by Manu SharmaOct 07, 2023
Digital artist Artem Grigorov, who goes by the creative moniker Newnome Beauton, makes incredibly rich digital artworks on TouchDesigner, despite not hailing from an artistically driven background. A molecular biologist by profession and education, he tells STIR that signing up for a three-month long TouchDesigner course was a watershed moment in his life—“It was the first time that I felt the craving to create visual things, and realised that the process of it brings me pleasure,” says the visual artist. He continues, “Two years ago, I started studying in an online media arts program at the Rodchenko Art School, but quickly dropped out because I wasn't interested in creating art per se, at the time. I am primarily interested in creating systems and forms, most often generative, that I find beautiful. In that sense, I consider myself more of a researcher than an artist. I was also drawn towards an artistic practice because of my desire for quick results, because in science, which is still an important part of my life, you achieve a certain result after a very long time; sometimes it takes years. The lack of short-term results is very depressing, at least for me.”
"Creativity was for me a way out of this situation and allowed me to feel the joy of the process leading to the result, which did not take several months or years. Of course, I understand that the situation is more complicated than I describe and that there are masterpieces that are created over the years, sucking the whole soul out of the artist. But for me, the moment of pleasure, lightness and play that I feel while creating a new work remains central.” A collection of ideas and mistakes often build up for Grigorov, leading him to something very interesting. This can occur over a few hours, or even just 10 minutes. “I find this amazing,” says the digital artist who prefers to be known by his moniker Newnome Beauton .
The artist has a hard time singling out an individual, in particular, who has inspired him, but mentions that he enjoys abstract art a great deal—Suprematism, American abstract expressionism and minimalism, in its various forms have given him a great deal of enjoyment. “I wasn't particularly interested in computer graphics until I started doing them myself.” Knowing what we know now about him, the influence, at least on a conceptual level, is plain to see.
Expanding on TouchDesigner and discussing his love for the software, Grigorov shares, “The interface of the program is based on the concept of visual programming, where instead of writing code, you sequentially connect operators called nodes. TouchDesigner is designed to create computer graphics in real time, but due to the flexibility of this program, it can be applied in completely different areas. This flexibility means being able to manipulate and transform different data formats, which opens up a lot of creativity. In addition to visual programming, TouchDesigner assumes the possibility of classical programming in several languages, which also greatly expands its capabilities. All this makes TouchDesigner the best option for me so far, for the generative graphics that I do.”
In terms of creative process, the artist unsurprisingly finds his greatest inspirations in mathematical and biological systems. He often starts by learning a maths equation, then builds it up in complexity, finally fine-tuning its visualisation. He is most heavily focused on creating minimalist and abstract works. However, he also works with figurative images. Grigorov mentions that he really likes to work with photogrammetry of real spaces, and often tries to pay a lot of attention to the texture at play, making it as tactile as possible. “I am also very colour focused,” he says. “Despite the fact that most of my work is monochromatic at the moment, grey has a huge number of shades and you can vary the colour of the surface from matte concrete to a metallic sheen.”
In the past year, the artist has completed several commercial projects as a freelancer. Looking back at three such projects that have been especially significant for him, he recalls—one involved creating content for the concert tour of famed grunge band ‘Alice in Chains.’ He did that with the Surround Studio in mind, under the direction of Brad and Brian Palmer. It was a large and complex project that required reworking the grunge aesthetic and presenting it in an updated, modern way. Grigorov tells STIR that the show itself was phenomenal, and he is happy to have been able to work with the team that he did.
“My works were included in the latest Metallica music video, Lux Æterna, which was directed by Tim Saccenti. I am very happy and proud to be a part of this project. In fact, major projects opened up another facet of creativity for me that I had not felt before. When you complete a project, you have to adapt and learn quickly. Interaction with talented and interesting people from whom you can learn is one of the most enjoyable aspects of this kind of work. I also made an illustration for an article in Noema magazine, which focuses on the role of concrete in architecture and its contribution to global warming,” he narrates. This was also a very interesting project for Grigorov as concrete is an aesthetically inspiring material for the artist, despite its apparently destructive nature.
When asked where he would like to see his work go in the future, the artist says, “This is a difficult question. Some things you want to leave unpredictable and just watch how they develop. Their development will be determined or limited by a mixture of technology, my aesthetic attitudes, the art that influences me, mistakes and failures, my desire to look for new visual images and lots of other things. In this sense, I do not want to predetermine my own progress.” Despite this, he does maintain faith in the further development of real-time graphics, which will allow him to create more immersive and beautiful works. Concluding his interview with STIR, he adds, “Also, at the moment, I feel an urge to create large scale installations, which I hope to do in the near future.” A sign of things to come, perhaps?