Bogged Down By Mortality? Find Solace in this Mind-Bending AR Work

Conceptual artist Theo Triantafyllidis, pushes the envelope hard in his physics-defying art.
November 12, 2016, 1:10pm
How to Everything, 2016. All images courtesy the artist and Sargent's Daughter gallery

Here’s a question to ponder—does this painting make this mountain look like it’s holding a knife? That is one of many conceptual propositions brought forward by abstract artist, Theo Triantafyllidis. Combining a technology-facing video with an experiential exhibit, the artist probes the cross-section of mortality and human desire with elements of physics and architectural design. He presents a new show at New York’s Sargent’s Daughter gallery titled, a mountain made to look like a person holding a knife. Triantafyllidis is a fan of suspension of belief through niche sciences and lesser-known computer communities.


The Grecian artist invented a phrase which meditates on the fleeting nature of earthly pleasures alongside human urges to chase accomplishments: He calls it “vanitas.” Conceptually, the show revels in themes of addressing technology, mortality, and transient success through augmented reality. Similarly weaving throughout the exhibit is the idea of technology conflating personal self-regard and transforming temporary wins through clicks and favorites into delusional ego boosts.

A nod to the legacy of still life paintings, Triantafyllidis treats his dense, complex compositions as snapshots of time, reflective of the desires and whims of the human conscience just before they fade from consciousness forever. The artist shares with The Creators Project a few words on developing the painting series, "For [my] screen pieces, (MountainHow to EverythingStill Life with Yumyums), the inspiration comes from early work on artificial life and evolving simulations, like the work of Karl Sims. The underlying humor comes from early Looney Tunes cartoons and Youtube channels like "How to Basic." Additionally, I have been looking at a lot of geeky computer graphics demos, including noodle physics, viscous fluid spills on 3D bunnies, or softbody armadillos hugging each other. I was interested in using these as references, but transforming them into an abstract or ever-evolving narrative."

The prevalence of pushing the abstract-art envelope and testing the limits of technology are some of the most satisfying components of Triantafyllidis's work, he continues, "With the latest piece, Mountain, I was interested in the visceral intersection between the virtual and the physical. A ceramic sculpture was 3D-scanned, digitally painted, and morphed and finally setup in a game engine, where it becomes the landscape for a simulation. In this simulation, the ceramic piece, the mountain, is given a character and a certain scale, and a population of tiny people are set to live by it, worship it and expand it. These activities of the population may at times bring anger to the mountain and cause it to erupt. I wanted to maintain some of the aspects of the original ceramic piece, but also augment it in ways that activate its form. Various techniques and representational styles, referencing both art and computer graphics, were mixed together to achieve this."

Rock Formation I (Albedo Texture), 2016. Digital print on nylon fabric, 57 x 57 in.

Rock Formation II (Albedo Texture), 2016. Digital print on nylon fabric, 57 x 57 in.

Still Life with Yumyums, 2016. Screen piece, custom software, life simulation, 65 HDTV Monitor, gaming PC

The exhibit, a mountain made to look like a person holding a knife, shows from November 11-December 18, 2016 at Sargent's Daughter gallery in New York. Find more information on the gallery website, here.


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