Gender and Hyperreality

A Conversation with Stacie Ant

Loud, colourful, dramatic and entirely futuristic: Stacie Ant’s digital renders are a stylised critique of the technologically upheld male gaze. Describing herself as a “professional sims player”, Ant’s work inverts patriarchal expectations of women, utilising the software used to uphold these expectations and subverting them to create work empowering female sexuality. In an interview with chimera co-founder Rita Waczkowska, Ant explained her methods and gave advice for new 3D artists.

Currently based in Berlin, Ant was educated at the Ontario College of Art & Design. Her education at OCAD is described as important for her research into art history, being instrumental in discovering her own style. “I was doing quite a bit of exhibiting and getting some brands to do exhibitions… I was doing art before I was doing 3D animation.” However, Ant warns against drawing too much from other artists, especially her fellow 3D artists: “you can end up accidentally copying somebody or making stuff that looks the same.” In this way, Ant forges an individual style that draws on her real-world experiences more so than fellow artists. “People are my main inspiration” states Ant, something evident throughout her body of work. Despite her success, Ant does not see herself as a “star”: “I hope that some people will relate and when they do it makes me really happy...I don’t think I’ll ever get to a stage where I’m no longer surprised that people were excited to work with me.”

Both solo and in collaboration, Ant emphasises a futuristic female form that often defies the laws of physics. The medium of 3D rendering has been invaluable in this sense - by pushing the human body to limits unthinkable in the human world, 3D rendering allows “something so grand that couldn’t really be executed in the physical world” by eliminating real-world problems. Ant pushes the boundaries of the medium, embracing the futuristic hyperreal space and not shying from it.

Her 2019 UFO rendering is particularly good at pushing the medium: the scene is too fantastical to stage in reality, and would be otherwise incredibly costly - yet with renderings, Ant can create entire futuristic, fantasy worlds. The body can also be modified beyond human abilities, as seen in ‘Motherboard’: the figure is joined with robotic technology, seemingly incubated against the darkness

In a similar vein, Ant plays with concepts within digital fashion; through using “digital fashion to execute pieces that couldn’t actually exist”, she further abstracts her work into new futuristic areas of exploration. Having previously worked at Helsinki Fashion Week, she worked with other designers to create extravagant designs: “we used so much [digital] material and it was covered in Swarovski diamonds - it would cost millions of dollars to physically create, but because we did it digitally we had so much control over it.” Digital fashion creates “control overgarments” and new possibilities for the human form: in tying bodies together with expressions of fashion, Ant subtly comments on the commodification and fetishisation of consumer fashion.

The theme of gender runs throughout Ant’s work, either through depictions of a strong female form or through explorations of gender fluidity. Whilst she emphasises “there is no universal view” that one should take from her work, the theme of female sexuality and empowerment is impossible to miss. She describes her characters as part of a “cinematic” landscape, actors in her hyper-realities that serve to subvert the male gaze and take back autonomy over the presentation of women in media. “I hope to capture women as protagonists, whether they’re being sexual or not. I’m really trying to empower.” She also embraces “gender fluid[ity]” and experiments with gender stereotypes, expectations and presentations throughout her work. In particular, ‘Keeping up with the Cardassians’ presents an interesting comment on gendered expectations and technology: obviously a pun on the Kardashians, the figure depicted is an extraterrestrial being with distinctly alien features. The facial distortions, the long fingers and the armour-esque clothing emphasise the posthuman nature of modern celebrity: internet celebrity is so far removed from reality that they may as well be aliens.

Alongside personal projects, Ant collaborates extensively with brands and other artists. “My favourite [artist collaboration] would be a music video I did for Berlin musician Tornado Wallace in 2019, it's such a strange concept and based on a dream that he had when he was sleeping on an aeroplane and he dreamt this crazy story. It's really different from what I normally do but it ended up being one of my best, and it was shown on Australian TV.”

Over the next year, Ant hopes to “work on more personal and conceptual projects” - potentially in a gallery setting - with more emphasis on fine art projects alongside commercial work. She constantly wants to take her work “to the next level” and reach as many people as possible: “at the moment I really rely on working by myself and using the internet… but I would really like to do something that reaches more people and would love to do more public installations.” Her aim is to expand into a team of artistic creators: “When I’m doing my video it feels like I have so many roles, so I would love in 10 years to have a team of people with a similar vision to me helping execute projects that will reach more people.” She has her first public installation organised in Paris in the near future. Stacie Ant, with her playful and creative explorations into gender and futurism, is an artist certain to be making bigger and bigger waves in the digital art scene in the years to come.

Stepping out from a back shop poster, Wishing life wouldn't be so long, Stacie Ant, 2019

To discover more of her work, visit Stacie's Instagram @whosthereplease

Follow Elliot on his Instagram @el.iott