Digital new world

Table for Nine

It took Grant Anderson three months and an understanding of human musculature just to create the model for his 3-D animation piece.

It took Grant Anderson three months and an understanding of human musculature just to create the model for his 3-D animation piece.

You haven’t heard of a movie called Cold Breed, but after seeing the poster, you’d surely want see it. The poster has sort of a La Femme Nikita feel. The head of a brusque-looking girl with buzz-short hair and a pierced lip stares from the upper left corner, movie title to her right. The poster’s foreground has an Armageddon feel: Cars that look abandoned and skeleton-like contain silver skulls. The movie could be about zombies or the end of the world or punks from the ghetto or all three.

Actually, the movie isn’t real. It’s the creation of Aubrey Mennella, an art student at Sierra Nevada College. This isn’t your grandma’s digital art piece, and neither are the pieces of the other seven students and their digital arts professor, Susan Gold, who make up the SNC show Table for Nine.

“I had eight students this past semester who were all extremely talented,” Gold said. “Sometimes you feel lucky just to get one student whose work is really great.”

The show was intended to be a student-only show where the digital arts department could show off its artistic prowess and create interest in a field that has more real-world applications in our technologically advancing world than, say, sculpture or painting. The students invited Gold to participate, as well. Table for Nine is also intended as a fundraiser for Incline Village’s Parasol Foundation.

“The exhibit is an opportunity for students to have their first art show, as well as for the SNC Fine Art Program to become more active partners with the community,” said Gold.

Artists include Mennella, Gold, Grant Anderson, Sarah Myers, Ya’el Saggi, Gro Kvinlog, Carrie Morrone, Sandy Nicholson and Nathan Tracy.

Saggi’s pieces are the simplest of the bunch and are aesthetically charming because of it. She has seven pieces in the show, four of which are representative of the four seasons. The colors are bold, almost fluorescent. In the summer piece, the colors transmute from orange at the top to green at the bottom, and three dandelion puffs are the only images. The winter piece ranges from light blue at the top to dark blue at the bottom, and leaves fall across its surface.

“I was taking from the Asian style of art,” Saggi said, “the way they package everything and their animation—that simple style.”

Myers has a series of pear-inspired pieces in the show, the group of which is titled The Produce Section. The witty piece “Scarlet O’PEARa” shows a pink pear lying at the bottom of a flight of stairs. In “PEAR-cheesi,” pears play Parcheesi in a manner very similar to the mutts in C. M. Coolidge’s dogs playing poker piece. In fact, there is one dog player at the end of the table, a sole beast among fruits. Another clever quip.

“It’s not the most deep and moving series I’ve done,” Myers said. “It’s meant to be silly … The puns, as silly as they are, I have fun with them.”

Anderson has the one 3-D animation piece of the show, digitally impressive owing to its difficulty. On opening night, the piece was displayed on a 10-by-10-foot screen. If you’ve seen Animatrix or Final Fantasy, you have some idea of what a digitally created character looks like.

Anderson’s piece starts with a classic number countdown and then a thickly lashed eyeball and fast-moving clouds come onto the screen. The primary focus of the five-or-so-minute film is a nude woman dancer. The virtual camera draws near, then far away, then back in. The woman leaps, dances, does back bends and other tai chi-type moves. Her stage is an old church-like structure, full of pillars, not unlike the halls of the underground dwarf city in Lord of the Rings.

“I wanted to show off my ability to do character animation," Anderson said. "More than an art piece, it’s something I’d put on my resume. It’s what I want to do in the work force. It’s just preparation."