Plastic E-scapes 2017; Master’s Project 1
I came up with the name ‘Plastic E-scapes’ to explain my faux-realistic digital art depicting seascapes and landscapes from alternate worlds, planets, universes and dimensions, that invite the viewer to want to escape there! = ) Enjoy!
All these works started out as either scanned organic works or photographs I took of artwork’s I’ve made, then edited and tampered with it using photoshop = ) All these works were made recently in 2017.
Note: This was my first digital (using photoshop) faux-realistic landscape, as you scroll down you’ll notice how (in a matter of a few months) my photoshopped land/seascapes changed considerably.
The general primarily thought out picture of an island is of a location where a body of water surrounds a mass of land. In the case of an Oasis, however, this scenario is inverted, as an Oasis is the natural placement of a green island of water in a vast and vacant beige sea of hot dry sand. Crying ‘Land Ho!’ in salvation when sand comes to break the purgatorial blue loop, is the equivalent of falling to one’s knees at the sight of a vegetal gathering interrupting the recurring tones of ecru plains and dunes. Upon finding an Oasis our thirst for water and need for shade amplifies the sensory information we perceive as the desert’s scorching texture grows wetter. Trees and plants graduate from being recognized as ornaments in a landscape, to social figures gathered around a watering hole, becoming relatable and welcoming to the desperate human wandering the land of uninhabitable heat. If the desert is limbo’s final mile heading towards hell, an Oasis becomes the sanctuary of the living found by souls not destined for damnation.
When I wonder about unfound habitats and untampered with ecosystems I imagine the particles composing such locations would be larger than the average size, making them noticeable from a distance and visible to the naked eye. The Oasis’s earthly browns and greens characterizing its muds and wet sand, its trees and bushes, and its weeds is so vital that any other floral addition would look noticeably out of place. This digital piece is a photoshopped re-edit of an organically composed illustration, and exemplifies my work method as a mixed medium-appreciating and texture-based artist and kinesthetic learner. The use of double points of view alongside a plentiful utilization of textures, together create a visually informative map from which the viewer could extract more information and have a rounder understanding of the landscape.In desperate times our senses heighten; sound gets recognizably louder; our sense of smell becomes our advisor when our sight struggles to manage the overwhelming amount of visual information crowding in from rapid eye movements; taste is only relevant when our primary need is ingestion and the effectiveness of touch grows to be so sensitive that it begins to seem like the surfaces we make physical contacts with were produced using high quality raw materials. The finding of an oasis would be most valuable to the hot and thirsty so I decided to flatten this geographical happening and recreate it digitally in a way that seduces our sense of touch.
The Lost Dimension was meant to be a location that has somehow gotten lost from however it existed before. One can’t be sure if one’s looking at this dimension through an opening in the form of these greenish abstract stalactites and stalagmites, implying the sky is black and as mysterious as the navy orbs present in the distance, or if the strange greenish formations (the pair each at the bottom corner and the one going across the top) are a part of the lost dimension. What if the pair at the bottom are rock formations, parts of islands very near to central one? Going by that supposition then the blackness isn’t the sky but humongous distant mountains blocking the confusing dawn or dusk sky from ever reaching this setting. To me, this image captures in its calm, peaceful and yet slightly alarming form and emptiness, a morbid breath in the air.
The palm tree, a stylized and somewhat out-of-place, yet not entirely so, motif felt right to me. It exemplifies what becomes of a dimension when it’s lost, how very slowly but it begins to sporadically and randomly deteriorate, causing components that’ve always been in it, to look off. I loved that aspect of this motif.
‘Secret Cove’ is very peculiar and unique in its own way; in some areas of the picture the work seems 3 dimensional and “plastically’ digital-looking, but in other places, such as the teal-navy moonlit night sky, the work has a 2 dimensional, painterly, digital look, and yet this works for the overall picture. Initially, this was meant to be the resolved version of ‘Lost Dimension’, but towards its completion I had to admit that the image became it’s own version, no longer attached to its predecessor and deserving of a totally new title.
‘Sandbars’ was my endeavor to create an aerial view of a group of sandbars in the ocean, with the water deep but still clear enough that one could understand where the reef is. Moreover, I wanted to capture the movement of the ocean and the ocean winds that make the islands look like they’re flying onwards. This ocean needs to be deep blue but clear; the water should have an obvious direction with the occasional wave foams and it needs to be reasonably calm enough so that it would make sense that the viewer can see the reef. Though this image isn’t strange, in its simplicity it leaves room for meditation, and is invitingly plastic.
