Posted: January 29, 2019 -
Dimitris Ladopoulos is an art and visual director based in Athens, Greece. He uses multiple digital platforms to create art and tell a story. His chosen art form is a natural progression from his early passion for game visuals, graphic design, motion-graphics and cinematography. In recent projects Ladopoulos has used algorithms to subdivide his favourite artworks using 3D animation software Houdini. Here, we talk to Dimitris who describes his working technique, what motivates him to make digital art and past and future projects.
Hello Dimitris, thank you for agreeing to speak to us today.
Have you always been drawn to digital art?
I have always been drawn to the combination of different mediums to tell a story. Digital, being a relatively new medium, has inevitably drawn my attention.
Can you talk about your art and what inspires you?
It is not easy for me to talk about my own work. At times I have a clear idea of what I want to express but other times, and this is what I enjoy most, I let myself discover new paths through research, development and exploration. I like to explore the interplay of seemingly opposing/contrasting subjects. My main focus points are Arts, Science, Humanities & Philosophy but inspiration can come from anything really.
For your recent project “Portraits” you created an algorithm using Houdini 3D. Firstly, what made you decide to use this software?
It is a unique piece of software. It gives you access to your data in a way no other software does. Although traditionally used for film visual effects, I like to experiment with it and use it in a way that suits my needs and ideas.
Can you talk us through your process and how you created the algorithm?
For this project I wanted to experiment with a contemporary view of old masters’ paintings. Inspired by information visualisation methods called ‘Treemapping’, I created an algorithm that takes a painting and subdivides it based on the density of information of the original painting. The more information there is the on the original, the more it is subdivided and thus the smaller the rectangle elements. The less information, the larger the rectangle area. You could say there is a similarity to the painters’ approach of using broader and finer strokes. The result is a mosaic of rectangles that highlight the subtle changes in the colour palette of the original. In terms of creating the algorithm I think it’s similar to any problem-solving task. I break it down into small logical steps and tackle each one at a time. At the end all steps are combined and gives me the desired result.
Why did you choose to tackle a traditional genre such as portraiture?
I wanted to combine contrasting elements. On the one hand you have the old masters’ portraits of historical figures and on the other hand you have the digital/algorithmic recreation process. I think the contrast between analogue-digital, emotional- programmatic, old-contemporary made the idea intriguing for me.
Using the algorithm seems to add another dimension to your works. What effect were you aiming for?
The original portraits are painted with such finesse, such subtle colour variation that make them feel almost alive. The aim for me was to take these classic paintings, strip away as much detail and colour and use only a minimum amount of information to reconstruct them. The interesting part was to try and subtract as much as possible, while retaining some of the paintings original qualities.
You use well known masterpieces as a starting point in many of your works – have you come across any restrictions or copyright laws?
So far no. It’s interesting because I don’t actually use any part of the original painting in the final result. I use the originals as a starting point to sample colours. The originals can be very low resolution, but the output of the algorithm creates a totally new piece of very-high resolution artwork.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of digital art?
For me it’s one more medium that people have access to. I think it makes it easier for more people to get involved. At the same time, it’s not restricted by physical laws and can grow with one’s own imagination. One of the disadvantages for me is that it is not tactile (yet). Currently only vision and hearing can be used to evoke emotions from the viewer.
You mix different techniques such as live action, stop-motion animation, CGI, motion design and photography, how do these come together in your work?
It’s true, I like combining mediums and techniques that are not traditionally put together. I don’t necessarily view them as such. I use whatever tool I feel will help me paint a new window for viewing the world.
Can you tell us about any other medias or new technologies you hope to work with in the future?
Technology helps us to constantly invent new tools, both physical and digital. I hope I will be able to experiment with as many as time will allow. Immersive environments and augmented-reality are some primary examples.
And any future projects or collaborations you are planning?
There are a lot of discussions for some interesting collaborations. All I can say at the moment, is that I will be moving to the US in a few months’ time, to start work on some very interesting projects! Keep an eye on my website (Dimitris Ladopoulos) and social media (Instagram).
Image copyright: Dimitris Ladopoulos