Worlds within worlds, I am drawn to the notion that my figures exist in a world of their own. That they have a digital life in a digital world. That my works are a glimpse into that future, where digital and the real meld together to create something greater than we are now. That machines will learn to think and pass the singularity and that humans will grow and change and merge alongside them until we cross a digital frontier and it all merges with our own. Where gender binaries no longer matter and nothing counts beyond the mind and thought and creativity. When we are no longer constrained by our bodies and our antiquated notions that some genders or races or abilities are superior.
A gray, lifeless androgynous shape stares at me from within my screen. I grant it life. I grant it primary and secondary gender characteristics. I give it skin. I move from being the sculptor to the puppeteer and lovingly help them move into position. I provide everything they need in their world. A phone, some draperies, a backdrop, some lighting. Then I shift, once more, to photographer. I light my virtual stage and craft the key lights to create the best results. The camera, in this case, is a rendering engine. it takes everything in the scene and calculates how the light world affect each and every surface just as if it were real. The light penetrates their skin just a small amount. In technical terms it is called sub surface scattering, but that is a technical term for something that infuses breath and blood into the bodies, however artificially. It makes the skin look supple, alive, glowing. The light catches the surface of the nude skin and creates natural highlights. I feel as though I have little control over this. Like a photographer I place everything correctly, apply my settings, and hope for the best. I create dozens of renders waiting for the perfect shot. That one moment when it all works.
I know it works when I feel the figure breathe. When I know that they are alive somehow. Where does the life emerge from within the figure? Is it in the sexual characteristics? In the skin? In the lighting? The figures are often expressionless, but the lighting gives them a stolid strength. A solidity. I cannot say whence they gain life. I know I create it, but I feel that they were always there, that they were yearning to transition to the figure they truly are. I help them realize this and in doing so embrace my own transness more. Like my gender, my role as an artist is fluid. I shift from sculptor to photographer to programmer to historian and back again.