Digital artists to get acquainted with: Vanessa’s Top Three Picks

Marco Brambilla

Marco Brambilla is an Italian-born, London-based film director and video installation artist. He made his directorial debut with the 1993 American science fiction action film Demolition Man, starring Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, and Sandra Bullock. The film became a number-one box office hit, grossing $159 million worldwide by the end of its box office run. His work has been presented at international film festivals such as Cannes (2006), Sundance (2006, 2012), and Venice (2011) and can be found in the collections of the MoMA, NY and the Guggenheim.

Partial Equilibrium, Marco Brambilla

The artist-director is also known for his large-scale video installations, whose pioneering use of technology has led to collaborations with NASA as well as high-profile celebrities including Kanye West, Marina Abramovic, and Cate Blanchett. For his interstellar installation, Apollo XVIII (2015) Brambilla combines archival footage from NASA missions and computer-generated imagery to fabricate an imagined mission to the moon. The work investigates man’s relationship to space exploration by calling into question fact versus fiction, reality versus perception. Brambilla explores themes of psychedelia and pop culture in his three-part virtual reality series Megaplex. The first part ‘Civilization’ depicts hundreds of characters and scenes from Hollywood cinema on an ascending journey from hell to heaven, while the subsequent two films chart the evolution of mankind and the life cycle of the universe, as shown in ‘Evolution’ and ‘Creation’ respectively. The visual environments presented in Megaplex offer a pop-culture reinvention of conventional narratives of history, religion, and outer space.

Heaven's Gate, Marco Brambilla

Among his latest installations are Heaven’s Gate and The Seven Deaths of Maria Callas. Currently, on view at the Pérez Art Museum, Miami, Heaven’s Gate addresses many of the same ideas explored in the Megaplex series using sampled clips from movies both famous and obscure. In 2020, Brambilla created the visual intermezzos for Marina Abramovic’s opera The Seven Deaths of Maria Callas, performed in Munich, Berlin, Paris, Florence, and Athens. Last month, Brambilla dropped an NFT titled Partial Equilibrium, a digital readymade which appropriates and recontextualizes Jeff Koons’ iconic work One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank executed in 1985. The piece sold on SuperRare for 14 ETH, or $30,625. According to the artist, “The migration of art into the virtual is very much in the spirit of the readymade, and like Duchamp, NFTs are disrupting our understanding of art-making and the art market as we know it today.”

Instagram: @marcobrambillastudio

Dirk Koy

Shape Study - GameBoy, Dirk Koy

Dirk Koy is a filmmaker and motion graphics artist from Basel, Switzerland. In 2002, Koy received a degree in Visual Communication from the Academy of Art and Design in Basel (HGK Basel). After graduation, he worked for KMS TEAM, a Munich-based strategy and branding consultancy, in the graphics and moving image divisions from 2003 to 2005. During this period, Koy was involved in the development of the cross-media Corporate Design for Porsche Design, which won a Red Dot Communication award. In 2007, he co-founded Equipo, a visual communications office specializing in graphics, animation, video, and interaction. Since then, the artist has focused on motion graphics, designing animated music videos such as ‘The City’ for the band Five Years Older, the first prize recipient of the 2015 Visual Music Awards. Over the last ten years, Koy has been teaching at his alma mater, HGK Basel, and in 2016 founded Dirk Koy Bild und Bewegung, a studio for motion design and experimental film.

Shape Study - Dog, Dirk Koy

Experimentation plays a central role in Koy’s practice, seeking to destabilize viewers’ expectations of focus and perspective. His moving digital images investigate the interface between reality and virtuality using different technologies including drones, 2D and 3D animation, photogrammetry, AR, and VR. In addition to digital techniques, Koy incorporates analog elements, which he views as ‘the soul of a work’, helping to break the esthetics of the program and make the work unique. Likening his working process to moving painting, Koy is always searching for the painterly component in digital animation. Many of his animations consist of everyday images and environments ranging from places he frequents in his hometown to distorted objects and living beings. Filmed by a drone, his Highway series shows a place called Heuwaage in Basel. Obtrusive digital shapes are inserted in the scene yet vehicles proceed to drive into them without breaking, resulting in a bizarre situation. His other well-known series, Shape Studies also involves shapes but demonstrates a greater concern with the ways in which they can be represented or perceived. To achieve this, Koy digitally modifies photographs and video recordings of places, objects, and living beings including a cat (#06), a banana (#12), and a car (#23). A selection of NFTs drawn from the Highway and Shape Studies series are for sale on Foundation and SuperRare.

Instagram: @dirkkoy

Shavonne Wong

Uplift, Shavonne Wong

Shavonne Wong is a Singaporean award-winning fashion and advertising photographer with over 10 years of professional experience. Top clients include Sephora, Lancôme, Nike, and Asia’s Next Top Model and her work has been published in several magazines such as Cosmopolitan HK, Vogue Germany, and Glamour South Africa, to name a few. Having started out as a self-taught photographer, Wong’s successful career is a testament that passion, determination, and a dash of luck can go a long way in achieving your goals. Recently, Wong had the opportunity to shoot with American actor and singer Billy Porter, whose photographs were distributed globally by Vogue Global Network. She is also an ambassador for Fujifilm, a contributing writer for Fstoppers, one of the largest photography community websites worldwide, and featured in the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list of 2020.

Lunah Moon, Shavonne Wong

While Wong likes to draw inspiration from everyday life, she also enjoys a challenge and constantly pushes herself to experiment. Fusing photography and video, her Living Stills series aims to “quite literally bring my images to life and hopefully give marketing collateral from brands a bigger impact with the consumers they are trying to engage with.” Further, Wong believes that these would work well not just on social media, but on digital advertising boards. Most often, the subjects of her Living Stills are sourced from her own fashion photography portfolio as well as famous paintings like Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring.

In April 2020, Wong entered the 3D space when photoshoots were suspended due to Covid. No longer being able to work with real models, she resolved to create her own. She is the founder of Gen V, a virtual modelling agency committed to utilizing advanced technology to boost options for the fashion industry. The agency offers an assortment of 3D models to showcase clients’ attire, accessories, and beauty products in editorials, advertisements and other collateral and assets. As of now, Gen V has developed three virtual models (Kade, Lilium, and Lunah) and two (Vanesse and Lexi) are works in progress.

Suspended, Shavonne Wong

Around the same time, Wong grew curious about NFTs, watching hours of tutorials and testing different software before settling on Character Creator, Zbrush, Substance, and Blender as her main workflow. A recurring theme in her NFT art is female empowerment. In addition to individual series on Lilium and Lunah, two of the 3D models signed with Gen V, her piece Uplift shows a group of women physically and metaphorically lifting each other up. As individuals, women are strong, unique, and worthy, but together, we can thrive and reach newer heights. Uplift was acquired by the NFTmuseum, founded in 2021, whose vast collection includes works by NyanCat, The Fabricant, and Peter Tarka. Also depicting 3D models, Kin I and Kin II by Wong are part of a makeup beauty series that emphasizes interconnectivity regardless of race. Makeup moves from face to face representing how ideas and actions cross borders and make an impact.

Instagram: @shavonne.wong