First, a disclaimer: the Emperor of Antarctica, whose real world moniker is Christian Zander, hopes that viewers of his artwork can take it in strictly as a visual experience. Its accompanying narrative is inconsequential. So, by pegging his latest pieces as “walls of digital ice and chaos,” we’ve perhaps crossed the line of his intent.
Except that, he wouldn’t want it that way either. Feeling himself trapped between the institutionally-opposing worlds of fine art and graphic design, his aesthetic is a software-heavy extension of his artistic philosophy: that the intricate forms that allow for the bigger pictures we rest our gaze on need not always be boxed in by convention. If the viewer does as we have done, Zander welcomes it, as he hopes “they make up their [own] completely unique narratives to fit themselves.” Just as long as they’re not doing it for the sake of a preconception.
Apart from the work he does by day as a graphic designer (which includes personal commissions), Zandr maintains the blog House & Bike. Calling it his “dumping ground,” he follows the peaks of “technical and form-founded curiosities” to their transcendent limit, as you can see below.
With his somn and time series—the walls of digital ice and chaos in question—he follows his exploratory curiosity by way of an experimental approach. Using software programmed by his girlfriend, Ana Carlan, according to his specifications, Zander “painted” the somn series through the careful manipulation of batches of noise—a combination of linear interpolation, lattices, and random value.
Building off of somn, time is a more elaborate undertaking.
The initial noise pieces are then run through a pixel sorter, which flips a pixel’s placement according to set specifications, and a custom program invented by Zander and his girlfriend Ana Carlan, known as a gradient map shifter. In simple terms, the shifter allows its wielder to gradually shift swatches of an image’s color according to the range of a gradient that spans several thousand colors. The results can be magnificent.
So whether you see sheets of ice or just the perfect arrangement of abstract forms for your weekly wallpaper, one thing remains the same: it’s really all up to your eye to decide what it sees.
Images: Christian Zander