“Yesterday, an immaculate replica of Ambrosius Bosschaert’s Vase with Flowers in a Window (ca. 1618) appeared to come alive at the Frick Collection. Like a talking painting from Harry Potter, the flowers swayed with the wind and the daylight in the background grew brighter as time passed. Morning dew on the flowers evaporated. The water level in the vase slowly diminished. A snail in the lower-right corner of the composition emerged from his shell and leisurely inched his way out of the frame.
The work, titled Transforming Still Life Painting (2012), is a looping, 3-hour animated film by British artist-duo Rob and Nick Carter. The first digital artwork to ever be shown at the Frick, Transforming Still Life Painting simulates the effects that 24 hours of real-life elements—water, sunlight, wind—would have had on Bosschaert’s flowers. The film depicts the scene through a modern lens, just as Bosschaert’s original materials reflected his own time. “Computer-generated imagery is our form of reality,” says Nick. “This is what we see everyday.”
To complete the film, the Carters enlisted the help of MPC, a visual effects company whose recent projects include the films World War Z and Life of Pi. First, the team created a 3D model of Bosschaert’s composition based off of a high-resolution scan of the original painting. Then, they began the animation process.To get the effects just right, the artists and digital animators studied time-lapse videos of growing plants and moving insects, and created many of the animations by hand. In total, the work took more than 3 years and 5,000 hours of labor to complete.” (Art News)
Although I’m not interested in creating an animation, these works by Rob and Nick Carter portray the same kind of message I’m aiming for with my own work. These works bring to life the idea of Vanitas – where pantings are a snapshot of time and the viewer is left to guess the rest, the Carters’ work fills in those gaps.