Dario Lanza. Render Art Portfolio
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“I'm particularly interested in experimenting with the folding and bending light, and the digital medium provides the perfect scenario to recreate that phenomenon.”


Vision number 08 (detail) · caustic, in optics, is the envelop of light rays reflected or refracted by an external object.

I have spent 2012 experimenting meticulously with the bending and deforming of light, the light deformed by a transparent object, and the emotional effects it provides. For this project, I reduced objects and volumes to the minimum possible, and let the light to be protagonist. In these visual essays light is distorted, refracted and bent, and this deformed version of light interacts with the space around- revealing it and some sense also deforming it.
Although the image is entirely artificial –it was generated by a 3D program– it comes from the accurate recreation of the natural phenomenon, mimicking the real conditions up to its final consequences. A 3D object was needed in the scene, made of water or glass (or at least, made of digital water or digital glass), but it stays out of field, where not visible. And so the work focuses not on the object itself, but the consequences of it. The transparent object always starts as a sort of giant water drop to which I then make organic deformations, until it casts asymmetric and irregular caustics. It is a very exciting and delicate process, as any tiny movement of a vertex on the original shape causes dramatic distortions of the beams, and a different pattern of light. It is a deformation process, but also a meticulous rejection process, as only very few of the transformations end up in a caustic pattern with the serene, challenging and suggestive appeal I'm interested in. I also play with the index of refraction of the glass body –this is the physical feature responsible for the light bending inside a transparent object– causing completely different patterns depending on the substance.
Playing with these unusual ingredients –the deformation of an intensely illuminated transparent object, and the index of refraction of the substance it is made of– I have absolute control over the deformation I'm causing in the light beam. The resulting light, sometimes boosted as a strong highlight –like a sort of water sun– and sometimes bent in delicate and subtle aerial beams, generates a strong but silent image. Refracted light, that moves in abrupt and delicate movements, is spilt across the space in an intriguing, beautiful way.
This beautiful light is cast over a rough surface and reveals all its imperfections while it is spilling over it, like a transcendental light over an imperfect, coarse world. Paradoxically, the only way to perceive the spectacular folding that is happening of the light medium is due this rough, solid and rigid surface, without which it would be a completely invisible phenomenon.

Technically, to achieve this refined appeal, I had to develop a very specific workflow, forcing the rendering software in entirely different ways from how it is designed to work: deconstruct the render process into its elemental components, reject some crucial information –like the direct light contribution– and preserve just certain secondary components –like the indirect and refracted contribution on the scene. This custom and unique procedure, never used for regular purposes and impossible on non-digital media, provides me with full control over the resulting aesthetic, allowing images that retain a certain enigmatic appeal, and despite being digital they look familiar, half the way between realism and abstraction.

Vision number 04 (detail) But the most revealing element is not the spectacular light shine that catches the attention first: The only physical presence populating this space are some tiny objects –stones, cylinders, monoliths– primitive structures like totems, the first structures of man, timidly spread here and there, that induce a sense of eternity and spiritual experience. In all these images the idea of silence and eternity is present, the small scale and the massive scale, a quiet apotheosis that confront us to eternity, with references moving from ancient rites to landmarks on contemporary culture like Kubrick, offering us a new look –through digital eyes– at an everlasting matter.

The random movement of these shapes and their subtleties invite an extended and calm scrutiny. The fascination of these images is in their many nuances and in their intriguing beauty, leaving a stimulating impression which we feel obliged to interact with.

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