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  • Date
    05 JULY 2023
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    Something alien becomes the new normal. An interview with Jordan Chappell

    Jordan Chappel is a London-based multidisciplinary art director and designer. Within 3D, Jordan mainly works on videos and animation artworks for clients within the music and fashion industry.

    His work blends together surrealism, retro futurism and contemporary visuals in the digital world.

    He already counts many collaborations with realities such as Dazed Beauty, Reebok, IDLES, Thaiboy Digital.

    A glimpse of his upcoming project Vermin is previewed today.

    Hello Jordan, considering my personal appreciation for IDLES (@idlesband), I would love to start with the music video for Crawl! to the realization of which you contributed. It consists of an amazing mixed media project where technologies as old as humanity itself and new ones cooperate towards the creation of a dissonant and yet captivating visual experience. Integrating the use of claymation (clay being the ancient technology I was referring to) and CGI, the project condenses different timelines without pacificating them. Can you tell us more about the video?

    So this was actually my first interaction working with mixed media for a commercial project, honestly it’s incredibly refreshing to experience something new as I’m so used to just working solely within the digital realm or on live action.

    Firstly claymation is fucking cool. It’s amazing to see the process of how it works as it’s such a time consuming commitment but ridiculously rewarding once everything comes together. I worked on the environment design and compositing, along with VFX which ultimately brought everything to life. I think the main obstacle we found is that with the current state of CGI and the levels of fidelity we are presented with today, it’s almost too easy to create things that are TOO good looking. We had to figure out a method of allowing my designs to coexist with the claymation in a way where it felt like there was balance. We actually ended up incorporating a lot of claymation objects that were scanned in as 2D cut outs.

    I’m also a massive horror and gore film fan so we all bonded over our love for old b-roll movies and flicks from that era. Overall it was such a sick experience and super fitting for IDLES as a band. 10/10 would love to work on something like this again.

    Huge shout out to Edie Lawrence (@mildtremor) for her amazing claymation work and director Loose C (@loose_C) for getting me involved on the project.

    Technology isn’t a neutral field: there is a whole material infrastructure owned by high-profits companies reminding us that technology is not inherently salvific. But I believe that the emancipatory potential of technology lies in its capability to imagine alternatives, to not arrest itself to existing narratives. We have an example of this in the statue you created as a remnant of an alien civilization exploring topics such as post-humanism, ecology and mutation.

    I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of what humanity could look like if it had to adapt to a different climate or an alternate timeline of nature's course. It’s kind of that longing to discover aliens.

    What if there was a substance to replace oxygen and we mutated with 3 sets of arms?

    It’s also a topic I tend to gravitate to a lot and I get inspired by people who are forward thinking and open. I think for humanity to develop further we need to let go of gender boundaries and embrace change. Almost so much that the idea of something alien becomes the new normal. I hate the idea of there being limitations on what you can and can’t do, the same with what you create. Working with the people I choose to work with allows me to open an infinite matrix of possibilities where none are black and white.

    Like many of us, you recently started using AI and you shared some photographs of alien goths at an underground rave in Berlin during the 90’s. While these might look like a sci-fi product, I think that, instead, they can help us visualize “alien” subjectivities that are as real as you and me. They’re just socially unacceptable and ghettoized: in this sense rave parties have always been a safe space for these subjects. What is the relationship between aliens and rave parties?

    Much like the previous answer it’s the ability to be free. There’s such an amalgamation of social groups that no one cares what you look like. One thing in particular that inspired the idea for this photoset was the music video for FKA Twigs and A$AP Rocky’s Fukk Sleep. Something about that club scene always stuck with me and I think the fusion of fashion, fetish and non-conformity is a beautiful thing.

    Much like raving in 90’s Berlin, today’s society is often associated with boundary pushing mu- sic and a scene where no rules apply.

    You collaborated with Absolut (@absolutuk) for their series Born to Mix which was also featured on Dazed. How did this collaboration come to be? Is the future of fashion digital?

    What I love about digital fashion is that there’s no limit to what can be achieved, for me it’s going from an idea to execution all within my own studio. I can create a garment and place it on any body in any world I choose.

    With the rise of Meta there’s always going to be space for it and even having crossovers into the real world is super cool.

    Most of your projects are born as collaborations in the music industry (music videos, EP covers and so on). What’s the reason behind the receptivity that both music and fashion show towards digital technologies?

    There’s always been a need for CGI in both industries but I think lately we’ve been seeing a lot of trends and a big influx of young artists getting into 3D with accessibility of free and open source softwares. Sometimes it can get quite repetitive when the same VFX and tropes are be- ing rinsed over and over again.

    It often feels hard to have original ideas at this point as I feel a lot of styles are being ham- mered into our brains on Instagram and Tiktok and we’re just regurgitating everything.

    Often it’s quite refreshing seeing people try new things or incorporate other mediums, art styles, genres and direction. I really appreciate when artists or directors try things outside of their comfort zone, like even if it’s a risk just take it onboard if it feels natural.

    Any upcoming projects you want to share with us?

    I’m currently working on a personal series, something I’ve been wanting to do for a while but with commercial work it’s hard to find the free time. The project is called Vermin, it’s a mixture of fashion, a homage to 90’s nu-metal kids and of course aliens haha. I’ve always wanted to have a mascot/character personal to me, something I can grow with. I’ve always loved the KAWS and Father Steve figurines. This is like that but way more dark and an embodiment of my own style. Think like if loads of baby aliens crash landed on Earth and the first piece of information they discovered was a Limp Bizkit cd. I plan to launch these as NFTs later in the year and have them customizable.

    Interview by Davide Andreatta

    Image courtesy Jordan Chappell