One of the most pop spectacle works of Season II came to us from the glistening collaboration Shimmering Shadows Amusement Park by Maria Gudjohnsen & Sarah Banks. Their work will result in a series of 3D animations that explore feminine gender performance through aesthetics. The collaboration is fun to watch as they both have very similar and differing aesthetics and it's not often that you get to be behind the thought process of two artists on their internal experience and journey through with a specific visual direction.
How did you both come together to collaborate on this piece?
Me and Sarah met a year ago here in New York, we had seen each other's work on Instagram before. We instantly became friends and since then we have worked beside each other, she helps me with my projects and I help with hers. We have both dreamed about making an actual collaboration together but just never found the right project or funding, or even the time for it. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to make that happen for us.
What is the political background of your aesthetic discovery in this work?
Traditionally, femininity has been associated with certain aesthetic qualities, such as softness, delicacy, and sweetness. Those attributes are often looked down upon, and seen as less superior or weak. We want to challenge the notion of those attributes by showing the power of cuteness, sparkles, and traditionally “girly” colors. By doing so, we hope to celebrate the diversity of gender expression and create a space where women can feel empowered and valued. I remember being a teenager and being shamed for liking the color pink and hating it after that. It feels empowering to be able to lean into that and take that back.
Aesthetics might seem superficial or insignificant but in this day and age where we live in a very fast-paced social media society, I think graphics have an important place where it shapes style and identities, especially young ones.
There is something in the current mode around these works. Are there any works out there that influenced this work?
Absolutely, I don’t think you can shape anything from scratch these days. We are very influenced by other 3D creators, especially each other. I wrote an article the other day about algorithms and how they shape digital art in a way where everyone is fed the same images and it’s dangerous not to break out of those information cycles. I think that's also an important aspect of our project, where we could potentially influence the algorithms and empower creators in that way.
How has your creative practice evolved in this collaboration?
We have always felt that we were never competitors but collaborators, I think our work lives within the same regimes but they are still different planets. Sarah’s worlds are more sparkly and sweet, and Maria’s are harsher and Metallic. It is fun to confirm that aspect of collaboration. Women are often pushed to work against each other and compete with each other when it absolutely does not have to be that way. We have just been having a great time exploring different things together. I think our respect for each other has deepened, as well as teaching each other different technical aspects. Sarah knows some things and Maria knows some things and together we have a full toolbelt.
Do you see this work being carried out in multiple mediums?
Absolutely. Expanding beyond screens is something that we both love to do. We are constantly looking for ways to impact the world from beyond screens. We would love to explore ways to bridge reality and virtuality and get that message across at the same time. This funding obviously allows us to sit with it and really spend time figuring out new ways to express our project.
About the Artists
Maria Gudjohnsen is an Icelandic New Media Artist / 3D generalist based in New York City.
She has exhibited all over the world with work that experiments with different mediums to explore the potentials of reality and virtuality. The artist’s works depict utopian speculations of potential realities, inspired by the future, Sci-fi, and computer graphics.
Commercially, she has worked with brands including Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Adidas, Palace Skateboards, Jagermeister, LN-CC, One Times Square and more. Featured in I-D Magazine, It's Nice That, etc.
Sarah Ann Banks is a digital artist based in Brooklyn, NY working primarily with 3D animation software. She uses the virtual space to build an expansive world full of fantastical objects and creatures. These creations are born from vintage objects, nature, and her own personal narratives. Banks develops stories and personalities that overlap between her works, updating with her own interests and daily life. The content ranges from deer with thick pink lashes to mysterious smoking cauldrons.
Banks received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2019. Some of her recent clients include Instagram, Urban Decay, Coach, and Nike.