Sally Jo on building new realities through 3D imagery and environments

From fauna to butterflies, the Seoul-born digital artist seeks to challenge the viewers’ perception of realness.

Date
4 November 2021

Sally Jo’s artworks are a medley of sorts. In her wide-spanning portfolio, you’ll stumble across a broad mix of techniques and mediums from photography, 3D, portrait and film. So therefore, to describe her output would be to go far beyond one discipline: “I would say my works are ongoing explorations of the sea of creating an image,” she tells us, “whether it be in real life with a digital camera or with a simulated camera within a 3D software.”

Born in Seoul, Sally has spent her years living in various locations across Shanghai, Chicago, New York, London and Lausanne. Her career in the creative industry began during her studies in School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), all the while she was considering becoming a graphic designer. Yet throughout her education, she tested out other territories and quickly realised the power of photography and image-making. This culminated in an early collection of works in photography and 3D, most of which were narrative and portrait-based. “I was immersed in the idea that I could create my own fictional space with fictional characters,” she says. “I also think it was my way of creating self-portraits, by drawing my narratives and my emotions into the subject that I was photographing.” However, since enrolling at ECAL to study for a master’s in photography (she stopped after one year of the course), her style made a switch as she began to find her voice. “I started to focus more on creating images that are more clear and easier to understand for a wider audience, but still portraying that same emotion and idea of creating my own reality in an image.”

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Sally Jo: Rendered, Petal (Copyright © Sally Jo, 2021)

These days, Sally’s subject matter varies between tropical fauna, milk-splashed serving plates, pills and painkillers. Dosed in signature glossy style, it seems that petals and florals take a more frequent appearance, notably within her collection of recent still life images. When picking something to explore, she says it often starts off with a subject that she’d like to photograph. Then, she considers thinking about how she can add a “new layer of ‘realness’” to it. For example, in her floral paper cut series, she started off the process by photographing the florals, after which she reprinted them on paper and rephotographed them after some arranging. In another picture, she says, “I have picked subjects such as fake butterfly printed waffle paper decorations or rose-shape sugar decorations that are already new iterations of reality in a way.” Whatever she decides upon, the lighting and colour play a key part in how the image will turn out – a consistent element that lasted long throughout her career as an artist.

In other news, Sally has also continued her love of the self-portrait in a piece that she constructed in Cinema4D. A recent favourite, she refers to it as a “photogrammetry-based image” that her colleague helped build from around 100 photos of her face, captured from all different angles. “Then, I reconstructed the face inside a software that switches these images into a 3D one,” she explains of the process. “These constructed 3D objects always have texture errors such as bumps and holes, and while most would edit these to make it an exact replica of the real one, I have decided to leave them as it is.” This adds a level of rawness and spontaneity to the image, which is something that’s often disregarded in the realm of 3D image building.

Even if her portfolio is diverse and far-reaching, there is one consistent theme that runs throughout: “all of my works are based on the idea of creating an image that somehow captures my idea of reality in a visually interesting way,” she says. Striving to craft an alternate reality – one that’s ultimately her own – her work is therefore skilled and measured just as much as it is completely organic. And to help her achieve this level of intrigue, Sally will always expand her knowledge of knew software and techniques that arise in the industry. “I see my works as constantly changing and evolving, and I’m excited to see what visuals and voice I can bring into the new medium.”

In the near future, Sally will be working across digital art direction and hopes to expand into more commercial realms mixing in both 2D and 3D image. For her personal works specifically, she’s currently taking the self-portrait topic to new heights and will be “exploring more about 3D recreations of myself, avatars, as well as game worlds that are another example of ‘new reality’”.

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Sally Jo: Paper Cut #1 (Copyright © Sally Jo, 2021)

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Sally Jo: Rendered, Pill (Copyright © Sally Jo, 2021)

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Sally Jo: Rendered, Pain Killer (Copyright © Sally Jo, 2021)

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Sally Jo: Rendered, Self-Portrait (Copyright © Sally Jo, 2021)

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Copyright © Sally Jo, 2021

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Copyright © Sally Jo, 2021

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Copyright © Sally Jo, 2021

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Sally Jo: Paper Cut #2 (Copyright © Sally Jo, 2021)

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Sally Jo: Paper Cut #3 (Copyright © Sally Jo, 2021)

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Copyright © Sally Jo, 2021

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Copyright © Sally Jo, 2021

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Sally Jo: Paper Cut #1 (Copyright © Sally Jo, 2021)

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.

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