Digital: Alter Mann

by Beauchamp Art

Alter Mann 01

Alter Mann

This is another 3D sculpture of an elderly, bearded man. Perhaps the digital sculpture appeals as a superior way of preserving the living, to embody them in a electronic form with greater depth than photographs, moulded from memory, rather than just the binary nodes of a light sensor in a digital camera. In the death of my grandfather I see death as a more familiar companion, even more so than with the passing of other relatives, now that I wear his coats, walk in his shoes, furrow the same brow, strain my eyes behind similar spectacles, and ache with the joints of a form more elderly than years should indicate.
By giving the dead a form the mind can make them inhabit, they are giving an appearance of life, an illusion of necromancy born into the beginning of the post-human epoch.

Alter Mann 02

Alter Mann is the German for ‘Old Man’, which is both a description of the figure, but also a reference to my grandfather again, as one who spoke High German, and frequently visited church, so ‘Alter’ can be seen as a play on words, deliberately confusing it with ‘Altar’, as in church altar. Also, a secondary trans-lingual pun is taking place, as to ‘alter’ is to stimulate a change in state, as the man ages and dies, he changes but remains constant, his post-mortem digitisation another change in state; the memory alters with its constant re-contextualising. Each incarnation in the form of a digital sculpture made from memory rather than reference to specific flat images could be seen to finding new ways of embodying his form the mind, remaining in a state of constant flux, constantly altering.

Unser Großvater unser im Himmel, dein Name werde geheiliget.

Alter Mann 03

In this sculpture I decided to compartmentalise the body more, though at this point I did not resolve to complete the rest of the body to the same level of detail as the head. This mean having a separate block for the head, eyes, neck/shoulders, ribs/chest, stomach/lower torso, pelvis/buttocks, thighs, shins, feet, upper arm, for arm, and hands. If I had the time, the hands would have been completed more finely, with each digit made of multiple sections, and the same with the foot, breaking up limbs into sections that move separately. However, the beard and hair were included in the main model, but should have been treated separately, especially if I wanted to animate individual moving hair follicles or hair clumps.

Alter Mann 04

This would enable me to rig the figure for rudimentary animation. However, as I did not construct the body building from the skeleton to muscles to fatty tissue to skin, it could not be animated very organically. However, it is still useful practicing modelling exterior surfaces, though if I want to create a better skin texture, I will be required to make more custom brush modes for the software than I already have done (primarily using two; one rough and uneven, the other being short parallel lines, useful for hair and wrinkle textures).

Alter Mann 05

Nevertheless, as I am not familiar with 3D animation software, this would be a fairly considered line of investigation, though there are various freeware package available, such as Blender, and rendering software (used for lighting, environmental effects, and further animating) such as Pixar’s Renderman. However, I shall not rule out using such programs in the future (once the basic principals and interfaces of any software are understood, one can simply apply the logic of other programs and similar devices to that software to effectively grasp its key facilities within a relatively short time frame. As I have experience with 2D stop-motion animation, 3D digital and physical sculpture, and video editing, then the only real issue is coming these alongside the unique spacio-dynamics of the 3D environment).

Alter Mann 06

Moreover, I did not digital paint the figure primarily due to time considerations, and the software, Sculptris, does not enable multi-layered texture mapping, but does allow the user to paint directly onto the model, rather than having to ‘unwrap’ the shapes and work on them flat. Hence I selected a somewhat flesh-like light clay texture (the more peachy tones looked bizarre with the hair, bear and eyes.