Our latest LoVArts networking meeting gave us the pleasure of being introduced to GMO-Lab, a London-based Italian artist working exclusively with CGI (Computer-Generated Images) techniques. His first body of work, Cubicles, gravitates around the concepts of perception and mental representation, or how intricate it is to forge our own mental models in a society saturated with ever-changing information. With a professional background in the motion pictures and rendering industry, he raises some interesting issues about the contemporary art scene and the challenge of implanting his technique among traditional artistic mediums.
LoVArts: Tell us a bit about your background.
GMO-Lab: I was born in Alghero, Italy and graduated in Multimedia and Interaction Design in Rome. Since the end of secondary school I’ve spent most of my time studying computer graphics and I’ve been fascinated by quantum mechanics and cognitive sciences. My thoughts were always directed towards how to find an explanation to everything. I’ve seen my interests develop in a curious way. Whilst growing up and studying, they oscillated from a strong reductionism and nihilism at the beginning of my 20’s, to a holistic interest to alchemy and hermeticism around 25, to finally go back to scientific and humanistic point of view from around 28 till now. That’s an example of rebound effect when you work on yourself but you have to find the path on your own!
LVA: Cubicles is your first project as an artist, can you tell us the idea behind it and how it came to life?
G-L: Cubicles questions our method to validate our perceptions against our mental representation. Every artwork aims to make the observer think about what is real and what is not and how an external influence, like the opinion of a person we trust, can change our original mental model. The project started with an assessment on how difficult it is to validate information nowadays. There is a great number of factors to consider and our attention span is reduced because we are constantly flooded with loads of information in every aspect of our lives. A shortcut to that problem is trusting in someone that can do the job for us. If we are not experts in a specific domain we must delegate to someone, but since we are social individuals rather than purely logical, it’s common to choose our trusted source along with the value we assign to its credibility. It could be a website showing something in accordance with what we think, it could be a friend, a psychologist, or an art curator. We look for the best outcome but sometimes we look for the comforting answer. There’s no simple solution to that, except maybe keeping on questioning our mental models and be ready to scrap, adapt, or enhance them as soon there is new evidence or disproof of their accuracy.
LVA: You manipulate images and digital content professionally, what made you decide to become an artist and come up with your own work?
G-L: As a Visual Effects Artist there are a lot of great opportunities to do things you love in a particular movie, from being responsible for actors’ digital doubles or working on a creature with a key role in the story. There is a certain level of technical freedom, and working in a team of very talented artists it’s always an ideal place to learn and improve yourself. The compromise is that your energy and skills are only focused on achieving someone else’s idea. That’s the main reason why I’ve chosen to follow my own path, explore my own views and express them with the techniques I find appropriate.
LVA: You mentioned when we first met the challenge it could be to label and categorise your work, can you develop on that?
G-L: I come from the motion pictures and rendering industry, it’s a commercial sector totally different in terms of selection criteria and probably in terms of simplicity in the evaluation of a work. There is always a client with some specific requests. In this new context where I am an independent artist, there is no such thing as a “client”, but a blurred line between what I want to express and what all the potential audience could expect from it. I’m still trying to figure out which could be the right place for me and if it already exists. My creative process is like making a virtual sculpture, painting on top of it, positioning the lights, then taking an overall picture and making a set of limited prints. I also like the idea of doing something for someone who’d be genuinely interested in the process. Where do I belong? It’s time to find out…
LVA: Do you ever perceive the medium you use as a challenge to make it as an artist?
G-L: This is a complex question, actually I’m still working on it. When I’m home I feel like using CGI to express myself, but on the other hand, it’s not obvious yet how it would be perceived from outside. It’s a technique used in our everyday life for commercial products like movies, images, games and anything else involving visuals. It’s supposedly just a tool, but as an artist I turn it around to express an idea. I sense that there’s still some kind of resistance to embrace digital techniques in art and value them as much as painting or sculpture. Maybe the issue lies in the repeatability and the distance people perceive between the artefact and the artist’s hand – in this case: intermediate virtual steps.
LVA: Is there anything that inspires you in the London art scene? (or inspired you in the past).
G-L: As a visual artist I’ve been impressed mostly by directors like Chris Cunningham for his cinematic style and visual language, Robert Morgan for his creepy visual storytelling through stop motion. Of course Damien Hirst for his incredibly strong imagery and concepts about death. To mention a recent discovery, I’d like to mention Emma Hopkins for her sensitivity in depicting people as they are physically by overlaying their conditions, emotions and fears.
LVA: As an emerging artist, what are your goals?
G-L: I don’t have set big goals at the moment. I’m aiming to do my best in understanding the dynamics of the art world, finding out about other like-minded artists and expanding my knowledge of contemporary art in all its aspects. It’s a very complex social system driven by its own laws and etiquettes. I’ve got a lot to learn.
LVA: Any upcoming projects in the near future?
G-L: At the moment I’m working on a series of portraits, it’s still at an early stage so everything is in examination. The challenge is big as my aim is to represent something very personal and introspective by decomposing, recombining but staying authentic at the same time.
To get in touch with GMO-Lab click here
For his website it’s here
By Laurianne Simonin