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Notes

(Image taken from an upcoming unannounced game by Caspar Sawyer)
It may come as no surprise that I rather enjoy certain aspects of retro sci-fi culture, considering the type of posts I have written so far.
Films like Tron, or The Last Starfighter have for ever warped my mind to enjoy a certain look and style.

There is a nostalgic element at work there, but I actually think it goes deeper than that.  So, I am going to focus a bit on “classical “ computer graphics this time to make a specific point:
I honestly believe that the aesthetic of a lot of early computer/video game graphics, is extraordinarily powerful.
And it has been like this for longer than you may think… Yes, initially the visuals were created in the context of limited technological means…

Yes sometimes this led to a certain crudeness…
But ultimately it informed a unique aesthetic that turned constraints into strengths.  It developed it’s own grammar and style that is direct and effective. many classic CG images and animations can be seen as exuberant and innovative, rather than primitive or artless.
The lack of processing power led to clarity of design. (which is often sorely lacking in pointless and soulless photorealism that we often see today)
I actually think we should do more to SERIOUSLY celebrate classical computer graphics. Why deride it? We don’t laugh at the crudeness in a lot of constructivist art, or the simplicity of “de Stijl” or the lack of detail in minimalism. So why then does early CG gets dismissed as cheap retro cool? Personally I would like to see more serious analysis, curated exhibitions, and writing on the subject.
From John Whitney , to various film / television/ corporate  SFX, to video games,  to various movie idents, to research projects … it really needs some cultural re-appraisal. 

Some people are aware of Classical CG’s intrinsic value and create new work that celebrates this. (See Caspar’s image at the top of the page).
It is entirely possible to employ a classic style without creating something derivative. Let’s have more of that. :-)
 

(Image taken from an upcoming unannounced game by Caspar Sawyer)

It may come as no surprise that I rather enjoy certain aspects of retro sci-fi culture, considering the type of posts I have written so far.

Films like Tron, or The Last Starfighter have for ever warped my mind to enjoy a certain look and style.

There is a nostalgic element at work there, but I actually think it goes deeper than that.  So, I am going to focus a bit on “classical “ computer graphics this time to make a specific point:

I honestly believe that the aesthetic of a lot of early computer/video game graphics, is extraordinarily powerful.

And it has been like this for longer than you may think… Yes, initially the visuals were created in the context of limited technological means…

Yes sometimes this led to a certain crudeness…

But ultimately it informed a unique aesthetic that turned constraints into strengths.  It developed it’s own grammar and style that is direct and effective. many classic CG images and animations can be seen as exuberant and innovative, rather than primitive or artless.

The lack of processing power led to clarity of design. (which is often sorely lacking in pointless and soulless photorealism that we often see today)

I actually think we should do more to SERIOUSLY celebrate classical computer graphics. Why deride it? We don’t laugh at the crudeness in a lot of constructivist art, or the simplicity of “de Stijl” or the lack of detail in minimalism. So why then does early CG gets dismissed as cheap retro cool? Personally I would like to see more serious analysis, curated exhibitions, and writing on the subject.

From John Whitney , to various film / television/ corporate  SFX, to video games,  to various movie idents, to research projects … it really needs some cultural re-appraisal.
 

Some people are aware of Classical CG’s intrinsic value and create new work that celebrates this. (See Caspar’s image at the top of the page).

It is entirely possible to employ a classic style without creating something derivative. Let’s have more of that. :-)

 

Notes

A lot of people have fond memories of their younger years reading comics, and I am no different. I have blogged about this before wrt to European Sci-Fi.
Just as influential however were American superhero comics. I just devoured them with an ever increasing voracity, partially because they just offered such grand scale ideas! (Which is part of the fun of Sci-Fi for me)
The period that spoke to me most was the late 70s/early 80s Marvel era, especially the work of John Byrne.
John Byrne worked on all the greats; Fantastic Four, X-Men, Avengers, Spiderman… you name it, and often gave them new life with seminal issues. His work with Chris Claremont on the X-Men or his superb Fantastic Four run defined the era for me.
He could easily compete with the less formulaic European scen though, if given the freedom. Check out this rare example (Critical Error) couresy of the Space in Text blog:

Its the super hero stuff that did it for me though. Be they classic characters or new heroes or villains Like Terrax the Destroyer who was such a good character in the Fantastic Four:

Ultimately what really makes his work stand out is that it is always inventive, full of colour and ideas, without being overly shouty or pin-up influenced.  Somehow it feels both iconic and modern.
I am not sure if anybody produces superhero comics quite like that anymore, but I would love to find some.

A lot of people have fond memories of their younger years reading comics, and I am no different. I have blogged about this before wrt to European Sci-Fi.

Just as influential however were American superhero comics. I just devoured them with an ever increasing voracity, partially because they just offered such grand scale ideas! (Which is part of the fun of Sci-Fi for me)

The period that spoke to me most was the late 70s/early 80s Marvel era, especially the work of John Byrne.

John Byrne worked on all the greats; Fantastic Four, X-Men, Avengers, Spiderman… you name it, and often gave them new life with seminal issues. His work with Chris Claremont on the X-Men or his superb Fantastic Four run defined the era for me.

He could easily compete with the less formulaic European scen though, if given the freedom. Check out this rare example (Critical Error) couresy of the Space in Text blog:

Its the super hero stuff that did it for me though. Be they classic characters or new heroes or villains Like Terrax the Destroyer who was such a good character in the Fantastic Four:

Ultimately what really makes his work stand out is that it is always inventive, full of colour and ideas, without being overly shouty or pin-up influenced.  Somehow it feels both iconic and modern.

I am not sure if anybody produces superhero comics quite like that anymore, but I would love to find some.

457 Notes

For me Sci-Fi art was at its best in the 70/80s. You could see a step change in production design on films like Alien, Star Trek, Blade Runner and Tron (and others). You could see it on 1000s of sci-fi book covers, (often better than the books themselves). You could even see it on record sleeves.
I will likely do a seperate detailed blog post one day about the virtues of Sci-Fi art in this era, vs the largely bland, militairistic, and worse uniform efforts we see so much in modern concepts. But for now I am going to do some quick posts on a few of my favourite artists.
Today it’s John Harris, one of my favourite Sci-Fi artist. Not famous by name, but famous through his work. Browsing his portfolio is an excercise of AHAAA-so-HE-did-that-cover moments. Many people’s favourite sci-fi books bear his work on the cover. Have a look here, at his official site.
One of the key aspects of his work is simply the sense of scale*, and sense of wonder that he brings to the table. Or as he puts it, the sheer MASS of his subject matter.
(*via Astrona)
I am lucky enough to have this original on my office wall:

We need more of this I think.

For me Sci-Fi art was at its best in the 70/80s. You could see a step change in production design on films like Alien, Star Trek, Blade Runner and Tron (and others). You could see it on 1000s of sci-fi book covers, (often better than the books themselves). You could even see it on record sleeves.

I will likely do a seperate detailed blog post one day about the virtues of Sci-Fi art in this era, vs the largely bland, militairistic, and worse uniform efforts we see so much in modern concepts. But for now I am going to do some quick posts on a few of my favourite artists.

Today it’s John Harris, one of my favourite Sci-Fi artist. Not famous by name, but famous through his work. Browsing his portfolio is an excercise of AHAAA-so-HE-did-that-cover moments. Many people’s favourite sci-fi books bear his work on the cover. Have a look here, at his official site.

One of the key aspects of his work is simply the sense of scale*, and sense of wonder that he brings to the table. Or as he puts it, the sheer MASS of his subject matter.

(*via Astrona)

I am lucky enough to have this original on my office wall:

We need more of this I think.

Notes

I am obsessed with cinema. Always have been, always will. I am one of those people that want people to shut up during the commercials and previews in the theatre. I’d rather have the whole cinema to myself to be honest.

I studied film, made crappy amateur videos, and am currently writing scripts. I run an indie production company called Omni Systems Limited, and although my main focus is video games, I also work on cinematic/television projects.

Anyhoo, the point is, for me cinema is magic. And one of the spells it casts is the gloriously beautiful and weird concept of “idents”. Little animated business cards created by production companies all over the world.

Including my own

And for a real treat check out this video by Justice, that celebrates idents to brilliant effect.

11 Notes

Has anybody done cyberpunk as well as Koji Morimoto?

From the Ken Ishii music video “Extra ” (the video above) to the best sequence in the Animatrix as well as his impeccable qualities as an illustrator and designer, Koju Morimoto just keeps on impressing. Check out his book “Orange” if you can find a copy. (I bought mine in Tokyo). Parka blog did a review here.

His work is extremely influential, but often flies just below the radar.

I would love to work with him one day, maybe on my Neopolis project. :-)

2 Notes

Karl Sims is a fairly well known name in areas of A.I., computer graphics, and procedural content generation he made his mark on the field with various explirations of evolutionary A.I, and wrote a pretty influential paper or two on computer graphics

Although evolutionary algorithms turned out to be less fruitful than initially promised there is still an undeniable brilliance and magic to these early videos. Some of their content was even used in music videos by Future Sound of London and Pantera. (No, Really!)

It is one of the key influences on my work on Eufloria. Have a look here and here.

1 Notes

Dick Matena is a massively important contributor to the comics scene in the Netherlands, and totally unknown outside of the Benelux. THIS IS WRONG
He has won many awards, contributed many times to the best issues of Heavy Metal Magazine, and is still producing amazing work.
Check out his amazing line (via the excellent Por Por Blog)
Or his sense of mood and atmosphere
Or just the sheer originality of his work (Via Escriba Virtual)
Despite his excellent current literary comics work I prefer his avantgarde Sci-Fi from 70s and 80s, so when I heard he is revisiting his classic series Virl I got quite excited. All I can wish for now is that some day somebody will translate his work to cinema.

Dick Matena is a massively important contributor to the comics scene in the Netherlands, and totally unknown outside of the Benelux. THIS IS WRONG

He has won many awards, contributed many times to the best issues of Heavy Metal Magazine, and is still producing amazing work.

Despite his excellent current literary comics work I prefer his avantgarde Sci-Fi from 70s and 80s, so when I heard he is revisiting his classic series Virl I got quite excited. All I can wish for now is that some day somebody will translate his work to cinema.

Notes

Out of all arcade classics, Exerion is the game that still stands out for me as the perfect fusion of (then) futuristic graphics, cool audio and great gameplay. It is still fantastically fun to play, and I wish I owned one of these cabinets.

have a peek at the video in this post, or check out this more detailed look at the game.

1 Notes

Naqoyqatsi, the third in the Qatsi cycle, isn’t nearly as famous as the preceding two films. (Koyaanisqatsi remains one of my favourite films of all time)

This is partly because the genius cinematographer Ron Fricke, who contributed so much to the earlier films, died before this was shot. The director Godfrey Reggio opted instead to go for a (then) highly experimental digital style of filmmmaking, which left most reviewers puzzled.

IMO it stood the text of time however, and now stands as a prime example of 90s digital art and collage exuberance.

Notes

I grew  up with comics, anything from Fantastic Four to Peanuts. But while everybody knows about those there is also a whole world of lesser known European (French, Belgian, Dutch) comics that are not read much beyond their own borders. Yet some of these have been massively influential. 

One of these is “Valerian & Lareline" by Christin and Mezieres. Beautiful, fun, original Scifi from France, and a major influence on many Scifi films and comics.

The series is still going and a treasure trove of superb art and Scifi stories for the uninitiated.

I grew up with comics, anything from Fantastic Four to Peanuts. But while everybody knows about those there is also a whole world of lesser known European (French, Belgian, Dutch) comics that are not read much beyond their own borders. Yet some of these have been massively influential.

One of these is “Valerian & Lareline" by Christin and Mezieres. Beautiful, fun, original Scifi from France, and a major influence on many Scifi films and comics.

The series is still going and a treasure trove of superb art and Scifi stories for the uninitiated.