Peter J. Sucy Artist Statement
Stereo imaging has fascinated me from an early age. In the fifties, my dad made stereo slides of us as kids. I found those slides, and the stereo viewer, when I was in my teens and I remember the powerful feeling of being in the room when the photo was taken. In the early 1960's, Kodak published an annual report with a 3D photograph on the cover. That amazing photo, also had a strong impact on me and was a memory I filed away for future exploration.
In the late 1980’s, I began experimenting with 3D modeling programs on my Macintosh computer. At first creating 3D rendered objects to combine with my digitized photos, but as my modeling skills improved, I began creating entire 3D modeled scenes. Soon, I began to wonder if my 3D modeled scenes could be output as stereo images.
I tested this theory with the film recorder in my lab at Kodak. Rendering a pair of stereo images from a 3D scene and outputting two 35mm slides. The slides were mounted in a cardboard stereo mount for viewing in my dad’s vintage Kodak stereo viewer. And It worked! I had created a 3D reproduction of my artwork. However, it was not exactly the greatest medium for gallery viewing.
I wanted people to experience my 3D spaces, as if they were actually there. I wanted to be able to make auto-stereographic 3D prints. No glasses or viewer needed, just like that 3D photo on the Kodak annual report.
Little did I know that the technology behind that 3D photo on the annual report, would reach out and find me. In 1996, a colleague who knew of my 3D art, asked if I would consult for a new division called Dynamic Imaging. This new division created 3D and motion images for advertising, using lenticular printing technology. The process combines multiple images or views into one printed image, which is then aligned with a special lens sheet to create 3D or motion images, sometimes combining both.
This was the medium I’d been waiting for! I decided to leave Kodak after Dynamic Imaging closed in 2001, and pursue a new career as a 3D artist. I’d learned a lot at Kodak, but still had to learn how to generate, print and laminate my own 3D prints. It was a long, expensive learning curve. There were no training schools or even workshops available. The lens material is expensive and you only get one shot at laminating it correctly. Off angle by a pixel or two, and it goes in the trash. Laminating is usually the make or break step in the process, but many more things can go wrong even before that step. It’s a very technically challenging medium.
The artworks in the Virtual Visions series are based on memories, dreams, visions, or sometimes just grow organically from an interesting 3D modeled and textured, wireframe background set that I’ve just dropped into the empty space of my virtual 3D film studio. I find an interesting camera angle, light it and it begins to speak to me as to what else it needs. I try to design the scene to draw the viewer in, and love to put little details for people to find.
Truly one of the only interactive print mediums, I think the potential for further exploration is vast. It’s a technology that has been around for more than a hundred years, but is finally becoming more accessible to artists.
Peter J. Sucy