“Visualization always starts with a story”: Interview with visual artist Ceren Arslan
In addition to highly realistic rendering and accurate depiction of what the project will look like when completed, visualization has become a tool for communicating the mood and emotions that the architect has drawn. The use of mixed media in combination with architectural works, art, lighting, and often music has created a new genre of architectural storytelling that combines reality and imagination. And as the world immerses itself in NFTs, experimenting with cutting-edge technology to create digital environments, visualization can soon become a “new reality.”
ArchDaily had the opportunity to talk with visual artist Ceren Arslan about breaking out of architectural practice, explaining her creative process, the latest project EXIT, and the future of architectural visualization.
ArchDaily (Dima Stouhi): Tell us a little about yourself, what did you study, and how did you get to where you are?
Selenium Arslan: I am an architectural designer and digital artist currently based in Los Angeles. I work in buildings, interiors and digital spaces. I have four years of professional experience in commercial and hospitality projects, and more recently luxury homes. In addition to professional practice, I am working on my art project, EXIT. This is where I am now, but if I want to get it back a bit, I’m a proud Pratt graduate. I studied architecture at Pratt Institute. I worked for SHoP Architects and KPF for a short time until I recently moved to Los Angeles to work with Kelly Wearstler. Currently, she practices both digital architecture and interior design in her studio.
AD: What is the process of creating a visualization?
CA: From my experience, it always starts with a story. It’s like taking a picture from the screen. What are you trying to capture? What are you trying to convey with this visual? These questions also arise before the technical side. Once you’ve decided what to tell, any tool can help you achieve that. So I sometimes start sketching on paper, sometimes directly in 3D space. I’ve been using 3D as the main medium of design for about 8 years, so it’s quite natural to jump into it right away. Once the composition is correct, the story is aligned, and the capture angle is fixed, start tinkering with the material. In the course of professional practice, I have collected a library of photographs of real materials. This is very useful for surrealistic quality visualizations rather than using computer-generated graphics. The final touch is lighting and environment settings that match the visual mood for sunny days and foggy afternoons. Export at 300 DPI and you’re ready to publish.
AD: Which software / tools do you use to create your artwork?
CA: I mainly use Rhino to build space. This is software that is often used in professional practice, so I’m already well educated about it at school and use it as my main design medium. The visualization software has been greatly expanded in the last few years, so after flying around some of them, I noticed that I landed on Enscape for both work and art. Blender is another software I use for still images and I’m currently experimenting with it for animation. There are quite a few plugins for entering data into geometry and enhancing textures, but they can also be useful.
AD: Please tell us about your latest collection, Exit.
CA: EXIT is an art project that I have been working on for several months. Is it a collection of spaces that breaks the mundane aesthetics of the constructed reality? We’re expanding into creating digital environments and experimenting with advanced technologies for visual storytelling, so we can project the reality of the setting. Members of the collection offer a unique and unique alternative environment, such as the green suede walls of the basketball court, the soft solo church, and even a dinner table for 50 people. Each space causes an unusual reading of the context familiar to the story. They are ideas borrowed from reality, but put in a satirical or unexpected context to get out of it. They are the exit from reality.
The story begins as a concept to make fun of the audience with surrealistic aesthetics, rather than a computer created to make the scene more familiar. Scenes with mud on the floor and dirt on the stucco walls have real-life flaws that make us believe in delusional or genuine absolute reality. The space is euphoric, fun, and sometimes awesome looks strange.
I started working on this collection just a few months ago in response to the reality of architectural practice. It’s not that long, but from my professional experience long enough to understand the structure of the practice, the design process for buildings and projects is usually one-third of the total. The rest is execution. While working on a large project that needed to focus on day-to-day execution, these spaces became creative releases. I was able to “get out” of my reality without any functional reality, structural necessities, or financial restrictions. I created one space each week and challenged my own concept each time. When I had 10 spaces I really liked, I started sharing them on social media. Since then, I’ve taken this project as a creative journal and tried to incorporate my thoughts into the visual story.
AD: How do you express your artistic style?
CA: I think the closest thing is the visual realism that the image is displayed like a photo, not the one generated by the computer. I try to capture as much real-life flaws as possible to make the viewer more familiar. From floor mud to plaster stains, the material library is a collection of real textures, so your images will look as realistic as possible. Advanced technology has led to significant growth in graphics and lighting resolution within the industry, enabling surrealistic effects. I am adapting it.
AD: Where are your inspirations?
CA: In my opinion, good architectural practices come from precedent. The precedents are in books, travel and conversation. Understanding how the building helped that time and context will help you understand the author’s ideas. This applies to any tangible product ever made, from fashion to literature to art. I learn from my personal heroine / hero for inspiration. The creative vision of Valerio Olgiati, John Lautner, Rem Koolhaas, Ricardo Bofill and Diana Vreeland. I can keep a very long list, but today I am inspired by these individuals. One of the big concepts I studied very carefully is Michel Foucault’s ectopicity, which he describes as a transforming, inconsistent, disturbing discourse space. They are the world inside a world that “confuses” what is outside. Although there are few political or social references, EXIT has an escapist mood similar to ectopicity as a hindrance to everyday life.
AD: How does a degree in architecture contribute to a career like you?
CA: I’m actually an architect, but it’s true that I’ve been expanding my creative journey to different disciplines these days. EXIT has undergone amazing changes in collaboration, engagement, IRL activation, and visibility. I think having a solid foundation and background in architecture has freed this journey to find its various forms. When you are in school, you really learn all the tools possible to tell a story, in addition to any software, there is an intensive education on architectural history, literature, statics, and even graphic design. .. Every time I jump into designing a space, both at work and in art, I find that all that learning comes to the surface. I believe that digital space is a great tool to reach out to a large audience and put my vision out there to build a unique and consistent style. Ultimately, the dream is to bring these spaces to life in many ways that are unthinkable at the moment, such as homes, spas, destination churches, and experiences. So I have a firm grasp of the architect’s self.
This article is part of the ArchDaily topic: the future of architectural visualization, proudly presented by Enscape, the most intuitive real-time rendering and virtual reality plugin for Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD, and Vectorworks. Enscape plugs directly into modeling software to provide integrated visualization and design workflows.
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