Hello Morten, we are quite thrilled to have this conversation. In having a professional background in photography I feel that your views on something rather unusual will be quite helpful. Lately, I have been trying to put into words how three-dimensional renders possess an unreal embedded quality. In your view, what do you think this quality is, and can it ever be escaped?
Hey Andrew, likewise – thank you for having me! Yes, I know what you mean. There are some incredible people out there, making some hyper-realistic renders where I literally wouldn’t be able to tell if it was real or not – so yes, I think you can escape it – if that is what you want. Most often though, I don’t think the artists are trying to. In my personal work, I don’t strive for photorealism – for me, it’s more about finding a balance between the real and surreal. When I started doing 3d I realized that things like lighting and composition worked more or less the same way as with photography, but the big difference was, I wasn’t restricted by realism anymore. So instead of trying to escape this embedded unreal quality, I try to embrace it and use it to create some of the things inside my head where photography just doesn’t suffice.
I have read of your fondness for dreams and the visual manifestation of meaningful emotion. What is special to you about the unreal, and which types of emotional responses are you generally seeking to produce and why? In your interview with Felicity over at Forbes, you said, “if I can get the viewer to feel something, that’s the greatest compliment”, and this statement struck me. Do you as an image-maker begin with a set of desired feelings as goals, or do these emerge as a result of you pouring yourself into the medium?
Yes, I love dreams and I love dreaming, both when I’m asleep and when I’m awake. I get inspired by dreams, but mostly the ones we have when we are awake. My art is not frames from my own dreams though – I wish I could say I dream of clouds and sunlight, but the truth is that it’s much weirder than that 😉 I guess you could say that I’m very emotionally controlled when creating. I rarely aim for a specific emotional response, but in the process, I try to let my own emotions set the course – If I can feel it, I’m on the right track. Also, I love how viewers interpret and find meaning in my work in very different ways. The unreal, or rather the surreal really fascinates me because, without the boundaries of realism, I find it possible to truly go with the flow and let the art evolve on ‘its own’.
Your renders are so immaculate that they become virtually indistinguishable from reality. Can you briefly walk us through your process from concept to completion, adding in any important details that help you attain these qualities?
Thank you. I’ll try, but to be honest it’s a bit difficult – I have to admit that I’m probably not the most structured guy and the process is very rarely the same. Usually, when starting up on a new piece I have very little planned out if anything at all. Lighting is an important part of my work, and often I start with nothing more than an idea of how I want the light to be, and then I play around letting the idea evolve along the way. If I had to break it down a bit, I often start with blocking out a very simple scene and then begin to create the light and atmosphere early on. At some point when the balance begins to feel right, I proceed to add additional details and elements, adjusting light and composition along the way. In the end, I adjust the textures and add small details. I’m all for simplicity but also believe that God is in the details. Again, I really enjoy experimenting and going with the flow, so this process might as well be totally different.
The lone cloud, nature indoors and the still life are recurring themes in your work. What is it about the cloud, inward nature, and the still life that call you back to them?
Yes, for me these elements have a very unique surreal and dreamy quality. In my opinion, the cloud especially can represent so many different things, from inner consciousness and peace to doom and depression. This makes it possible to create pieces that are very open to interpretation.
Many artists while creating become entirely absorbed, lose track of time, and find a sense of fulfillment not easily felt elsewhere. What do you think it is about creating that provides us with so much benefit?
Yes, I can totally relate to that. Sometimes I look at the clock and realize I’ve been moving the sun around for two hours, so I think it’s safe to say I also lose track of time sometimes. But the thing is, those hours are all worth it, because reaching a point where you’ve created something that you find beautiful, even if it’s just light and even if you are the only one that thinks so, that’s a very unique and priceless feeling if you ask me.
Have you considered creating for AR or VR? If you were invited to and had the time to make an immersive virtual space, what do you think this project would resemble.
I don’t have a lot of experience in this field. I did a project for Adobe a while back and their new AR app Aero; super fun and challenging project. If I was to create a virtual space, I think it would be some kind of surreal world you can travel through like a lucid dream, and there would probably be both inward nature and clouds 😉 If you take FvckRender for instance, he created a super cool universe out of his art you can travel through.
Many of our readers appreciate new media and progressive art passionately, do you have any words for budding image-makers that could inspire or help them on their journeys forward?
Experiment, have patience and follow your guts. Chances are you are going to create a lot of stuff you will eventually look back at and think ‘what the f””” is that!?”, but if you reach that point you probably also created something awesome.
All images with courtesy of Morten Lasskogen