I have been working within the field of computational imagery to depict landscapes, with the help of procedural algorithms for modeling natural phenomena in 3D (Brye 4.0) since 2000 when I created The View Where I’m Sitting (by the Window).
The View Where I’m Sitting (by the Window), 2000
In my work Real Snow, the depiction of a landscape and its translation into the digital realm was the goal. What interested me in that project was the creation of an atmospheric expression rather than an attempt at realism.
Production photo Real Snow, 1-channel video installation, 2017
Blending remembrance with the real
The realistic reconstruction of imagery was not paramount in this case (Real Snow), but rather the question of how much, or how little information had to go into the calculation of an image in order to see or even accept its depiction as a form of re-imagining. In the end, the spectator is irritated by its atmospheric expression and the archive of collected and fragmented pictures in his mind (while blending remembrances with the real) be evoked rather than annexed.
Until recently, clouds as atmospheric phenomena and natural objects
in sunlit flooded skies (Clouds of the Second Kind, 2016) were difficult to integrate into big budget movie scenes because the uncanny valley effect took its computational toll. This was not only the case with rendered human skin, where the problem was first discovered and described, but also with cloud shapes. The same physical law of realistic rendering (subsurface scattering) occurs when rendering milky surfaces and shapes of condensed water vapor.
All in all this is a computational and arithmetical problem for producers of blockbusters that is partly solved with the sheer super power of render farms and the sophisticated algorithms within all the programs of today.
In Real Snow (2017, one channel installation) the real and artificial finds its illustration in the recreation of a web cam stream of an alpine village in desperate need of snow. The image shows two snow slopes, one in the foreground and one in the back. These are overtaken by nature’s brute force – by a snow-storm that erases all the traces of artificial human intervention.
The scenery was built and designed in Terragen – a special 3D program for landscape building and computing. Through the capabilities of Terragen, it was possible to build a kind of “picture machine” that produces all the atmospheric and other effects in that to create the unbelievable-believable pictures of this normal, but special day for that village high up in the mountains. Just by changing parameters and settings, the entire weather catalogue of snowstorms and snatches of sunshine can unfold before our eyes. The spectator can see through the trickery while still being intrigued by the results of this computational image of a Landscape version 2017.