Ruins at Golden Hour
‘Ruins at Golden Hour’ has a double meaning. The literal meaning is clarified by the setting the scene takes place in; the golden yellow and orange lighting signifies that the time of day is at sunset. The figurative meaning of the title relies on the medical term golden hour, which is the first hour after a traumatic injury, when emergency treatment can be successful and the damage could still be salvageable. Thus, the title “Ruins at Golden Hour” serves as a message to my Arabic culture that no matter how many times the rest of the world insists on embedding the notion of irreparable damage and hopeless devastation, when speaking about our lands, we as a people will continue to resist this foreboding outlook by living in and rebuilding our countries. And on a more personal note I say: We will never follow in the tragic footsteps of the extinct ancient civilizations who before us, walked the lands we call home.
Odysseus was here
Clerici’s paintings and Bôcklin’s ‘Island of the Dead’ encouraged me to express my fascination with morbid undertones to a beautifully vacant seascape. When making ‘Odysseus was here’ I was listening to ‘Pompeii’ by Bastille, and though that song was about a city in the Roman Empire, I thought of ancient Greece and of the Odyssey Epic and its many tragic events. Since my E-scapes feel like something out of a dream, another planet, or another dimension, I was inspired by the mythos about the Bermuda triangle to come up with an alternative explanation to why Odysseus’s ship and crew were lost at sea.
My narrative doesn’t involve the Greek pantheon; instead, I imagined Odysseus and his crew unknowingly sailed through an active inter-dimensional portal to a sea in purgatory. As the years went by, putting them through perils and eventually tragically killing Odysseus’s sailors before his eyes, Odysseus found the portal again and passed through it, heading for home at last. Forever haunted by the trauma he put himself and his deceased companions in, a part of him had no choice but to latch onto that dimension for eternity, and thus, a part of Odysseus was left behind.
I put a ghostly stylized representation of a ship docked in cove, with no captain, crew, sail, or even a single oar to help get unstuck from this rocky enclosure. This ship represents the essence of the trauma and tragedy Odysseus and his men went through, both in my alternate version of the story as well as the real epic.
I’m aware I’ve used the terms ‘avoid’, ‘wary’ and ‘unsettling’, and according to my previous definitions of my E-scapes, they need to be enticing and inviting; however, if an image seems to hint at a forsaken or self-destructive atmosphere, of ghostly ships with no-one around, then this image would certainly be inviting and attractive to those, such as myself, with morbid curiosity. Here is a foreboding Plastic E-scape.
‘Tidal Pool’ was my first reductive E-scape when taking into consideration how its organic, original counterpart looked like. I purposely simplified this picture to maintain a meditative space and not distract from the icy cold, but refreshing, waters. As a result of my minimalist approach, this allowed the rock that cradles the tide pool to develop, or suggest, a persona unto itself. This rock is caring for something magical about its marble-like tidal pool and only it knows what may lay curiously beneath the ripples of its seawater stream. As I composed this image, I insisted on making a beautiful picture. I thought of Aphrodite’s myth of being born out of sea foam and in a shell, and wanted this image to tease the viewer by withholding wonderful news.
Even though at face level this is still an establishing shot, like ‘Sandbars’, ‘The Oasis’ and ‘Ruins at Golden Hour,’ it’s more than just a distanced aerial view of the scene, because to the viewer not only is this eye level view relatable, but he is intimately close with this sensitive rock and its fragile pool. This image invites a narrative because even though the rock dominates the foreground, coming in between the viewer and the glassy arctic sea, it feels like the rock is purposely doing so to shyly try to tell the viewer something about its little pool! It’s asking for the viewer’s attention, not expecting it.
‘Shy Sunset’, as its title states, takes place during sunset. It is an ordinary, horizon-based seascape depicting three islands, a sun setting, and a strange, larger other planet or moon. It also contains suggestions of an underwater city, like Atlantis, beneath the different depths of the ocean that surround the islands. I wanted to create a sunset without the loud and extravagant hues that usually fire up the sky and make a huge deal before the sun finally sets for the day. This sun sets without affecting the colors of the sky as the moon/planet stakes dominance over the setting, with pixelated stars encouraging its presence and claim.
‘Curious moon’ is the nighttime take on the ‘shy sunset’. The moon turns the sea almost into a transparent and reflective solid ground with its shine, also making the glowing sphere look like it’s falling into the sea.