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Conversations with Young Artists: [2] Marcus Karamanolis, PC ’19

In this series, Providence College Graduating Senior and Studio Art Major, Jessica Rogers interviews each of her fellow graduates on the occasion of their thesis exhibitions.

I understand that you worked with Professor Bing Huang to create the Virtual Reality (VR) aspect of your show. Could you explain the process of making a VR world and how it compares to your process of making digital images? Do you see yourself working more with VR in the future?

The process of creating virtual reality environments and constructing the digital prints were actually very similar. Both these stages started off for me by building the creatures and caves in Z-Brush (3D software). This is when all the texture and color are added to the objects. The next stage involved me exporting the 3D models into either Photoshop – where I made edits for my digital prints, or into Unity 3D (Virtual Reality/Game building engine) – where I could then add other assets and begin to build a virtual environment for my creatures.

Understanding how these environments are built by professional video game designers was very inspiring and suggests an endless amount of possibilities in how big and creative they can be. I definitely can see myself working more with VR and hopefully at a much larger scale, and with the likes of Unreal Engine (another Virtual Reality/Game building engine) which is much more advance and capable of higher quality.

Your work is in part inspired by your homeland, New Zealand. Have you explored caves back home or elsewhere? How would you compare your finished pieces to these real-life caves?

I have been caving on multiple occasions in New Zealand and also in other countries which led to some of the inspiration for my work. The work is not a direct reflection to my actual experiences in the caves, but rather a starting point to how they could look. I wanted to create a sense of surrealism, so I attempted to make the caves seem more alien like than the ones I had actually been to.

What was the most rewarding part of creating your thesis exhibition?

This would have been to see the reactions of those who saw my work, especially the VR section. Many of these reactions I felt reflected my intentions; to create a surreal environment for people to find amusement in and explore through curiosity.

Your digital images seem to utilize a lot of color, unlike what you would find in an actual cave. These colors bring life and curiosity to your pieces. Is color choice important to you work?

If I had more experience with VR before my thesis, the color of the caves in the VR portion would have been a lot brighter. However the color shown in my prints was chosen exactly for those reasons. It wasn’t there to reflect actual existing caves, but rather ones that could exist and the strange life forms that might occupy them.


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