5 favorite videos from recent CGI experimentalism

(This article is the translation of my text for NEWREEL, a Japanese web magazine focusing around a video production/culture.)

Most of computer graphics are still used for something “representational” purposes. Photorealism, imitating hand drawings, and even designing FUI (Futuristic/Fictional User Interfaces in a field of films) may be included by such a purpose.

I had got bored of the world of “if you can tell it’s CGI, its bad CGI”. On the other hand, my concern for the recent CGI experimentalism occurring around the internet has been growing in this several years. They’re introducing alternative algorithms and a nature of glitches as the aesthetics, in a strange manner.

While they have no concrete meanings in our world and might be too wired for our sense of reality, they surely contain their coherences in their own ways — everything in the frame such as a type of perspective, antialiasing, easing, and post-effects feels like strictly controlled by unique laws of physics or exotic axioms.

I would like to introduce 5 videos from such an experimentalism. All of them has deeply influenced my style in this several years.


1. Ohal Grietzer — Wintertime

dir: Nic Hamilton

If you’re wondering to make organic forms by programming, the reaction-diffusion systems can be useful. There’s a lot of generative artworks with the systems, however, most of them are introducing same equation — which is called Gray-Scott model. So this video made me appreciated because it appeared to be using a strange kind of reaction-diffusion system. The artist said a software Ready is used for simulation. Having been played with it in this few weeks, I really impressed by the fact that there’s a tons of the reaction-diffusion systems!

In addition to this, he used a 3DCG software to stylize the texture. Since we tend to finish within real-time approaches somehow when working around generative stuff, I thought his workflow was a kind of neutral.

2. Stoned Boys «Strain»

As soon as I watched, this video immediately grabbed my heart. Wired gradients, oblique projections, and modest dithering…it’s way cooler, isn’t it? I also empathized the stance of this video to keep itself from an internet-ish motif just like Vaporwave.

3. Zurich 2.0

dir: Dirk Koy

360° VR video of landscapes generated using photogrammetry.

I would like you to take notice how the polygon landscapes emerge. If you’re used to 3DCG, you can easily realize it’s just offsetting UV coordinates which are automatically attached by a photogrammetry software.Digital enthusiasts like me tend to use something like polygon scaling or poly-reduction in a similar situation. But I imagine such an approach just made it look like stereotyped VR visual at all. It’s just a simple idea, however, it brought an unique atmosphere to his video critically.

4. Yukisusumisariyuki

dir: kwgt

This video is created by kwgt (pronounces ”kuwagata”), a female artist as same age as me from Japan.

I can’t tell how she drew it in detail, but the visual reminds me of something clay-animations rather than glitches. With stepping forward frame by frame, she distorted a texture of previous frame. Sometimes she would have added new imagery, or sometimes erased it. Anyway, I thought it’s so cool to throw the advantage of non-destructive editing in a digital tool away.

5. Cosmic Winds — IC 2944 The Running Chicken Nebula

video by Phillip Stearns

I got to know Phillip Stearns when I was surveying pixel displacement techniques. It was surprising that I could listen in his class at SFPC by chance. He was in charge of teaching basic electric circuit unlike my impression to him. However, I gradually realize his concern spans very low level of computing and such a knowledge makes his art works so unique and intrinsic.

As you might know, there’s a cool effect called “pixel sorting”. It’s very simple algorithm and was developed by Kim Asendorf in 2010. The technique was just for glitch geeks at first. But someone turned it into After Effects plugin in few years ago and it gradually got popular in a field of motion graphics — even Ash Thorp used it in a VFX reel of “Ghost In the Shell” today.

I thought only artists exploring from such a fundamental algorithm of visual computing might be able to affect visual trends in several years future. I want to keep experiment with it hard, too.

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