Kim Laughton

Sweaty Holograms interviews Kim Laughton

I was exploring your archive in attempt to understand your evolution as a digital artist, which led me to some of your earlier 2011 designs. I’d describe them as glitch, and some which were emulating emerging trends in internet subcultures at the time. I have seen your art used by many influential net personas, i.e. Zain Curtis for Total Therapy and Ben Aqua for #AFTERLYFE. Do you feel as if you were appropriated by internet subcultures because of your aesthetic or was your goal to emulate the aesthetic better than anyone else to achieve the status you have today?

Much of the earlier stuff was created for a night some friends and I did in Shanghai from 2010 onwards – it was very cyberpunk, and so glitchy lofi 3d felt right (both for flyers and live visuals). There’s probably some zeitgeist here – I started using Tumblr fairly late on, and it was really exciting seeing other people thinking along the same lines from all over the place.

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So I’ve already asked you if you used stock OBJs, which you said you do. Do you view OBJs as uncited pieces of art free for appropriation? If so, do you view your own art in the same way?

In most cases I don’t look at stock 3D as art in itself – the perfect stock model isn’t a creative thing, it’s a clone of the physical thing it mimics. Using a stock model of a table or radio in a render is fairly similar to using a table or radio in a studio photograph.

When creating something do you base your artistic ideas around OBJs that already exist, or do you often challenge yourself to create fully original content? At times do you feel as if your artistic imagination surpasses your technical skills in graphic design programs? And if not, why don’t you make your own 3D models?

There is quite a bit of stock out there, so it’s rarely a limiting factor. It depends a the work, but in most cases I have an idea for the scene and then add objects that fit. Certainly there are occasions where I’ll need something specific that I can’t find, and I’ll then usually model the thing. I don’t have aspirations to make everything in a scene myself.

The more I looked into your artwork the more designs I see of human form, and not just the human form, but also object protrusion, literal human deflation and 3D realism. What makes you so drawn to the human form and object protrusion?

It depends a bit on the circumstances. I like using people in ways that would be physically impossible to emphasise that impossibility – perhaps the more instantly recognisable an object it the more effectively it can be distorted?

Do you have any future plans with Timefly? Perhaps expanding the designs to different types of apparel? But also, in terms of collaborations, do you have an artist in mind? And are you currently working on another collection for Timefly?

I think TIMEFLY will always be that one cut, it’s well suited to the artwork and even when physical has a simulated surreal feel to it - also it’s nice seeing what different people do with the same design. Admittedly, it’s not something everyone would chose to wear! There are a number of artists currently working on designs and they’ll be coming out over the next few months.

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As the internet subculture evolves the music, clothes and art follow trend. Some of us imitate, emulate, cross-blend trends from months back and some of us stay complacent. As of now I would say there’s an over saturation of certain net aesthetics, not just limited to art, but also all things creatively connected to internet subcultures. While nothing new is emerging, and evolution has halted, everyone is looking at each other for the next trend to breakthrough. Do you think there’s some truth to that? How do you see the subcultures evolving in 2014? What direction will your art take in the next year?

Yes, there’s certainly some truth in that. As with most things that are created there needs to be some sharing, whether it’s conscious or subconscious - in this way layers of complexity can be explored and added. The thing peaks when every interesting angle has been covered and then inevitably becomes stale as components are repeated without imagination. The internet allows this cycle to take place at an accelerated rate. To focus specifically on the current wave of 3D perhaps we are close to saturation with the lofi/low poly look? I expect we’ll continue to see it throughout the year, increasingly offline and mundane. There’s still a huge amount to be done with 3D however, and as computers get faster and software easier we’ll start seeing more complex imagery made outside the commercial world. It’s a very suitable medium for talking about the world we’re in today which includes the net and related technologies.

Interview by Sweaty Holograms in collaboration with Sean East