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Traveling Through Painted Worlds

Eric Friden | 19 Jul 2013 18:00
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Rohwetter's process is every bit as unconventional as her inspiration, observing objects from different angles, through different mediums. "Normally you would use an old medium to investigate a new one," she says, "but I started to do it the other way around. I investigated the incoherence of virtual worlds through painting, and then investigated painting using a virtual world again." In practice, a piece will typically start out with the discovery of an interesting object in a virtual environment, often some form of glitch or rendering problem. Rohwetter will then take a screenshot of that object and try to recreate it with her paintbrush - with the natural interpretation that comes along with painting.

The painting is not the result of the process, it's a part of it

From the painting, she can jump back again by constructing a new three-dimensional environment, recreating the initial object and adorning the polygons with hand painted textures imported from the painting. The process can continue for a long time as she moves back and forth between traditional painting and computer graphics, with the occasional detour into video art and collages.

"For me, the painting is not the result of the process, it's a part of it," Rohwetter says. "I don't have a sketch and then I have a painting and the painting is the product and the sketch is something else, It's more like I'm always circulating around the same phenomena that I look at from different perspectives, sometimes it's via 3D, sometimes it's via painting, sometimes it's something else."

A good example of Rohwetter's unique process is the video "Something, Somewhere" from 2011, a flythrough-video of a 3D environment modelled after one of her earlier paintings, "polygonpanorama" from 2008, it itself based on a screenshot of a three-dimensional, computer-rendered landscape. In the painting there is a foreground of sharp, snow white ridges decorated with kaleidoscopic patterns of warm, earthy colors; behind it stands a colorful background of large, irregularly shaped fields.

"I took the painting and looked at the background and thought, what it would be like if it was like the sky in a 3D model?" Rohwetter says, her voice filling up with enthusiasm. "In the painting, the background had sharp borders between different shades of color, so it shouldn't be a smooth hemisphere - the sky should be more like a crystal... thing!"

After modeling the environment and mapping areas of the painting to textures in the 3D landscape, Rohwetter had a three-dimensional version of the painting that she could start to explore and expand. "After putting the foreground of the painting inside of the crystal I could start to fly around inside the painting, thinking about what things would look like from their backsides, or what would lie underneath them, or how I had painted them, or if there was another color lying under the color that you see. I tried to build all of these layers into the 3D landscape."

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