Very honoured to have worked on the environments for this project by film maker Lisa Jackson, with Jam3 and the Nation Film Board of Canada. It will be shown for the first time next week at the Tribeca Film Festival Immersive program in New York. The world we created is partly an adaptation of my Hypnagogic City piece, set in a future Nathan Phillips Square.
A quick image rendered between gigs, a spinoff from Hypnagogic City.
This is from the second iteration of Hypnagogic City, which will be on the gallery wall just in time for the opening reception on March 9th. It's been a big technical challenge getting these images rendered on time!
My new exhibition this March at Red Head Gallery in Toronto features a follow-up piece to "Future Toronto?" The show runs from March 1st to the 25th.
"Hypnagogia is the experience of the transitional state from wakefulness to sleep. Mental phenomena that occur during this "threshold consciousness" phase include lucid thought, lucid dreaming, hallucinations, and sleep paralysis.
Starting with a publicly available digital model of Toronto, Mathew Borrett has crafted a haunting tableau of the city's civic center as might exist in a parallel universe. We glimpse a present day through a new lense: one constructed of an accretion of imagined structures and the decay of old ones. The prevalent theme is the relationship between the built environment and nature. Taking a maximalist approach, the viewer is presented with a hyper-detailed scene that invites repeated exploration."
The image below is a detail from "Hypnagogic CIty".
A fun illustration job was this one for New Scientist magazine recently, . It's about the possible existence of nearby planets like Earth, but larger, more stable, and more lush. It was a challenging thing to convey succinctly. I ended up going with lots of detail, as per usual.
I'm late putting up notice here about a group show called "City of Dreams". Three large prints from my Hypernurnia exhibition are there, one of which is out in the lobby of the building. The show is in the First Canadian Place Gallery in the Toronto financial district until the end of April. Gallery hours are 11am to 2:30pm Mon-Fri.
I've had extra time to play with my Hypernurnia set lately, which has led to a steady stream of new snippets on my Instagram. I recently hit the 10k follower mark, thanks to Instagram featuring me on their list of Suggested Users! :)
At work I used to take quick modelling breaks and crank out a little building or some random structure. Usually I'd email it to myself and then dive back into work and often forget all about it. So I spent some time rounding up those old models, and came across a whole set of trees I also forgotten about. I like how they lend a different sense of scale than is found in most of images.
I recorded several hours of progress on the Hypernurnia series. I sped up the footage ten times and displayed it at the show on a loop. Below is a portion of it in three parts.
I'd been hoping to have this ready last year but technical difficulties prevented it. These have finally been resolved and I'm putting the final touches on it now. Limited edition prints will be ready to ship by December. If you'd like to order one now, please go to my store page. Prints will also be available in the Spacing store in downtown Toronto.
The original version had but one human visible, almost too small to see. When I started on the winter version, the scene looked really barren and lifeless without all the greenery, even with lights in the windows. I decided to add a lot more activity in this version. The fallen CN tower provides good shelter for a hockey game.
I'm fighting against time and a cramping hand to finish up three large peices that will be on display at The Red Head Gallery in Toronto from Oct 7th to 31st.
The opening night party is on Friday, October 9th, from 6pm to 9pm. Facebook event page here.
Below is a large detail from "Fever Dream City", which is 96" x 42":
Here's a couple of recent instagrams I posted. These are details of much larger renders which I'm not quite ready to reveal (until my show in October, at the Red Head Gallery in Toronto).
I plan to print some of them roughly 8 feet x 4 feet, at a crisp 300 dots per inch. This requires coaxing out renders 28,800 pixels wide. I'm constantly bumping into hardware and software limitations. Thankfully I can farm out these huge renders, as my machine alone would take well over a week to get through one.
The process of making these involves a great variety of stages and components, which range from drawing and virtual sculpture to something more akin to programming. I start with a set of elements numbering roughly 300 at last count, which include things like rocks, trees, buildings, abstract forms, etc.. These are then randomly scattered in vast numbers across a given terrain (itself possibly randomly generated).
Each set of randomized elements must follow a set of rules of my choosing. For example, I might say "rocks, you are only allowed to exist at altitudes between 15 and 23.7 meters", or "trees you may only grow on slopes of between 30 and 45 degrees", and so on. The system remains live, and I can change a single parameter and the random arrangement will shuffle itself into a new configuration based on the tweaked rules. I can view previews of the state of the system at any time. For every proper render I do, I flit past several variations that will never be seen again. After enough noodling I'll get to something I like, save the settings and do a medium-sized render (as in maybe 9000 pixels wide) which my computer can render overnight. Based on those renders I will opt to refine some of them further into much larger images. Along the way, the scenes acquire ever more computer-straining bulk, which makes the going quite slow.
On its own, any given procedural system based on a simple set of rules will tend to look obviously artificial. When combined with several others you start to get a rough approximation of something natural. If you look closely you will notice that the whole image consists of the same objects repeated in different configurations.
Working with randomness in this way leads to compositions that I would likely never contrive when drawing. Its more like photographing a landscape - an ever-shifting landscape that exists as a collaboration between myself and randomly emergent patterns - a landscape where I have full control of lighting, atmosphere, and other conditions.
The software I am primarily using to do all this is The Foundry's Modo.
This is a spin-off elaboration of the top-left corner of my "Future Toronto?" illustration.
A detail from same:
The following text accompanies my drawing "Hiding Places":
"There is a long tradition in art of capriccio, or architectural fantasy. But wheras most imaginary architecture rises up, the architectural imaginings of Canadian artist Mathew Borrett often go down, extending underground in fascinatingly detailed cutaway views of interlocking rooms, tunnels, stairways, and halls.
Borrett created many of the drawings in his "Room Series" with size-005 Pigma Micron pens on Stonehenge printmaking paper. His tones are built up with multidirectional hatching, creating rich darks and smoothing the appearance of texture. Those tones are contrasted with key areas of open white, which often represents the earth into which the artist's imagined spaces are carved. Simultaneously playful and spooky, his divided spaces always seem to lead back into unseen depths, leaving the viewer's imagination to define the scale of the structures. There is an Escher-like quality in the suggestion of mazes and secret places in which to get lost.
Borrett studied illustration at the Ontario College of Art and Design (now OCAD University), in Toronto, and works as a visual FX artist for the film and television industries. When he can, however, he takes to ink and paper and carves into the strata of his imagination, leaving intricate pathways to to a hidden world."
Recently I've been doing a lot of digital doodling with various 3D techniques and posting snippets of these on Instagram. I haven't done anything that I consider finished, though I need something for a group show with Red Head Gallery in June, which I'm taking as an opportunity to try something different.
Here are some recent snippets: