Mind-bending Tales of Digital Elasticity
MIND-BENDING TALES OF DIGITAL ELASTICITY
Curious scenes abound as digital artist Chris LaBrooy toys with the laws of nature and rational in playful scenarios of familiar objects and a generous stretch of the imagination. Rendered in hyperreal computer-generated clarity, his virtual car constructions showcase impossible contortions and madcap antics. Iconic automobiles slide and slice (in two), twerk and flip their way through a bright day.
It comes as no surprise that LaBrooy is a keen car enthusiast. When he is not working on graphic design campaigns and editorials for clients such as Apple, Porsche, Nike, Jaguar, Citroen, British Airways and Time Magazine, he can be found joy riding around Scotland, where he is based, in his hybrid Cayenne or hitting the track in his Cayman GT4, both Porsche no less. “I am fortunate to have a sports car which I can hoon around in and take to the race track. Working from home means that 80% of my car journeys are just for pleasure. No commuting!” he exclaims.
LaBrooy also unwinds in the surreal scenes of his car culture projects (“Auto Aerobics”, “911”, “Tales of Auto Elasticity”, “Cut and Shut” and “Tokyo” among others), which he says are, “about connecting interesting environments with different global car cultures, which range from Japanese classics to American pick-up trucks. I like to select locations and cars that are very sympathetic to each other so that there is something familiar to juxtapose with the surreal distorted automobiles.”
The compositions tend to feature, “historical classics because there is more romance with older cars”. They are set against environments rich in design, architecture and everyday references to provide a recognizable context on which to expand. “The environments,” he adds, “are usually memorable places that I am fond of, which act as a familiar reassuring stage for other more subversive elements.” In “911” 12 brilliant blue Porsches appear partially submerged in a Palm Desert pool, offset by pastel lit hues and mid-century design. In another image from the series, set amid clear blue skies, sunshine and palms, four pink Porsches are suspended in a free floating wire cluster above the front lawn of another fabulous pad in paradise. “Auto Aerobics” sees hollowed out and stretched Pontiacs interlocking on an inner city basketball court. While in “Tales of Elasticity” pick up trucks get flexible in deserted parking lots, highway stops and baron landscapes. The interplay of elements is perfectly in sync. They are suggestive of narratives, however baffling.
Equally mind-boggling is the fact that these scenes are purely digital simulations. LaBrooy draws on his background in product design and experience working with a range of materials to create objects and locations digitally from scratch. He finishes off the images with slick, hyperrealistic surface textures glossy and matt. The visual assortment of chrome, metallic, pop, plastic and concrete is sublime. His CGI dexterity is truly awe-inspiring. “Before I started working in the digital world I made lots of things in many materials. From casting glass, concrete and ceramics to woodworking, metal work and plastics. I am fortunate to have had tangible experiences working with a wide gamut of materials, which feeds directly into simulating them digitally,” he says. “CGI is freedom to do what you wish when you wish. I like the self-sufficiency of working in CGI because one can create and simulate all aspects of our material culture in digital form.” Maxon Cinema 4D, Vray, Arnold and Adobe CC are his tools of choice.
When asked about the enduring love affair with the car expressed through car culture and customization and how it fits in these days of environmental awareness, LaBrooy answers that coming from a product design background naturally: “I gravitate towards cultural progress and I think cleaning up the environment is a good thing. I own a hybrid vehicle myself and it is a joy to zip around town on electric power, in a very silent cabin.” As for the impact on car culture: “The only issue with tighter emission regulations is that it can numb the experience for certain categories of cars such as sports cars and exotics, which need the sound and emotion of big internal combustion engines. I personally think they should have less stringent emissions standards because there are so few of them and they spend most of their time in garages covering very few miles per year. Commercial, industrial and commuter vehicles that do hundreds of thousands of miles should have to meet stricter regulations.”
And no he won’t be switching to bicycles anytime soon. “Bicycles don’t strike me as particularly emotional objects. They don’t make interesting sounds or feature beautiful glossy surfaces. A car has so many unique facets, which give it personality and character,” LaBrooy says with the conviction of a true rev-head.
Words / Amber Grünhäuser
Art / courtesy of Chris LaBrooy