Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mechanoid Biology and Almacan

Posted by Alpha Auer

Japanese artist Kazuhiko Nakamura, aka. Almacan, displays his extraordinary paintings created with Photoshop and the 3D software "Shade" at the Mechanical Mirage Art Gallery. It may be that what Almacan presents us with strangely coincides with my current obsession with the biological in artwork, but I am utterly bowled over with Almacan...


Writing on his painting "Metamorphosis", Almacan says that he became engrossed in the 3D rendering of the worlds depicted in 16th century’s painter Archimboldo’s pictures. "His pictures were expressed with illusionism, a technique in which human faces are drawn by the combination of various objects. I began to want to create on a new illusionism by adopting a motif he had not used, by seeking an original image. I envisaged the scenes from the novel “The Metamorphosis“ by Kafka, which I’d read when I was 16 years old. Even now I have a distinct memory of its absurd story in which a human creature is transformed into an insect.I thought that this story’s theme would match Archimboldo’s painting style. This work is a fusion of the two worlds produced by Archimboldo and Kafka, and homage to them.

First I looked for insects in photo books and the Internet, with the intention of forming a human face from them. I became confused by the astonishing configurations of insects and the diverseness of their textures, and was not able to summarize my image successfully. However, the theme of this work is not realism, but illusionism. I changed my way of thinking and consequently chose to design an original insect based on human face parts. Next, I mixed this imaginary insect with a real one, with the purpose of adding vagueness to the border between reality and fantasy."

Almacan seems to confine his interest in biology/entomology to this one painting, "Metamorphosis" alone; saying that his primary interests are surrealism, cyberpunk, 19th century machine designs and armor. However, I see his obsession related to biology in almost all of the work presented on his website. A minute examination of biological form is translated into a hybrid visual language utilized in the creation of some truly bizarre mechanoid/biological systems which transform themselves into a human representation, a portrait.

Shell in the Darkness


In his 1996 book Abstracting Craft, Malcolm McCullough discusses the emergence of a new kind of craft centered within the computer environment, thanks to which "after two centuries of separation the conception and execution of (everyday) objects are once again in the same hands". I am an artist/designer working solely in the digital realm but who received her formal training during the pre-computer era. So, I have inevitably given much thought to digital craft and how it differentiates itself from its analog counterpart. Computer generated imagery, the computer image work for me has many correlations with subconscious processes, with collage and assemblage in the sense that the early surrealists used them. In fact, now that I am thinking about it I even wrote a paper which I subsequently turned into an illustrated flip book: While many who regard the computer as yet another "tool", will definitely not agree with me on this, I assert that the computer as an environment has fundamentally affected how we conceptualize as well as implement creative output. It is the utter freedom of the unlimited choices and sub-choices, the unlimited undo's, the unlimited combinations and iterations from the initial piece, all achieved within hours, if not indeed minutes, which for me bring about a profusion of ideas and combinations of ideas which is simply do not recall having had in the bad old days of pen and paper.

And Almacan's amazing paintings are making me consider this all over again...

Yes, of course the likes of Archimboldo created bewilderingly complex portraits, and Vanitas paintings. But, is there not something else going on here regardless of these precedents? A freedom of combination not to so easily to be found in the analog realm? A freedom from the very fear of error? Culminating in the visualization of the strangest fantasies? And yes, I also know that when in the wrong hands, computer generated painting can bring about the most horrifyingly trite and facile results. But, in the hands of Almacan, this for me is the pure magic of the subconscious mind set free through pixels.


Grady Echegaray said...

What an excellent visual portrayal of the fantasmagorae that flit through our minds constantly while we go about our quotidian tasks. Thank you Alpha.

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