Mr. Div is the Tumblr of Matthew DiVito, a motion graphics artist who makes multifaceted gifs. These aren't the spazzy cartoon loops the Internet is so famous for; these images consist of animated 3D shapes with rich textures and atmospheric lighting. While beautifully made, the style is decoupled from the technical prowess involved in creating nuanced and mesmerizing digital animation. The work is neither showy nor didactic, but nostalgic for a future only found in cheesy sci-fi flicks.
The colors of DiVito's rotating and blinking objects, the filmy filters, the skeuomorphic animation, and even an unselfconscious disco revelry are all marks of high quality retro-futurism, influenced not just by the present iteration of technology, but also by depictions of the future that were inspired by the 1960s' race to the moon.
With new pieces coming out monthly, steady if not frequent by Internet standards, Mr. Div's growing archive is full of beautiful and arresting pieces, but for new visitors to his feed a great place to start is meta_hexa, published in February of this year:
Matthew DiVito, meta_hexa, 2013.
The gif brings us back to a time before retinal displays, with large hexagonal pixels -- some of them faulty -- sunk in a black mesh grid. The screen is centered on a stack of isometric cubes, reminiscent of Q*bert, which ebb and flicker. Like much of Mr.Div's work, it abandons the pursuit of crispness encouraged by HD cameras and 3D computer animation, and instead lets the edges bleed, giving the gif a soft-focus glow. At once calling to mind the Lite-Brites of childhood and remnants of aging technology: old laptops running slowly after years of use, the lace of a shattered iPhone, or that one patch of dead pixels floating in the corner of your screen.
Mr. Div's gifs are definitely worth a look, but his recent video, THAT WILL BE THE DAY, an audio/visual collaboration with musician Aldo Aréchar, is frankly stunning. Something of a visual space opera, THAT WILL BE THE DAY is grand and beautiful throughout, but the most striking image may be 30 seconds in when, to a tremor of rising violins, a hallway of angled blue green lights frames the glowing ember of what could be both a plummeting spaceship and a falling star. It's the essence of watching an epic sci-fi movie -- the tragedy, the triumph, the heroic sacrifice all distilled down to shape and color and peculiar, intimate, motion.
Matthew DiVito, white_xmas, 2012.
The gifs and video, made using a combination of After Effects and Cinema 4D, are both an expression of current technological power and a celebration of, or perhaps yearning for, its predecessors. Mr. Div's work, which is only available online, takes advantage of, while picking apart, our screen-centered lives. Mr. Div asks us to please remember the magic offered by computers still in their infancy, and urges us to resist the screens' subtle slide toward the mundane.
For more information on Mr. Div, visit mrdiv.tumblr.com.