Illustrating a Migrant’s Experience in 3D Art
Hirad Sab critiques his new home and his old in darkly beautiful digital art.
Mourn. All images courtesy the artist
Hirad Sab grew up in Iran until the age of 17, lived in Turkey for a year and a half during his immigration process, and now calls the US home. This rough migration pattern—leaving a troubled Middle Eastern nation for Turkey with the West as the ultimate destination—is now very familiar to anyone following the Syrian refugee crisis. What is less familiar, though, are the thoughts and feelings of migrants years after they’ve been living in their new home countries. Sab’s darkly elegant 3D digital art reflects his experiences and conflicted identity as an immigrant.
Though he’s lived here for 6 years, Sab remains struck by the cultural differences. "I guess I'm still in a state of cultural shock but at the same time wonder if other people feel the same. There are a lot of things that are missing or have been replaced,” he writes. This sense of loss, of a world upended pervades his art, which often features funerary themes and haunting imagery. "I guess this struggle of mine manifests in one way or another in my works. There is tension of finding comfort in the environment but rejecting it at the same time."
Other works find him playing with a stereotypically West Coast color palette and kitschy imagery that seems to mock the empty consumption that America is known for. "It's too cliche to say it but things here really revolve around physicalities. Consuming and digesting and consuming again and the phenomenon is very evident when you move here with a contrasting background,” he tells the Creators Project.
Sab is entirely self-taught, and learned about 3D software suites by messaging people on the internet. “I probably annoyed a bunch of people,” he writes. The internet is a haven for him as an immigrant artist torn between two worlds, so it makes sense that digital art is his preferred medium. As a newcomer to the States, he feels that "It really boils down to integrating and assimilating yourself or distancing and annihilating your social life.” He’s chosen a third path: seeking the global haven of the internet. “It really provides the opportunity to partake but reside in the shadows. A sanctuary of sorts."
In the sanctuary of the internet, he collaborates with a variety of artists. Working with Dalena Tran, Sab created the online installation All Things Found. If you watch it for 30 seconds, you won’t be able to tear your eyes away for the next ten minutes. And in a virtual gallery curated by Morehshin Allahyari, Sab presents the disturbing political work Welcome Home, which visually recalls the horror of ISIS’s taped beheadings while names of American mega-corporations spin below. He also maintains a robust presence for his solo work online, too. His Instagram, where rather than making his works yield to the platform’s tiny squares, he presents them in a tiled, mobile-defying form, is particularly striking.
Though he’s built a following based on his 3D works, he doesn’t see himself working with them forever. “In general, I really like experimenting,” he writes. “There is so much going on and I really want to play with all of it."
To learn more about Hirad Sab's work, click here.