Since its founding in early 2000 they have kept pushing boundaries in crafting 3D, building their very own visual universe. Berlin-based studio Zeitguised clearly blurs the line between art and commercial work. However continued exploration of their personal voice catapulted them into becoming true pioneers – a path that later attracted even more and renowned clients rather than the opposite. Today Zeitguised has formed a commercial arm ‘Foam studio’ allowing the other part of the studio to focus on experimental work.
Zeitguised’s work is difficult to describe yet visually irresistible. In one of their latest projects, Geist.xyz “handcrafted algorithmic textiles” are portrayed in dance-like movement. Its artistic expression feels realistic yet abstract at the same time – referred to by the studio themselves as “synthetic art”. Experimenting with algorithms and light simulations they remind us of the famous quote by Arthur C. Clarke – that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. Henrik Mauler, one of the founders of Zeitguised took time to elaborate with me on their studio and on virtual textiles and its potential futures.
Henrik – if aliens landed on earth, how would you explain to them what Zeitguised does?
ZEITGUISED is a conceptual design studio that explores the aesthetic potential of digital design and its poetic application in the materiality of the physical world. Okay, that doesn’t sound apprehensible for aliens.
Humans are a life form mostly on the surface of this planet that doesn’t know better than expanding the reach of their minds by refining their techniques and habits via repetition and variation. We’re some of them, making representations of a quasi-world, an extension of the human mind and its imaginations, a world that might not physically exist yet very much does via sensual experiences.
There is a clear voice in what you are creating. How does a studio of many people like Zeitguised keep a consistent aesthetic?
We are a diverse group of artists, commanding different aesthetics. Yet I think we share some sensibilities, so if we discover something new via exploration, we’ll try to tie it into our expanding own cosmos. We realized our common denominators are probably, on the one hand, an empathic approach that allows inanimate objects become beings that behave and speak through shape, colors and materials. on the other hand there is the love for tension, to unite elements that seemingly don’t belong together yet make for good aesthetic dance partners.
What is the most important key in making virtual textiles to look and feel realistic?
The relation of texture detail and simulation detail. There is no algorithm that makes this easier to achieve through automation yet, it’s still a manual art and craft.
What do artiﬁcially generated textiles have that real ones don’t?
The possibility to expand their character, which is one between a dynamic, living sculpture and a lifeless, passive drape. Suddenly there is the possibility to become a being, a life form, through this means.
Technology is advancing and in the future computers are likely to generate imagery that is today created by humans. Do you think an AI ever could create good art?
Actually, we entertain the daring thought that a sophisticated AI, much unlike the vulgar AIs that we talk of nowadays, might be capable of making art that is more powerful, mind-expanding and envelope-bursting than anything humans could ever conceive. We’re talking about an AI that is not modeled to resemble the human mind. Until then, the race is on for us humans to show that we can come up with the more unexpected concepts and aesthetics.
What client do you dream of a phone call from?
We had a couple of dream clients calling us which made us realize afterwards: we’re our own dream client…we just haven’t called ourselves yet. 🙂
On the other hand, our dream clients trust us and our creative potential and vast experience and want to see objects and products that are unique, unseen, unusual, exciting, emphatic and full of character.