Computer Generated Images Explore Bodies Abstracted by the Digital World

Ronen Tanchum's colorful 'Orthographics' series looks at how digital images are altering our sense of what is real.

by Kevin Holmes
06 February 2017, 4:45pm

Image courtesy of the artist

The digital and organic, the familiar and impossible, the figurative and the abstract: these dualistic concepts are the subject of a new series of computer-generated artworks, called Orthographics, by artist and founder of art collective Phenomena Labs, Ronen Tanchum. Tanchum has previously worked in the film industry creating visual FX and 3D simulations. This latest project is something of a reflection on that and a look into how we react to digital images considering their omnipresent dominance and ubiquity.

Tanchum says that when making believable CG images for movies, he often hit a paradox: what might look believable to an audience is not necessarily physically correct. Conversely, realistic images would often be seen as unbelievable. "[This lead] me to find organic forms in computer images and digital clues in the real world," Tanchum explains to The Creators Project. "I started creating digitally organic patterns, growth behaviors and other types of digital effects, and then decided to create Orthographics as a way of reflecting on society's growing dependence on technology, its attempts to alter reality digitally, and on the process behind creating the believable digital image."

Image courtesy of the artist

For the series, the images are somewhat unbelievable in that they feature the human form covered in a skin of inorganic, abstract patterns, presenting the recognizible in an alien, albeit appealing, manner. "The process of creating these works started with research and development of custom computer-generated organic patterns and textures to develop believable computer generated images," notes Tanchum. "As I worked, I paid attention to computer errors that affected the aesthetic results, and then emphasized them on the human object portrayed in my work. Each portrait's look was developed uniquely using this approach."

Image courtesy of the artist

Tanchum created the images using SideFx's Houdini and OTOY's Octane renderer as the lighting and shading engine. But to really hone them, he needed further human input, so he showed each image he created to his friends and family. He wanted to know if they could relate to it or if they felt a disconnect, whether it repelled or compelled them. Those that created the strongest reactions made it into the final selection.

Image courtesy of the artist

 "When people look at my work, they might relate to the image and experience a sense of familiarity or they might feel a sense of distance, unfamiliarity and alienation," notes Tanchum. "These varied responses are an integral part of the work, since part of my aim is to uncover and confront assumptions about digital images. Today’s digital landscape is changing rapidly, and that means responses to the images will change too. With these works, I hope to not just capture a single moment within this digital landscape, but to also offer a means through which to explore the ways that this changing landscape continues to alter our perception."   

Image courtesy of the artist

Image courtesy of the artist

To see more of Ronen Tanchum's work, visit his website here. To learn more about art collective Phenomena Labs, visit their website here.


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digit art
Ronen Tanchum
Phenomena Labs
digital images