Tag Archives: Second Life

Imaginary Universe: Richard Kolker’s Computer Generated Images

London-based artist Richard Kolker has been working exclusively with computer generated imagery (CGI) for the last six years. But the fact that he comes from a traditional photographic background, having previously worked as a commercial photographer for Getty Images, would surprise no one: Kolker’s imagined pictures of still lifes, interiors and landscapes are rendered with such precision and clarity that they appear like true, documentary shots.

Inspired by the online virtual world Second Life and games such as World of Warcraft, which both rely heavily on GCI, Kolker sought to create images that were the antithesis of the aesthetic found in these programs. “I wanted to create images that reflected a more mundane nature, as opposed to the more fascinating environments people were experiencing through the anonymity of an avatar,” he says.

TIME Magazine

Richard Kolker’s computer generated image featured in the Oct. 29, 2012 issue of TIME.

That quieter mood is seen in the image created for Kolker in this week’s education-themed issue of TIME. For a story that examines the potential of free online courses to upend traditional higher education, Kolker created a dark image of an empty classroom. “A lot of my photos have this dark shadowy entity to it,” he explains. “I wanted to convey the emptiness with this classroom image—like all the life has been taken out.”

Kolker’s images typically take a couple days to create. And while the method may be seen as unconventional, he says the process itself feels similar to actual shooting. “I build a model like I would with plastic or cardboard, and I light it as I would in real life—but just with digital tools,” Kolker says. “And then I photograph it with a computer tool [Maxon Cinema 4D] that has a shutter speed and aperture—so in many ways, it’s fairly conventional.”

For the most part, Kolker relies on his self-described “vivid imagination” to conceptualize pictures, although he’ll use an actual photograph as a starting point from time to time. In one series, “Reference, Referents,” Kolker looked to famous works by artists whose pieces recalled photographic elements, including David Hockney, and tried to recreate the perfect picture that might have inspired said work.

He still carries cameras around when he travels, but says he never takes pictures anymore, preferring to continue his CGI work. “The whole world is shifting from analog to digital, and I love thinking about this digital code that you can use to create images of places around the world without ever having to go there,” Kolker says. “I love the total freedom of it—the ability to create whatever it is in your imagination or fantasy.”

Richard Kolker is an artist based in the U.K. See more of his work here


Cynthia Greig

Cynthia Greig is an image maker who continues to create work that pushes the perceptions of what we know. Images from two well-exhibited series are shown below, but Cynthia also has a website and resume that reflect a continual exploration of what is real and/or true through photography and video.

From the series, Representations

From the series, Life-Size

A Detroit photographer, Cynthia received her MFA from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and also studied filmmaking at the University of Iowa where she received her MA in art history. She has exhibited widely around the world and her work is held in many public collections. She also, along with Catherine Smith, co-authored the book of vintage photographs, Women in Pants: Manly Maidens, Cowgirls and Other Renegades pib;;osjed bu Harry N. Abrams. In 2011, the Oakland University Art Gallery exhibited a survey exhibition, Cynthia Greig: Subverting the (un)Conventional curated by Dick Goody, which included a 70-page illustrated color catalogue.

She will be opening an exhibition of her Nature Morte Series at the DNJ Gallery in Los Angeles on April 21, running through June 2, 2012.

From the series, Nature Morte

Because this post comes on the heels of Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to share work from The Likeness of Being.

THE LIKENESS OF BEING: Xbox 360, Second life, Cyber sex. What is real? What is fake? Plastic bodies, Mass-Reproduced, Faux flesh pressed between my fingers. Blank stares and anatomically incomplete, but through the camera’s frame a certain intimacy rings true. A private touch or tenderness—a semblance of fleeting human feeling in miniature toy form. Filtered through a vague recollection of experience, the virtual is real is ideal. The Magic Hour.

Cinematic, photographic, in print, on the Internet, one-night stands, true love, my camera is my body is my witness. Living flesh connects with invented love on a 1:12 dollhouse scale—what’s the difference if we feel? My image sensor replicates the resemblance of prior intimacies. Life imitates Art imitates Life. Review, edit, revise, repeat, delete—Save—for as long as it will survive on jump, flash, hard drive. Flickr, Facebook, YouTube—human memory stored in synthetic skin.

Ancestral desires carved in stone still await the After Life. Our Future Plastic. Enlarged to life-size, surrogate bodies hide the missing entrance to their mother’s womb.

Paloma al Aire

All images © Ricardo Cases

We have just received word that there are only a few copies left of Ricardo Cases‘ critically acclaimed book Paloma al Aire, published by Dewi Lewis.

Ricardo Cases’ third photobook deals with an unusual subject: a unique form of pigeon racing practised in the Spanish regions of Valencia and Murcia. Known as colombiculture, it is a sport with rules and referees.

It consists of releasing one female pigeon and dozens of males. Painted in combinations of primary colours, reminiscent of flags or football kits, these pigeons chase the female to get her attention. None ever manage to get too intimate, and consequently the winner is the one that spends the most time close to her. The winner is not necessarily the most athletic, the toughest or the purest in breed but the most courteous, the one that shows most constancy and has the strongest reproductive instinct. This is the one that is seen by aficionados of the sport as the true embodiment of ‘macho’.

The pigeon handler invests time, money and hope in his young pigeons. He raises them, gives them names, trains them and has faith in them. When competition day arrives he is full of childlike illusion and uncertainty. The price for young pigeons can reach thousands of euros and betting involves large amounts of money. The male pigeon becomes almost a projection of the pigeon-keeper himself, who embodies its sporting, economic and sexual success or failure in the community. Raising a male champion can bring both prestige and profit. Far from the harsh reality of his daily life, the colombaire has a second life where all is possible – he can reach the top. He just needs a champion pigeon.

In Paloma al Aire, Ricardo Cases explores the sport as a symbolic act, a projection and a way of relating to the world. It is an ethnographic documentation as groups of men run through the countryside behind their male pigeons, observing their mating performances, discussing the rules and the decisions. It could almost be a study of the rituals of a remote tribe or of a group of children who, in the process of discovering the world, invent a new game.

Born in Orihuela, Spain, in 1971, Ricardo Cases originally studied journalism at the University of The Basque Country. He has exhibited widely throughout Spain as well as in China, Poland and Peru, and has won several awards. He now lives and works in Madrid and is represented by La Fresh Gallery, Madrid.

We have also included this short video to give you a better picture of the book and the work as a whole.