Enter the mesmerising and magical world of animation graduate Rebeka Mór’s digital 3D art
After a mind-bendingly impressive graduate project for the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, we talk to Rebeka on creating 3D images from nostalgia and dreams.
Based out of Rotterdam, Hungarian-born Rebeka Mór is a digital 3D artist with an incredible technical skillset. Touching on themes of "magic and reminiscing,” Rebeka conjures surreal worlds of extraordinary life that feel as uncanny as they do familiar. For Rebeka, a memory is illusive, ephemeral, and yet still tangible. The magic of the endless possibility to reminisce is elaborated in impressive 3D forms: mundane objects become enchanted relics of an unknown childhood, ants become macabre figures in a kawaii bedroom, and so forth. As discussed in our interview, it's this habit of “seeing [life] through a child's eye” that provides Rebeka with endless inspiration and creative stimulants.
Such elements crystallise together in Rebeka's graduation project, the beautiful and mind-blowing Shimmers. In the video, an unsteady “camera” guides the viewer through what appears to be a child's bedroom, slowly noticing increasingly mystical and unsettling elements that unravel in spectacular 3D fashion. “Shimmers is an associative story with a lot of room for different interpretations,” Rebeka says of the project's initial concept. It's addictive and sublime to watch, something you can't quite turn your head away from.
But more importantly, Shimmers is only one indication of Rebeka's vastly incredible talent that can be seen across her portfolio. She's essentially an artist that is able to hone in on the more fascinating and untouched elements of the digital 3D art world. For example, humanoid characters are of no interest to Rebeka, unlike her contemporaries. Instead, she uses a mixture of objects and scenery to craft much larger and more engrossing atmospheres for her viewers. It's enough to make us want Rebeka as the architect of our own dreams.
“I'm more interested in conveying meaning through the atmosphere and feeling of an environment.”Rebeka Mór
It’s Nice That: How did you first get into digital 3D art, and what excited you about it?
Rebeka Mór: During my first year of studying animation at the Willem de Kooning Academy, we were tasked with creating a 3D animation. It was a pretty big challenge for me at the time, since I was super comfortable working in 2D. The funny thing is that I completely failed this project, but the process of working with this new medium was so intriguing to me that I wanted to learn more about it.
The freedom that came with working in the digital 3D world was really inspiring for my experimentation process. My learning experience has been mostly instinctive, resulting in a playful approach to these highly technical softwares. I’m often not in full control, which has been extremely beneficial to my work.
INT: I love how your work deals with surrealism, magic, and dreamscapes. What is it about the digital art medium that lends itself to these themes?
RM: It's such an exciting tool for exploring surrealism and magic realism. 3D animation really allows you to create magical pieces because it has a natural ability to portray and materialise magic. It is perfect for creating immersive worlds, and it allows me to build a semi-realistic replica of our reality while being entirely free to incorporate otherworldly elements, apply supernatural physics, or modify shapes, textures, and materials.
INT: You’ve done so many amazing works. If you had to pick a favourite project, which one are you most proud of and why?
RM: At the moment, I think it would be my graduation project, Shimmers. It's a nostalgia-fuelled short film exploring my childhood memories, focusing on the magical way I looked at the world as a child. It captures scenes of wonder and the times when my overactive imagination scared me. The film is told as a stream of consciousness as the viewer explores dreamy scenarios in a world that invites them to reminisce.
I wanted to find out what I could do in a 3D short film without a traditional narrative structure. What the project turned out to be is an associative story with a lot of room for different interpretations. The order and pacing of the scenes were constructed to resemble a walk down memory lane. I also had this idea of placing the viewer in the shoes of the child and simulating the feeling of being there by letting them experience the scenes from a first-person view.
Working on a graduation project is usually stressful, and the abstract nature of my film made the progress a little uncertain at times. Early on, it was sometimes difficult to communicate my idea since I decided to figure most things out as I was working, which is not ideal in a school environment. I'm glad that I managed to trust my progress even when I wasn't completely sure where the project was headed.
“I realised that the essence of ‘seeing through a child’s eye’ is looking more closely at things and feeling a sense of wonder about ordinary objects and scenarios.”Rebeka Mór
INT: How was it to venture back into the mind of your child-self for that project? Did anything surprise you or inspire you?
RM: Looking back on the past few months and working on this project, the topic has really piqued my imagination, and I remember being in an inspired mind-space most of the time.
I began exploring the theme by filling a notebook with recollections of moments from my childhood and gathering memories that had the vividness and intensity which defined this period. Magical thinking and child logic are what inspired me specifically. When recalling my fondest memories, I also found that they were often very simple, such as waking up to a snow-covered garden, gazing at insects, or just being immersed in the present moment and relating to the environment around me in a direct way. I realised that the essence of ‘seeing through a child’s eye’ is looking more closely at things and feeling a sense of wonder about ordinary objects and scenarios.
INT: Another thing I love is that across your works, we often see pink and purple palettes. What is it about these colours that entice you?
RM: Lighting and colour in my work are usually chosen very carefully to capture a specific mood or emotion. My approach to this is intuitive, and I primarily base my decisions on my gut feelings. Pink and purple are colours I’m naturally drawn to but also the ones I associate with magic and reminiscing, which are often the core themes of my work.
INT: Your work also features a lot of mundane objects animated by a magical touch. What is the main difference in creating/animating static objects, as opposed to humanoid characters in 3D art?
RM: I think the workflow can become much more technical when working with a humanoid character rather than an object. For me, creating and animating a character is just not something I really enjoy. The stories I want to tell are usually not character-driven, and I'm more interested in conveying meaning through the atmosphere and feeling of an environment.
INT: Overall, Shimmers feels like a refined evolution of all your prior work. In what ways do you feel your craft has evolved whilst working on this at Willem de Kooning?
RM: I’ve become more comfortable working with the medium, which resulted in a much cleaner aesthetic world in the case of Shimmers, in comparison to my earlier work Delirium, where I embraced a more playful, experimental look. I made Delirium early on in my adventure with 3D, and the process included a lot of trial and error, which I decided not to hide in the final product. By now, I have fewer technical limitations and by practising 3D I can be more specific about my vision.
Rebeka Mór: Delirium (Copyright © Rebeka Mór, 2020)