I started learning Photoshop before I knew how to properly start a computer. It was in 1997 during my first year in the university when a friend of mine who had a printing company showed me the program and how it worked. He had Photoshop 2.5 installed on a Windows 3.11 machine in his office. Just to give you a point of reference, the interface looked like that. For me, it was simply magic. I used to sneak into the office, scan printed photos, apply an Extrude filter and print them again, so I can hang them on the walls in my new apartment.
10 years after I was working with images containing hundreds of layers, spread on canvasses with stupefying resolutions. It was the climax of my digital imaging obsession and I was as interested in expressing myself creatively as in testing the limits of the processing power of my machine. My appetite for complexity turned to a fetish, which itself turned to an artistic philosophy.
There was a reason for my extremism. It was partly because of artistic insecurity. But the real one was my deep hatred for the prevailing “less is more” attitude of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I could always appreciate simplicity as a designer but as an artist I refused to be constrained by an aesthetic that was primarily developed to suit the practical needs of commercial advertising. I couldn’t articulate it that clearly at the time but I had the habit of engaging in all kind of disputes about it and they always ended disappointingly because it’s hard to be the one who moves against the current. That made me even more angry but also even more inspired.
I started the Trinity artwork in 2006 and continued to actively work on it for more than a year. Gradually, it grew to a 35 megapixel opus dedicated to my passion for music but that was only on the surface. Underneath, lurking in the cold recesses of my subconsciousness, was my almost sexual obsession with visual detail. I couldn’t get enough of it. Like a teenager who just discovered masturbation, I could use any excuse in my pursuit for digital pleasure. You can still sense it in this interview by Digital Arts magazine 3 years after. It’s an ode to Photoshop nerdiness and I play the central character. I think at that time, I could clearly choose Photoshop over sex, if of course someone was crazy or irrelevant enough to make such a proposal in the first place.
I revisited the artwork several times since then but I never showed it in its 35 megapixel entirety. The last time I posted a draft of it was in August 2007 on Flickr. As you can see from the description on the page, I had problems working on the file because my computer wasn’t powerful enough. Even today the Photoshop scratch file reaches 10 GB when I open it on my current machine. I guess those technical limitations gradually cooled my passion for it.
Computing power aside, I don’t think I will ever work on something so enormously complicated again. I’m a very different person now. I haven’t accepted “less is more” as my motto, not even a bit! I’d rather drown myself in turpentine than admit defeat in this battle but 6 years after I unleashed the force de frappe, I’ve learned to pick my weapons in a more economical way. And maybe that’s why I love this image. It’s a relic of the time when I was thermonuclear. Here it is, finished, in all its glory and for those brave enough to enjoy complexity for the sake of
compl pleasure, I am offering it as a print in my art store.