Maxime Dardenne was born in Belgium and studied graphic design and product design in Liege. Maxime now lives and works in London for a studio called Traum Inc where they specialize in ads for fashion brands using 3D software. Valeris Media was created in 2014 as an art project.
I’ve compiled a range of works from when I started to what I’ve worked on recently. The very first series of images I shared online are animated gifs of undulating water in a jacuzzi. The calm feeling of water perpetually moving was my initial dive into the online world. Last year, Terrel Davis and Evan Collins invited me to join an online group exhibition themed around the Y2K aesthetic. It was quite interesting to realise that my inspiration, which was a very intimate and personal idea of sensitivity in the technological era was matching their movement so well. I created these two futuristic/aerial flowers for the show trying to avoid the already strong clichés about Y2K. Most of the works that I do are made using computer graphics, giving me a certain freedom to generate shapes and colours that would hardly be possible in real life. Very recently I collaborated with Agnieszca Zimolag to work on icons for Laetitia Bech’s website. Laetitia wanted a selection of alien-like rocks, so I played around with sculpting software and processed it with the most contrasted and twisted textures I could make. That was pretty fun, I’d like to dig further in this direction in the future.
Pretty much everything that I do is generated by graphic processors, the tools I use only exist thanks to engineers and developers who have mastered the science of both computer engineering and software programming. Science is intrinsically part of what we do as artists nowadays, it is immensely inspiring to try and understand it, even if for just a minute. I’m attracted to the notion of “total art” which involves having awesome twisted ideas as well as a perfectly rational mind in order to orchestrate different forms.
A good balance between left and right brain allows you to be more independant and approach “total art.” If not, technology will help you out.
I have a love/hate relationship with social media. It’s amazing how easy we connect and communicate with each other and get to build a network with people we will probably never met. I love the possibilities it offers and the knowledge you get from all the content that’s being put out everyday. The Internet is truly our new school. But it’s so convenient sometimes that for a good number of us, social media becomes the end goal. As an artist, I think isolation and introspection will always be your best friend and cutting the wires to this world is something I do often, even just to center myself and make sure I’m going in the right direction. You better have a very good idea of who you are if you want to make a career out of art and it takes some badass therapy to achieve that. Also I don’t believe in numbers online, likes and followers don’t mean anything, not even success. I think it will take a long time before our generation gets over it.
Strangely, I get inspired by images that don’t have much to do with science and technology. I enjoy a lot of paintings and contemporary art that looks spontaneous and organic. It relaxes me to even look at rough drawings. I think the closer it is to the wildness found in nature the more I am inspired by it. I could spend hours looking at botanical drawings for example, there’s so much happening in nature and still it feels soft and soothing. I also find myself looking at fashion shows, unedited as possible so that you can get into the vibe of a whole collection. The motion can be quite hypnotizing, in a good way, then you add patterns from a designer like Dries Van Noten and you get really dreamy. I’ve always been too shy to point a camera at someone so I use my energy on virtual objects, if not 3D human models.
This project was based on a virtual persona that I called Valeris, like a game character. Being inspired by video game characters such as Jill Valentine from Resident Evil, Reiko Nagase from Ridge Racer or Alyx Vance from Half Life, I created a virtual environment around Valeris. So video games are definitely an art form that drives my work.
It’s gonna sound crazy but I received a message on the day before new year’s eve 2016 from someone that had a major epileptic seizure because of one of my gifs. That person had to go to the hospital and it basically ruined his/her 31st of December. I immediately deleted this gif and sent a public message to apologize and said it was never my intent to provoke such a bad reaction. It’s kind of tricky on the internet to warn about flashing images when it is just a gif being shared all over the web, so from now I won’t be sharing any flashing gifs in respect to people subject to epilepsy.
It can be quite technical sometimes and there’s no traced route for what I try to do so I realised that I should deal with imperfections. When it gets really stuck and I can’t find a direct solution, I go away from my desk and try to have conversations with friends about something completely different. So when I get back to it, I can look at it from a different perspective and hopefully unlock the situation.