If you haven’t been paying attention to the art world for the past year, that’s fine. One thing you should probably know however, is that the world of digital art has grown in leaps and bounds for many reasons. Digital art is interacting with life in a completely revolutionised way, artists are combining the disciplines of fine art, cinema, sculpture and music to create something totally new and dynamic. NFTs have also hit the scene, giving artists unprecedented safety and autonomy in their creativity — it’s been a big year. 3 artists who have been excelling in this domain are Extraweg, Randy Cano and Ines alpha.
Extraweg, also known as Oliver Latta, hails from Germany. After a degree in physiotherapy, Latta went on to study design at the renowned Bauhaus University in Dessau, Germany. A short trip to his website ( extraweg.com ) you will notice the artist’s self-description: Artist, Director, Human. The importance Latta places on humanity comes stunningly to the fore in his artworks.
Extraweg’s aesthetic staple is the human form, often with a millennial pink palette which is just a step away from the richer, vein-dense pink associated with human flesh. Like his palette, Latta’s human forms are also a step away from human: free of genitalia with surfaces that don’t read as skin but rather some sort of synthetic material, like rubber or plastic. Latta’s blend of humanity and artifice is a stunning commentary on human existence in the twentieth century in which we have grown so used to the false. In Extraweg’s universe, kisses become plastic bottles and faces crumple like aluminium cans.
A particularly stunning piece is Aging which shows a bipedal form walking through a blue abyss, it turns around with hostility and runs off the screen, only to be looped back to the start of the sequence. The apparent human figure — nude and now transfigured beyond recognition — speaks truly and painfully to the fear of ageing, especially ageing alone. The loop, which is a feature of all his video art, reminds us that this fear is as old as time.
The physics of Extraweg’s world is no less evocative, we find that surfaces are more permeable than they once appeared to be, human heads can melt under the heat of a blowdryer and when things crumble, sometimes they are made up of tiny human heads. This is no better displayed than in the NFT Extraweg made in collaboration with Mick Jagger and Dave Grohl. In which we see a human running through heads which dissolve into smaller ones when impacted. We see a world that is not made of atoms but human heads. In this way Extraweg is coaxing us to think of the human mind in the world surrounding us, perhaps even the soul.
For good reason Extraweg has garnered his fair share of global attention, with an Instagram boasting almost 1 million followers and collaborators that range from fashion publications, car advertisements, and musical artists such as Gorillaz and Bring Me The Horizon.
His most recent collaboration was on a piece called Eazy Sleazy, made with Mick Jagger and Dave Grohl. The piece accompanied a song of the same name, a rock and roll anthem à la ‘Exile on Mainstream’ which celebrates the gradual reopening of the UK and laments the past year we’ve all had.
Follow Extraweg on Instagram @Extraweg to stay up to date on his visually-striking social commentaries and other exciting collaborations and exhibitions.
Randy Cano lives and works out of Los Angeles, California. His oeuvre is expansive and touches upon all aspects of modern life: our faces, our cars, our trainers and our burgers. Not only is his subject matter diverse, so too is what he does with his pieces. His work can be found in advertising campaigns, short videos on his Instagram ( @randy.cano ), or projected onto the set of your favourite rapper. Randy Cano is everywhere and he’s doing everything.
Cano’s commercial work frequently shows his collaborator’s product suspended in negative space and often dramatically lit. It looks like the aesthetics of film noir for the new age, a reiteration of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks for our acquisition-obsessed culture. What is so distinct in his oeuvre is how he captures the spirit of Los Angeles: that distinctly empty feeling one gets in a city built on a desert, its newness and shininess and its culture of acquisition and artifice.
His collaboration with Lil Baby for his performance of ‘Emotionally Scarred’ at the American Music Awards was, in many ways, a departure from a lot of the work he has been doing recently. The audience sees the sculpture of a fairy (classical sculpture was a visual motif of Cano’s in his early work) in an Elvin wood, curiously lit by a soft dim light that glows from above the sculpture. Despite the difference between this piece and his others, Cano still preserves the imposing solitude of his subject and the darkness which encroaches on the scene.
Cano’s work despite its moodiness and mystique is all about playfulness. Cano is explorative in his work and meets the physical world with a refreshing curiosity. He concerns himself with our physics laws: how things bounce, how gravity acts on them, how they melt, crumble and break, and he pushes them to the extreme. Cano’s is a philosophy of experimentation it speaks to design’s many applications, not just to make beautiful things but to create models for a better future.
If there is one area Randy Cano does not lack, it is in the breadth and depth of his collaborations. His roster ranges from MTV and Netflix to Nike and Versace, even Maserati. Not to mention his work with some of the biggest musicians of the last ten years: Travis Scott, Normani, Big Sean, P!nk, T-Pain — the list goes on. You could argue that Cano is at his best in his collaborations; we really get to see him draw the line between his own identity as an artist and the brand identities he is working with. The result, every single time, is glorious.
Ines alpha, also known as Ines Marzat, is an art director turned digital artist working in Paris, France. Everything Ines Alpha knows about 3D and digital art is completely self-taught, her tutors being the Internet, YouTube in particular. She works mostly with video but has started to create more and more filters, which she desires to be part of her practice as an artist, and not a marketing tool. Her creations have appeared in i-D, Dazed, Wired and Vogue. Ines alpha isn’t just augmenting reality, she’s pushing it all the way to its bounds.
Ines alpha realises her creative vision through 3D software and augmented reality. She employs a colour palette that makes her work instantly recognisable with silver and iridescent pinks, greens and blues. Her 3D make-up is ethereal and surreal, often appearing to organically sprout from the model’s face, which instantly grows on the skin’s surface like some exquisite rash. These organic forms tend to evoke coral reefs, flora, fauna and fungi, but also snakes and fire.
This year, Ines alpha released a filter that she called holoctopus, a pearlescent pink face mask with tentacles that move as though floating in the water, turning its wearer into the most beautiful iteration of Zoidberg there has probably ever been. The filter is beautifully accompanied by a hypnotic deep-sea melody by panteros666. Ines alpha is certainly at her best when she takes inspiration from nature and her understanding of movement underwater always makes her sea-inspired pieces striking.
Ines Alpha empowers the wearers of her makeup to be in complete control of how they appear, with no boundary on gender, nor even species. In this way she advocates for true authenticity and enables us to either self-actualise or experiment through her works, giving us the space to explore our own image. Through her works, Ines alpha gives our childhood selves, who wanted nothing more than to be mermaids and fairies (perhaps even octopi) to finally, however briefly, live that fantasy.
Ines alpha has collaborated with the likes of Selfridges, Nike, Dior Makeup, Bimba y Lola, Burberry and GQ to name a few. Her collaborations are exciting because she brings a new standard to makeup editorial. It seems that through her collaborations, Ines alpha ushers out an era of flat, static make-up and pushes for the near-impossible instead. One wonders how the beauty industry will keep up.
If you want to keep up to date with Ines alpha’s boundary-pushing collaborations or just want to be the first to know any time she drops another one of her filters on Instagram stories, be sure to follow her on Instagram @ines.alpha.
It is really no wonder digital art has exploded the way it has in the past few years, it has empowered and liberated artists to play with their realities in a way that was not possible before. Artists are utilising these softwares to create works that mix so naturally with our own lives, enabling us to connect and interact with art like never before. With the inauguration of NFTs, they will hopefully be financially supported like never before too.