Anyone in front of a connected web browser can explore the potential. The animation is a Ready-made, as it shows something that anyone with a modern web browser can recreate. The modern web browser, which is growing increasingly powerful, is the context of the artwork and one example of a 3D platform.
The accessibility of free and cheap software facilitates the use of the continually produced 3D content as a base material; some artists who do this are Nikita Diakur, Theo Triantafyllidis, Jeron Braxton, Ed Atkins, Jacolby Satterwhite, and Jon Rafman. With low polygon animations, these artists feed on and challenge the limits of the possibilities of 3D worlds and tools by reinventing the use of the software.
It is a context in which 3D visual algorithms are continually evolving. I am particularly interested in the steadily slanted product that forms between old and new technologies; the development is an intriguing battle between 2D and 3D, excess and waste, speed and quality. The visual effect is present when we look at the surface of any 3D object. The rendered surface of the model is the product of an ongoing history of development. Here, I follow in the argument that Alan Warburton presented in the visual essay "Spectacle, Speculation, Spam" (2006). 3D software updates itself in the background while we use it. At the same time, there is a constant devaluation of the context of 3D images as more realistic simulations appear – that’s why 3D from earlier decades looks cheap to us. Hito Steyerl argues for "the poor image", and the commercial studio wants to escape it.
I believe that contemporary identity is formed in the cross-section of development where pop culture (segmented memories of technology) and new technology meet. New technology defines what kind of identity we can imagine.
As I speculatively formulate it in the video:
As we sort what we see with our visual memory - we are caught up in the same surreal cross-section of realism and its realization as the 3D models. Between 2D and 3D, excess and waste, speed and quality, the models' general capacity is feedback blocks for our vision. A reorientation takes place where the surface of pop culture meets the depth of new technology.
Or as Katherine Hayles puts it in the prologue to her book How We Became Posthuman:
As you gaze at the flickering signifiers scrolling down the computer screens, no matter what identifications you assign to the embodied entities that you cannot see, you have already become posthuman.
N. Katherine Hayles, How We Became Posthuman, University of Chicago Press, 1999 p. xiv.
The cyborg in a struggle with the closest binary cliché
A character that embodies this cross-section and is also a popular 3D theme is the cyborg. The cyborg takes form in the borderland between homo sapiens, animals, and technology. Donna Haraway writes about cyborgs and, more recently, about creatures. More than anything, the cyborg can make us question the essence of humanity, becoming a way to understand ourselves through the agencies of being something else and by making kin.
Although the work has taken a shape, it still holds a lot of potential ambiguity. The battle here is between two forces of visual understanding - an unstable network of desire in a constant struggle with the closest binary cliché. When it comes to Sketchfab, clichés form around the market logic, which often asks us to subscribe to a heteronormative gaze. But inside the maze, we are still safe.
As for humans, I assume that the power of the 3D models resides in their constitution. I guess the 3D models get their agency from their common material connectedness and technical foundation and not just in how they differ, not only how they can be distinguished as products or individual subjects; that is why I see WebGL technology – the algorithms for light and shapes – as a shared opportunity, and why I believe it to be essential to translate these products, things, animals, machines, and bodies into landscapes or sequences for us to experience.
Inside the maze, the models connect. As they are part of the lineage of open technology, they become 3D creatures. A maze forms in the animation as the 3D models weave into each other. Instead of separated objects, the 3D models can fulfill a desire for a shared space for reorientation. - Like the cyborg, the 3D creature link to every creature that has ever existed. The common space, in this case, is topological, inside looking inside, a hole in which a connected rhizome becomes more visible. Instead of objects, it is a map of interconnected possibilities. In A Thousand Plateaus, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari write about rhizomes and the wolf as a hole. The passage below can illustrate a change in perspective, not only escaping the taxonomy of the website but also showing how a new spirit is found inside the rhizomatic creature. It is not only an escape from a rigid structure but an awakening of the hole, the reverse geometry. It is the becoming of technology as spirit. The hole is reverse geometry.
Lines of flight or of deterritorialization, becoming-wolf, becoming- inhuman, deterritorialized intensities: that is what multiplicity is. To become wolf or to become hole is to deterritorialize oneself following distinct but entangled lines. A hole is no more negative than a wolf. Castration, lack, substitution: a tale told by an overconscious idiot who has no understanding of multiplicities as formations of the unconscious. A wolf is a hole, they are both particles of the unconscious, nothing but particles, productions of particles, particulate paths, as elements of molecular multiplicities. It is not even sufficient to say that intense and moving particles pass through holes; a hole is just as much a particle as what passes through it. Physicists say that holes are not the absence of particles but particles traveling faster than the speed of light. Flying anuses, speeding vaginas, there is no castration.
Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia.
London: Continuum. 2004, p. 36.
Like the wolf pack, the 3d models in my world belong together and comprise a strangely formed assemblage of colors and shapes floating alongside pop culture. They are multiplicities within pop. As becoming-wolf, I want the 3d models to move and locate themselves at the periphery of the crowd, not leaving it, becoming it by stretching it, finding lines of flight. Leveraging room for others to explore, deform, merge and stretch. Like in hacking, expanding the use of the system for queer enhancement. To put it in the spirit of Deleuze and Guattari: how can the molar lines, structures that underpin the status quo, be expanded by molecular activity, the use of the system?
3D creatures of the world wide web unite!
The world of the animation is slanting, oblique, sidelong, crooked, skewed, askew. It opens up to a powerful possibility that connects us with the 3D models and, if we like, our own bodily, rhizomatic, queer, surreal, Harawaian, Kristivian, psychedelic, spiritual desires and futures. These desires move the gaze around the next corner and drive us through the 3D maze of excess and waste.
My hope is that the work will reveal these flexible connections between the 3D models. Humans develop visual culture and technological infrastructure in the blending of 2D and 3D; on the horizon, a cyborg creature emerges. With the work, I want to celebrate the future of this unknown creature – a queer cross-section between us and them.
The shift away from the model as an object and clichés reveals a characteristic landscape of surreal beauty. The juxtaposition of more abstract 3D forms and textures is the basis for understanding the work as a liberating force. Hito Steyerl points out that, writing about the surrealists, Walter Benjamin emphasizes the liberating power within things – “the slumbering collective from the dream-filled sleep of capitalist production”. Steyerl continues:
Things are never just inert objects, passive items, or lifeless shucks, but consist of tensions, forces, hidden powers, all being constantly exchanged. While this opinion borders on magical thought, according to which things are invested with supernatural powers, it is also a classical materialist take. Because the commodity, too, is understood not as a simple object, but a condensation of social forces.
Hito Steyerl, “A Thing Like You and Me.” e-Flux Journal 15, 2010, p. 5.
I end the animation with a classical materialist take - with reference to The Communist Manifesto and with the hope that the 3D models could help us start a revolution. As we follow the 3D models, anthropomorphic opportunity grows around us. The material conditions that produce and maintain them must be changed in order to change the heteronormative values that inform the outside of the models.
It is a reorientation that embodies the surreal and queer quality of technology.
This world is filled with revolutionary opportunities.
We call from the depths of these surfaces.
- 3D Models of the World Wide Web unite!
- You have nothing to lose but your chains!