be.

If you think you do not live in the Matrix, it is because you are asleep in your bubble.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

The Disciples and the Light

I was thinking about how we tend to follow leaders blindly, a lot likes moth drawn to a flame that burns them. Happens in politics, in wars, and in our daily lives, at work, and at home.

This series of pictures is supposed to be relatively tranquil though. The drama is in the light, not in the action. Doing it this way is an important exercise for me, because I usually tend towards making dramatic, action filled pictures. I want these ones to be different. I want to use them to develop a different part of me.

I use a lot of digital composition, so when taking photographs, I often light with that in mind. In this series, I simplify: naked bodies, a naked environment, and very simple light setups.

Last night I wrote down a list of ideas for this series. We'll see how many of them will get done. There are some other projects I am also working on...

Friday, 26 January 2018

Perpendicular I

Have you ever had the feeling that you live on a plane perpendicular to everyone else, even the ones you love?

You can touch, but no matter what you do, you can never share.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Triangles IV: Shape and Story

Triangle IV is a variation on the picture I published a couple of days ago. I have added one element, the man walking towards the woman. I also changed from portrait to horizontal format, I changed the lighten a little bit, and I lowered the viewing angle.

The previous picture was all about form, the triangular composition, the symmetries, and curves. Note how adding the man walking towards the woman changes the picture completely. Now, there is a story there:

The man is walking, so obviously something is happening, but there is more. Why is he walking towards her? Why is he so small? Or, is he normal sized, and she is gigantic? We can't tell. All we can say is that their relative sizes are very different in relation to each other. Without a reference outside the system, we know nothing about the size of either of them.

That's Einstein and relativity, right there.

Actually, there is a reference point outside the system: You, the viewer. When you saw the picture, did you think she was normal sized, or that he was? Or, did you conclude that without a fixed reference point, you can't conclude anything about their sizes in absolute terms?

So, in a way, while the picture itself just is a starting point for your imagination, your reactions to it, and the assumptions you make, can tell you a lot about you.

Because of that, while I have serious doubts about me being anything resembling an artist, I suspect that this picture, may actually be art. It is not because of what it tells you, it is because of the questions it makes you ask.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Triangles and Thelephobia

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
― Cesar A. Cruz 

How many triangles do you see?

I am fascinated by triangle composition. Fantasy artists like Frank Frazetta often used triangle composition to create striking images for book covers. In photography, it is much less common. In 3d art, I may have seen it once or twice, but no more.

Personally, I am striving to use triangle composition more, because I like the way the eye is drawn to the image. I am still not quite used to it though, so it takes some thought to design pictures that work.

The picture above is a 3D render done with Daz 3D Studio. For this one, I used a Genesis 8 Female 3D model, with some slight modifications.

I built a virtual studio consisting of nothing more than two planes, and added a single light.

The light is a bit interesting. I used a 2x2 m plane, added a light emitting shader, and placed it 3m above the floor the model is sitting on. It was my first try with this kind of lighting, and I am very pleased with it. With a bit of practice, this may well become my preferred method to create studio lighting, and indoor lighting.

It is interesting that you can create professional level studio lighting, with a perfect model, at zero cost.

Perhaps the most interesting thing in the picture above is what you do not see: Nipples.

I cloned them out because of the thelephobic social media rules. (Thelephobia = Fear of nipples.)

If you are thelephobic, please don't look below this line of text, because the uncensored version of this picture is coming up.


Here they are. Why anyone would find them offensive, I do not understand. Especially considering that male nipples are considered okay to show.

There is a big nipple-related problem though: Social media services, for fear of offending anyone, and thus lose customers, are imposing very strict rules against nudity, and other controversial topics. (Though violence is considered less dangerous, for some unfathomable reason.)

At the same times, they use algorithms designed to feed us more of what we were interested in the last few times we looked at something.

The result is that we get locked into very narrowly defined information bubbles. We are fed only what the algorithms decide we should be fed. We lose diversity, we lose other people's viewpoints.

This inevitably leads to evermore rigid thought control. We are trapped inside rapidly shrinking bubbles. At the end of the process is...nothing. No original thought. No room to be different.

Without variation, no progress is possible.
― Frank Zappa

What follows, eventually, is collapse. The world changes, but we won't, and then we go extinct. Even if our bodies continue to move for awhile, there will be no one there to have an interesting conversation with.

Thelephobia is not the cause, but it is a symptom.

Note about the art quote: The "art should comfort the disturbed..." quote is a variation on a quote by Finley Peter Dunne, and was originally about newspapers. The version about art has been attributed to a number of people, including Banksy. However, as far as I know, Cesar A. Cruz came up with it.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The Dark Pyramid (a.k.a. Pyramid of Evil)

 I got the idea for Pyramid of Evil from a fake news story about a tweet made by Buzz Aldrin. According to the story, Aldrin was on an expedition in Antarctica, when he tweeted:
We are all in danger. It is evil itself.
The tweet included a picture of a massive pyramid in a snow covered landscape. According to the story, Aldrin deleted the tweet after a few hours.

The story was fake. Aldrin made no such tweet. The original picture was of Pyramid Peak, an oddly shaped, but otherwise normal mountain. (Thanks to Petri Olderhvit, for sending me the Pyramid Peak link.)

Making a picture like this is fairly easy. I used Bryce, a landscape generator, to create the landscape. I took care to use several terrain objects at varying distances from the camera, in order to give the picture a bit of depth. I did not add any mist, because the environment is a bit cold for that.

I added two people to the landscape for a couple of reasons. One was to indicate scale. Another was to give viewers someone in the picture to empathize with, to feel a sense of wonder, slightly tinged with fear of the unknown.

There is nothing overtly scary in the picture of course. I did not want it to be. The fear and horror comes later, when the people are trapped inside the pyramid with...something. Perhaps one of the beings that built the pyramid, perhaps something else. Something that killed them, and has been laying dormant in the frozen waste since then.

Aaah, back to technique: I didn't have cold weather clothing for the characters, but because they are seen from a great distance, all I needed was bulky clothing, or, as I just happened to have...a spacesuit. If you enlarge the image, you may be able to see that the characters are wearing spacesuits.

I composited the pictures in Affinity Photo. I wasn't happy with the texture I used for the pyramid - there was no snow, so I painted the snow on. I used a paint brush to give the snow a little bit of structure, and sampled the color from the snow on the ground.

One noteworthy point: I painted the snow on a separate snow layer, and I used Affinity Photo's Blend Range function to ensure that the snow would stick only to the brighter parts of the pyramid. This made it look as if snow and frost had stuck to some parts, and been blown away by the wind in other parts.

The snow looked a bit dark, so I flipped the blend mode to Screen.

More Dark Pyramid pictures? I don't know. For now, it's just this one. I have another project I am working on with a few friends, and I want to focus on that.