Above: Ronen Tanchum, the Candies series
Ronen Tanchum (RONENTANCHUM.ART) – contemporary artist, developer, and interaction designer – works at the crossroads of art, technology, and interaction. Tanchum delves into the realm of human-machine interaction, examining behavioral patterns and replicating them in digital form. Through captivating art installations that bridge the gap between the digital and the physical, he employs technology as a medium.
The artist’s line of thought revolves around the juxtaposition of the digital and the organic, the conceivable and the impossible, the figurative and the abstract. His computer-generated artworks, presented across several series, offer an exploration of these dualistic concepts.
Tanchum brings his experience from the film industry, where he specialized in creating visual effects and 3D simulations. In his pursuit of creating believably realistic computer-generated images for movies, Ronen Tanchum often grappled with a paradox. He discovered that what appeared convincing to an audience did not always adhere to the laws of physics, while images grounded in realism were often deemed unbelievable. It inspired him to come up with organic forms within computer-generated images.
.ART sat down and talked to the artist about his background in film industry and artistic practice.
Let’s start with the question regarding your background. How have you started your artistic career?
I was working in the visual effects industry as a simulation artist. I was involved in creating some of the most iconic shots of huge blockbusters like Spiderman, The Great Gatsby, Alice in Wonderland, Transformers, etc. For 10 years that’s what I was doing and then I quitted the film industry and started focusing more on programming visuals. At first it was audio visuals and later – art, art installations and new media installations for festivals, museums and galleries. I started creating artworks just for the sake of the art and it’s been 7 years that I’m doing it. This is how I transitioned from being a 3D artist into being an artist. I’m really into connecting people with technology and their surroundings. My initial goal was to explore further the technologies and how I can use them in my practice in order to create artworks.
What are the overarching themes you’re working on?
My specialty in the effects industry was to create natural effects. I specialized in digitally creating smoke, fire, water, clouds, working with a lot of physics in my computer 3D practice. I’ve learned to digitally recreate nature. And this is something that was always a fascination for me. I’ve been studying fluid dynamics and mathematics in order to be able to understand how simulations work better, or how to play with different forces. Sometimes in film, what you do is you exaggerate the realistic parameters to something that’s a bit more compelling. So the shot would not necessarily be physically correct, but it looks impressive. A lot of these abilities to tweak and manipulate natural simulations is something that I still deal with in my works. And actually something that is a motif for me, in order to try and introduce into the digital and synthetic world organic behaviors, organic patterns, fractals and stimulations. Within my installation practice I am trying to connect humans and machines in a deeper way than computer, keyboard, mouse or a touch screen. I create a lot of installations where the interactivity is sensing the presence of a person or translating energetic activity into music. A lot of my works are around nature, technology, humans, interactivity, and how they all affect each other. I believe that technology will allow us to interact with machines, and especially AI – in deeper ways that we can’t even imagine. In every project I’m working on, I’m trying to design an interaction with a different type of machine. I feel that the world of interaction design between computers and machines is not explored yet.
Could you tell me a bit about the project Perach?
Perach is a collaboration with Eden Offer, an electric engineering graduate from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, where I’m currently teaching. His research was about plants and how to measure their inner electric activity. Eden collected data from a plant, and later on we made a visualizer to see how much the plant was active – for example, when it drinks water or being touched. We were receiving live feedback every few minutes. I took this data and created music and the visualization of the plant. When people were touching the flower, they were activating the visual component and the music.
We are also interested to know more about your project Rococo.
Rococo is a series of 500 artworks that are minted on the Tezos blockchain. It’s a fully generative project, which means that it was created with code. More specifically – with p5js, glsl and custom software. We wanted to create something that would feel as if a painter was very expressive. We took a lot of references from famous artworks depicting flowers. The idea was to make a code, which would help to create non photo-realistic flowers, but rather in an expressionist style. It’s generated from simple spheres, which are rotating and moving in a certain way. The code distorts it at some point, so that it almost looks like splashes of color. Each flower is very different: sizes of the flowers, the number of petals it has, the arrangement, the direction of the movement, etc.
Have you noticed that after the pandemic collectors and museums began to acquire more digital art?
I think that the shift is definitely happening. When I started my career, it was really hard to get any digital media exhibited or purchased by large museums due to preservation issues. I feel that they are resolved in a way. And also the awareness of consuming digital art as any other type of art has really changed. Many people nowadays consider owning a digital file. Cultural change has happened.
Your website is located within the .ART domain zone. Why have you chosen it? What was the main factor?
I think it caught my eye back in the day when it just started as something which doesn’t have to be explained. It is very clear that you are working in the art field. For me it was a way to distinguish my artistic practice from my other work and general online presence. It is a really good way for me to show my artworks online and my portfolio and it’s very obvious for everyone what it is.
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