Meet the artists behind the visually poetic Cool 3D World universe packed full of nightmarish glitchy graphics, harrowing sounds and surreal virtual scenes
Fat men puking up other fat men to lose weight, contorted bodies falling through the abyss and landing on a single finger, a man running through a tube connected to the belly buttons of two giants. Appearing on Vine last year, the unconventional, often nightmarish scenes from the Cool 3D World have gone viral and are now available on YouTube and Instagram amassing a huge following. It is the brainchild of Brian Tessler and Jon Baken, two web artists with a musical background who are changing the landscape of 3D animation and art.
Each short scene leaves you with a profound sense of confusion, with each new addition leaving you more unsettled than the last. Why do these characters look so grotesque? Why do they scream with such blood-curdling passion at nothing? What does any of it actually mean?
By pairing 3D animation with haunting sounds, the alternative universe began as an outlet for their “imagination and sense of humour”. "We started working together in the summer of 2015, exchanging musical and visual ideas,” Baken explains. “Cool 3D encompasses both of our styles from the past but also has been the platform for new experiments and ideas. We’ve had a lot of fun developing our craft.”
“We’re always trying to push ourselves, there’s an infinite amount of things to learn and we’ve barely scratched the surface” – Jon Baken
Having started on the short-looped video platform Vine which “served as a really quick way to come up with ideas” the pair now work side by side, programming music and graphics together to create each piece and have set their sights on longer more intricate sequences. The creative duo say that the ideas arise from “conversations with friends, films, music,” with Baken adding: “most recently, an entire video idea can come from hearing a song a certain way”. Check out Tessler and Baken's top 3 favourite videos below:
A LIFE WELL LIVED
The latest piece, A Life Well Lived, was conceived after hearing an Apple iLife jingle called Newborn. The video shows the life of a character from the moment of birth, weight-lifting in his crib and then in class where he falls in love with a woman who he grows old with, and as they both sit completely nude in a rocking chair his wife turns into a skeleton at which point he rises out of his chair and returns to his mother’s crotch where his life began.
It is doubtful that many people would conjure up the same image when listening to the mellow piano track, but in the Cool 3D World nothing is supposed to make sense and all scenes are deliberately abnormal, existing solely to push the boundaries of their own creativity and skill. “We’re always trying to push ourselves, there’s an infinite amount of things to learn and we’ve barely scratched the surface. As for the audience, we’re always happy to surprise people or show them something other than a perfectly rendered sphere,” adds Baken. Well, at least that means they aren’t planning on making conventional art anytime soon.
Tessler previously stated he is inspired by classical musicians who use traditional instruments to achieve high levels of emotion. By straining and warping these 3D models and incorporating sound design these unsettling shorts make use of modern programming in the same way. Data errors and exaggerated features convey extreme levels of emotion and whimsy. With that in mind, the hauntingly beautiful 'Worlds' film sequence showcases Tessler and Baken's talents as the conductors to an otherworldly batshit crazy orchestral gem.
After remarking that the longer videos are definitely "more impactful and rewarding", the pair continue the recent theme of incorporating electronic jingles and sound design as an outlet for their musical knowledge. The ethereal soundtrack to 'The Healer' really helps to hide the fact that you have absolutely no idea what is going on.