Saturday, August 02, 2008

Back In The Future

I’m leaving on vacation this week to spend time in interests outside of, but synergistic with my day job. I’ll be in Colorado, taking in the sights, sounds, and steers. (One of my all time favorite steak houses anywhere in North America is just outside of Denver. They bring an unsurpassed passion to what they do. You know a steak house is passionate when they burn down to ground one night during dinner, and rebuild. Twice.)

I’m going to be displaying some of my artwork at an exhibit that focuses on science fiction art. Being a facilitator of innovation in new technologies across many fields of science, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve always had a fascination with the future. Space travel, ray guns, immortality – they were the standard fare of many children like myself who were slaves to late 1960’s pop-culture. We were the first generation to be truly sucked in by television (and even saw colors on occasion). We let our brains get rotted by degenerate media executives who tried to convince us that technology was cool, science was empowering, and commanding starships was a great way to impress babes.

Forty something years later, I’m still waiting for my starship, but I did pretty well taking some of the other lessons to heart (and leaving one of them back in the ‘60s). Along the way, I‘ve crossed paths with many inspirational people. I’ve discussed the physics of tachyons with Isaac Asimov, the snows of Mars with Arthur C. Clarke, and the ethics of nuclear energy with Carl Sagan, to name just a few who have fueled my interest in the future.

I’ve also had a passionate interest in visualizing the future. Wizards of the silver and small screens (including The Wizard Of Speed And Time) have been lifelong personal influences and sources of inspiration. With advances and steep price drops in computer technologies (both hardware and software) I’ve been able to find a medium beyond the limits of my stick figure talents to try my hand at creative visualization. I’d like to share a few of my works (some of which will be on display next week in Denver), and the back stories behind them. (You can see larger versions of these images by clicking on them.)

"Maybe It Needs A Little Love"


Being smack in the middle of the 2007 holiday season, I found myself asking, "What if Charlie Brown went looking for a Christmas tree offworld?", and after a while, this was the result. This was actually the first image I produced with one of two 3D visualization packages I had purchased earlier that year.


"Phobos - 1912"


A "rare" surviving photograph from a failed, top-secret terraforming project (circa 1912) on Phobos, using polar ice from neighboring Mars to flood portions of the surface. There's probably a half dozen influences in this image including tips of the hat to Torchwood, The X-Files, and just about anyone who's imagined space flight with a V2-styled retro rocket. I learned a lot putting this image together, both about the tools I'm using, and in composition.


"Here For The View"


Break out your red and blue 3D glasses. This is a 3D anaglyph study of a flying saucer. I designed it in the simplest (i.e. cheapest) way possible, the way a model maker on a 1950's budget B movie might have built it (yes, its a ball inside a doughnut). Some of the reflections were particularly fun to incorporate, both on the edge of the saucer, and the multiple reflections in the dome. If you click on the image and view the larger size with 3D glasses, you can definitely see the saucer "pop" over the mountain range and the ocean. There are three perspectives I wanted to bring out in this piece - it was definitely a lot of fun (and took a ribbon at a recent showing in New York).

2 comments:

Sean Gleeson said...

I see the flying saucer popping out, but the rest of the picture is flat, right? I mean, there is no depth from the nearest mountains to the furthest ones.

Jim Belfiore said...

That's right. It was my first study. I choose different camera positions which approximated human eye separation. I played around a bit with shifting the mountains around depending on camera angle, but that made it look like the mountains were flying out of the water. Also, in the virtual space I defined, the mountains are both many miles away and miles high, which will also flatten them. That works great for a 2D effect but not so well for 3D.

Thanks!