Images courtesy the artist
In some ways, animated, 3D GIF artworks are pure eye candy, like the Wachowskis' Speed Racer, but one 3D artist hopes to change this. Mike Vos Kakis, a.k.a., UON, creates hypercolored 3D shapes and patterns that twist and warp in geometric, fractal and other mathematical ways. Looking at them, it’s hard not to fall into a trance. Doubly so if the viewer is watching while playing some suitably psychedelic music.
Vos Kakis’ path to becoming a creator of exquisite animated 3D art, as he tells The Creators Project, was an unlikely one. Six years ago, after being hit hard by the recession and his father’s death, he decided to try DMT. Interested but skeptical, he consumed it in a safe and supervised setting, and what happened astonished him. Ten seconds in, the artist witnessed everything in the room start to geometrically break down and unfold into four-dimensional blocks of data.
“Every surface was rippling in every direction with beautiful patterns accelerating in complexity in infinite detail and with a much higher framerate,” Vos Kakis says. “I closed my eyes and started seeing geometric visuals building up and transforming, which also accelerated to what seemed like the speed of light. While this was happening there was this sine-wave tone I was hearing that was increasing at the same frequency and amplitude of the visuals, and when it reached the maximum I felt I was no longer in my body, but somewhere unlike anything I have seen before which strangely felt very familiar.”
Fast forward to February 2013. Vos Kakis came across a Reddit post that featured results released by some anonymous person who had connected an EEG machine to brain under the influence of DMT. The person claimed that while a human brain’s neurons “talk to each other” between 8 and 30 times a second, DMT increases this number to least 2,500 times a second—the maximum the machine could detect.
As Vos Kakis saw it, one day computers will be powerful enough to animate DMT’s visual details in real time. After taking DMT again later that year, he decided that he would interpret the visuals via current technology with 8-bit video game character that had always lived in a pixelated 3D world with 52 colors. The result is the very trippy but unfinished cyberpunk video, Mario in Hyperspace, which Vos Kakis created in After Effects.
Shortly after, the artist moved onto the 3D modeling work he now posts on Instagram. While he has found inspiration in psychedelic 3D artists who post psychedelic work on Instagram like Jeremy McKeehen, Jim Wrenholt, and TAS, Vos Kakis says much of his inspiration comes from 2D artists, like Alex Grey, who is known for his psychedelic and mystical art.
“I use a combination of Adobe After Effects and Cinema 4D,” says Vos Kakis, who has a small render farm thanks to some gifts from his girlfriend, as well as his photographer friend Patrick Latter. “After Effects is good for 2D work, making animated textures and post-processing, and Cinema 4D for 3D graphics. I'm continuously building a library of effects and presets I use to make new animations so they often take less than an hour to make, and then I let them render overnight.”
“I use the same RGB gradient in most of my work,” he adds. “The way it flows and lights up different parts of the scene in complex synchronized sequences is one of the few aspects of the DMT experience that can be translated visually.”
Vos Kakis has even experimented with stereoscopic animation, though he admits he doesn’t have 3D monitors on which he can truly enjoy them. But he did create some splitscreen videos that become stereoscopic if viewers cross their eyes. But, again, he isn’t after mere brain candy. Vos Kakis wants to stimulate the mind in ways that mimic the psychedelic experience.
“Kind of like the ways binaural beats are said to influence states of mind, I want to do that visually,” he says. “If these come from elevated states of the mind, perhaps they'll reach a point where they elevate anyone's mind slightly just by watching them. After a long crazy day I watch my own animations sometimes and it helps me feel quite relaxed and happy.”
Vos Kakis is also currently testing how his animations in virtual reality with a Gear VR headset. Those viewers can check out these experimental VR animations on Vos Kakis’ UON Visuals Facebook page.
Click here to see more work by UON.