stereoscopic 3-D image by James Moulton

3-D Demo Artist James Moulton

James Moulton will be in the 3-D Studio demonstrating 3-D ink drawing March 31 and April 1. All photos courtesy of the artist.

Olivia Davies: What will your demonstration at the DAM look like? What can visitors expect?

James Moulton: There will be some large drawings showing how red and blue stereoscopic 3-D images can be used to obscure an image and give the illusion of space. I will have an animation that shows how a traditional two-dimensional drawing can be subverted into showing space and distance. I will demonstrate how, in contrast to a regular drawing, a 3-D element starts to create the illusion of depth. The animation will be shown on a monitor so that it can be seen by the audience in a loop.

My demonstration will show how very traditional drawing can become more through a step-by-step process. I will first show a traditional drawing, and then will place the drawing into a digital format; the drawing will then be transformed into layers and moved around into a cohesive composition. The final step is then selecting which layers will become red and blue to create a stereoscopic three-dimensional image layered onto a two-dimensional image.

stereoscopic 3-D image by James Moulton

OD: How did you come up with the process to create 3-D ink drawings?

JM: I was influenced by Jean Robertson’s Themes of Contemporary Art: Visual Art after 1980; one of his focuses is how modern artists dealt with the theme “space.” Many artists used placement and arrangement to give viewers an opportunity to think about perspective and how objects occupy an area. I’ve realized that my strength in art has been to rely on drawing in two dimensions, but I was still interested in using flat media to show space.

While looking back at some of the art I was most excited about when I was young, I remembered how my father and I would collect trading cards and would get excited about finding rare hologram cards. It was almost magical to me to see a favorite subject in a little 3-D illusion environment.

Thinking of these memories led me to ponder on using different flat art that had 3-D illusions. I started to experiment with using old-fashioned red and blue 3-D images in my work. I really liked the medium because it reminded me so much of the joy I had when I was young. Having to place on special glasses also gives each viewer an altered perspective that separates their experience from others.

The first time I showed work with the 3-D red and blue process, I liked how dynamic lines and layers became. I’ve started to fall in love with it ever since. Over time I also started to see how artist like Gary Hume and David Salle used lines on top of lines and paintings on top of paintings to create obscurity and interaction between subjects.

OD: What were some challenges that you encountered along the way and how did you overcome them?

JM: One of the biggest challenges I face in animations is finding a way to format what I am doing to the medium. The thing that I am learning the most is the importance of timing. If one drawing stays stagnant on the screen too long, I feel like the viewer loses interest. If the image isn’t on the screen long enough, the audience misses the drawing’s importance or relevance. The editing and timing of the animation is very specific in that way, and usually watching the animation with a crowd is the best way to find the most effective timing.

I hope to update my software soon and try some other sources of video editing to come up with more elaborate animations. Right now, I’m using software that is more than a decade old, which is another challenge.

My compositions require balance and attention to their complexity as well. When I was showing a wall-projected version of an animation with 3-D elements, I noticed that if the 3-D layers overlapped too much with the layer in the background, lines started to get too tangled together. If images were too full the viewer would have difficulty deciphering what they were watching. While I want obscurity to be part of my work, I don’t want unbearable confusion.

OD: What do you hope to achieve with your artwork in the future?

JM: Making 3-D artwork has been a joy; I want to make a larger volume of 3-D images so that I can create art books for them. I also really enjoyed the screen-printing process and its community is really easy for me to embrace. I would like to work in an artist's residency, before committing to getting a master’s degree. I like to be active in teaching and exhibiting art, both my work and others. Art became a big part of my life in high school, so I often think it would be a great way to pay it forward by teaching art. My wife really enjoys baking and we have thought that it would be a dream come true to combine a gallery and a bakery together in the future.

Olivia Davies was a studio and artist programs intern in the department of learning and engagement at the Denver Art Museum.

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