It was 3:33 am, and I found myself lying on my travel mattress in the living room of my best friend’s apartment, wide awake. The subtle noise of downtown San Francisco entered through the window, serving as a backdrop to my discomfort at that moment – I knew very well that I would not be able to fall back asleep anytime soon. Not wanting to wake my friend, I decided against the usual middle of the night typing session, and instead strapped on my Quest. It was time to create.
A lot of my favorite creations have come into being during these early hours of the morning, and while I am still unsure why that is, I have learned over the years to embrace it rather than try to hopelessly fall back asleep. Consciously, my mind does not have anything in particular that it wants to make, but I can feel when something deeper yearns to come out through whatever medium is available. Lately, this medium has been virtual reality, and the various spatially oriented design tools that have come into existence over the past few years.
I find that these tools provide a fresh perspective when creating, allowing one to investigate objects from all angles, and at all scales. While I have previously been able to do this in 3D environments such as Cinema 4D and Unity, VR allows me to be inside of a space and immersed in my creation, as opposed to observing it through the narrow lens of a computer screen. Being able to hold an object and move it in my hands lets me quickly iterate, effortlessly changing what I want and massaging the polygons in a way that is much more intuitive than with the traditional keyboard and mouse. While I still love the powerful capabilities of traditional modeling and animation software, the convenience of putting on a headset in bed and being teleported into an immersive creative experience is quite enjoyable.
I like to consider myself a digital dream builder, so perhaps that explains the sporadic urges to create during the dreaming hours. It allows me to tap into that state of otherworldliness, often revealing things that would otherwise remain hidden. Sometimes interesting beings or shapes appear, other times I discover abstract forms that make no sense at all. Whatever the result, if I don’t explore them, I usually cannot go back to sleep. During this particular session, a being expressed itself through Gravity Sketch, a digital modeling tool that was recommended to me by fellow creator Metageist. The character that emerged ended up being the foundation for my first tokenized 3D scene, “Within Reach“.
Bringing together both the bizarre and the beautiful, “Within Reach” set the scene for curiosity and surprise. While creating, I often like to explore where I am internally/externally and how my present state relates to my interactions and experiences shared with others. Even though life has been strange for all of us lately, there is still so much beauty to be found in each moment. This piece ended up being a journey to reconnect with that. Using VR sculpting and modeling, uncomfortable sentiments expressed themselves through the realization of this unique figure and this particular method of creating enabled me to play with the human form in new ways. Later combining this with motion graphics and 3D animation, I brought the character to life and embellished its surroundings with prismatic allure. No matter how weird or uncomfortable this life may feel, beauty and wonder are always within reach.
As the piece progressed, I inevitably spent more time reflecting on its potential future, and the greater landscape of digital art. With the proliferation of the NFT space and advancements in platform interoperability, tokenized 3D scenes will eventually be displayable in digital parcels, viewable from all angles such as an art installation in a virtual museum or a conversation piece inside of a digital home. It is highly likely that we will even be able to experience artworks like this in the physical world via AR, projection mapping, or hologram. What a wonderful future to dream of, and as such, the piece was crafted to provide an enjoyable experience regardless of how it is viewed. From physically based rendering techniques to baked ambient occlusion and shadows, the texturing was designed to provide a certain level of realism, while still encapsulating that same dream-like essence from which it was born.
Imagine walking through a vibrant world filled with your favorite artworks, that you can fly around and inspect, or even interact with! Clothes that avatars wear, sculptures, moving paintings on the walls, and even the buildings will be works of art carefully crafted by a creator, and proudly owned by a collector. This is already happening as we speak in virtual worlds such as Cryptovoxels and Somnium Space, and it is beautiful witnessing it all unfold. The role NFT’s will play in the proliferation of these digital worlds is significant for many reasons, and will only strengthen the connection between artists and collectors, whose communities are built through sharing their works, experiences, and interactions. On platforms such as SuperRare, artists are now able to frictionlessly exchange their works for value, in turn providing them with access to more opportunities and resources to continue creating.
With these advancements, the proliferation of user-owned virtual worlds is inevitable as digital ownership facilitates a dynamic relationship between individuals and the virtual items which they own. Landowners are economically incentivized to develop their properties, and play a significant role in the underlying communities. Due to the limitless nature of digital worlds, artists are finding themselves at the forefront of this, blazing off into the horizon and fully empowered to express their ideas and artworks in a way that was not previously supported for the digital artist. While we are still in the beginning of all this, it is becoming clearer every moment that we are building the new reality through our collective thoughts, words, and actions. As always, I aim to spread peace, love, and rainbows throughout the metaverse!