There’s a lot of shit on Instagram, and even some cool stuff. But for something to really catch your eye in the mindless scroll, it has to be good. And that’s exactly how I’d describe Clara Terne and her work. Fusing 3D graphic design with immersive technology, the Swedish artist makes bizarre—and undeniably hypnotizing—inhuman shapes. Through bright colors and layers of texture, Terne explores the tactile possibilities of viewing art online, blurring the lines between the user and their screen. Viewing her work doesn’t just take you out of reality, it brings you into the web—or at least her version of it. And I’m not sure I ever want to leave.
BULLETT caught up with the artist to talk abut biology and being a woman in tech. Read our interview and view an exclusive series, below.
Tell me about this series.
It is a series of three images—moments caught in time. I wanted to create tactile objects mid movement, defunct, and neither clearly man-made nor biological. I also wanted the color scheme to be pleasing but at the same time, somewhat annoying—I think that itch is interesting.
How do you describe your aesthetic?
I see my work partly as digital craft—there is a lot of tacit knowledge that goes into the process of making my work, both through knowing and handling the technology I work with but also in trying to experiment with it and push it. I’m interested in how, as we’re moving into a hyper-digital era, we can produce work meant for the screen that has a tactile and sensory feel, and that creates a sense of space and volume.
Where do you find inspiration?
There is such a speedy feedback loop on social media in terms of visuals, which is quite limiting, so I try to avoid that space as much as possible. I’m inspired by ideas, traditional craft, biology and the water glass on my bedside. But inspiration is tricky to explain.
What themes do you explore in your work?
I’m interested in the intersection between craft/materials, artifice and biology. I want to create crafted digital work for the age we live in—technology is integral and evolving with our times, so tech is present both in theme and in the medium, as well as the aesthetic outcome.
What do you get out of this medium you can’t get from others?
I’ve always liked owning my own process, and having control over the medium I work with. I find the 3D world quite enchanting for that—it’s such a broad tool where I as the creator, can have a lot of control and freedom to visualize my ideas within one medium. Involving processing power in my work also means being able to scale up through generative and procedural simulations. I really enjoy the collaboration with my computer—it feels like we’re sharing the workload.
What role have technology and the internet played in shaping what you do?
Technology is central to my work—not thematically, but technology is my craft, or material. It plays a heavy role in shaping it visually, too—technology is a dominant part of our culture these days, and its evolving so fast right now. I’m making images today that would have been impossible to do ten years ago on a consumer desktop computer—that contemporary aspect excites me, to explore and invent expressions of the present time.
You focus heavily on non-human forms. Is there a reason for that?
I get asked that a lot, and in my commercial work, I think it looses me jobs at times. But I’ve never had an interest in portraying humans—rather, the world we inhabit. I’d like to hope that my object-based work can still connect to human emotions and senses.
Do you consider your work ‘internet art?’ Or is it just art you share on the internet?
My work does not engage with the internet or internet culture thematically, but it’s mostly made for screen/digital viewing, so the internet is a very natural place for it to live in.
How do you think technology affects art?
Paint, photography, software and code are all tools experimented with and used by artists over time and driven by technological development—I think it’s hard to separate it from art. The exciting thing about working with the technology of today is the processing power and its ability to co-create with the artist on a greater scale.
What do you see as your role as an artist, especially during a hyper-political climate?
I’m a woman working in a really male dominated, tech-heavy field. When I got interested in cg, part of it had to do with wanting to explore an aesthetic that moved away from the quite masculine language that was there at the time. A lot of the time, people assume that I work with animators (male, I imagine) to do the actual production—as if I could surely not handle the tech aspect myself. I think these prejudices exist all over the male-dominated tech world. My choice to go into and navigate this field is, in that sense, a political act.
What do you want people to take away from your work?
Someone said she’d like to climb into my work and just sit in there on a hangover day—I think that’s really nice, and also tells me there is a way to create sensuous spaces on a screen. I think there is something interesting in the space that exists between creating visuals that incite a desire to touch and feel, and the digital medium making it impossible to do so. All the ‘oddly satisfying’ clips on the internet seems proof of the human desire to connect bodily to the digital world.