Todd Baxter’s Stylishly Retro Sci-Fi Utopias

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Multimedia artist Todd Baxter has created a retro futuristic image series inspired by narratives of science fiction utopia. Long fascinated with the technology and physics of the Space Race era, with “Project Astoria: Test 01,” Baxter tells a story that revolves around the experiences of children growing up in a an Earth-like world that has recently been colonized. Baxter’s wife, Aubrey Videtto, is writing the story that the two created together. They hope to collaborate with other artists for the project, including a graphic novelist and musician, to further execute their concepts and designs.  Of this project, Baxter writes, “With Project Astoria, I wanted to play with that childlike hopefulness — that anticipation of humans finally mastering our existence and our technology. Especially as we were reaching such new and magical realities as landing on the moon, the late 60s was the perfect period, in my mind, to add in this alternate history where we all get together and say, ‘Hey! We could go colonize this other Earth-like place and really do it right this time. It could be perfect. Utopia!’ Of course, it doesn’t go perfectly, which is good. Otherwise, it wouldn’t make for a very fun story.”

Baxter’s process is quite involved, but it starts with him pulling out sketches for ideas he’s had. He then browses the images on his computer for environment and landscape images he’s shot, and begins to weave together these environments with Photoshop. Baxter then plans the next elements based on these general compositions, producing photo shoots of his subjects that he continues to compose and retouch with Videtto until each image is fully realized. The result is a playful narrative with an almost kitschy aesthetic, evocative of the likes of Wes Anderson. (via behance and bleek magazine)

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Nightmarish Illustrations By Alex Andreyev Are Straight Out Of The Matrix

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For the Surrealist digital artist Alex Andreyev, reality gives way to the nightmarish and imaginary; his grotesque urban landscapes are dominated by giant spiders, snakes, and eyeballs. Much like the world of The Wachowshi Brothers’ 1999 film The Matrix, Andreyev’s dreamscape is dystopian, seemingly operated by frightful machines that lurk in dark alleyways and within murky, polluted puddles. Like Neo before the rabbit hole, the artist sits at his computer, delving into his nightmares in search of psychological truths that transcend the laws of reality and escape the revelation of daylight.

By maintaining a graphic comic book aesthetic, Andreyev’s images compose a suspenseful, quick-paced narrative; clearly rendered with computer technology, his subjects appear like online avatars, their experiences symbolic of the human condition without directly mirroring it. Like the Surrealists Odilon Redon and Rene Magritte, the digital artist uses the image of the eye to subvert reality; as eyes wearing grotesquely tall top hats chase a helpless man down a dark, dank underground, we viewers are made to perceive our own eyes as villainous, to assume that what they record might not accurately reflect the world around us. Another sketch presents a man slicing his eyes open with a razor, the implication being that to truly see and to understand, we must endure pain and strife.

In this realm where the inner eye takes precedence over superficial vision, a wondrously dark and lonesome creative space begins to emerge. The spider, a symbol which harkens back to the work of Redon in particular, is used here perhaps to represent the isolation of introspection and of the endlessly complex imagination; as a man retreats into his computer, an arachnid nests in the darkness next door. Similarly, man and beast walk alone in the rain. Take a look. (via TrendHunter)

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Darren Wardle’s Day-Glo Dystopia

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Darren Wardle‘s paintings are bright and dystopian and evoke a sort of futuristic unease. There are disruptions within the formal elements of his pieces, like dripping, smeared, or seeming explosions of bright colored paint that call attention to the instability of form. I am drawn to the technical skill of the buildings’ architectures contrasted with the artificiality captured with the use of the saturated, day-glo color palette. Wardle is from Australia, but it was during his residency in Los Angeles that he became inspired by the city’s landscape, and created these stunning pieces.

According to Art Collector, Wardle says his work is “meant to be both beautiful and terrible…My work is basically what I see, taken to an extreme. I’m always looking at things through a dystopian prism, but I’m hoping it won’t turn out that way.” His artist statement elaborates, “The points where analog and digital technology meet in painting are similar to where the natural and the synthetic meet in our everyday experience of constructed space. The structural disintegration, or renovation, deployed in my work embodies a generalized anxiety about architecture under threat from an unspecified force, be that natural or man-made.” Of his portrait painting series titled “Head Case,” Wardle explains, “There is a connection between the psychological interior and representations of interior space. At a subconscious level the room is a projection of our own skin and is a metaphor for the interior self.”

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