Eelco Brand

Strawberries

Not just a studio

You used to see them in almost every supermarket: gumball machines. Eelco has a studio in a former gumball factory in Breda, where he sits in front of a screen almost every day. When he’s not there, hard work is being done in the studio. A render farm comprising some six computers is calculating animations image by image, which takes a long time. This type of render farm is a group of computers that does nothing but render images.

Rendering is the computer-controlled compilation of photo and video material. The process ensures that the images in the film match up and become a beautiful whole. A render farm contains an enormous amount of computing power, which can save the artist a lot of work.

The computers turn 3D computer graphics into animations. Since the 1970s, rendering has become more of a specific area, a specialisation. It is used for computer games, simulators (which imitate reality) and special effects for films and the like. And… to create visualisations of designed objects, such as Eelco's artworks! Eelco uses a brush rather than a mouse, but he nonetheless feels like a painter.

Birth of a new universe

Right from his earliest works, Eelco has depicted nature and landscape scenes, from romantic atmospheres in nocturnal forest settings to absurdist and witty situations. The forms and representations are constructed out of nothing, just as Eelco envisages them. He spends enough time in the human world as it is and finds it more enjoyable to create a cosmos himself. Eelco devises a new reality, a story made by the computer.

New-fashioned sculpting

Eelco makes moving paintings with the computer using 3D modelling software. "They're spatial models. You build virtually and remotely. Not on a flat surface like a drawing. You work in the third dimension. An object has a side and a back, and you can tilt it, turn it around, mould it and pull on it. You could say it's a sort of virtual clay. New-fashioned sculpting but without clay. You have no contact with the material, everything is at a distance. You do it with a mouse or a drawing tablet. It's all imaginary, apart from in your head and ultimately on the screen,” explains Eelco.

What does Eelco call his work?

Set constructions. The 3D software that Eelco uses is a type of film studio. He builds a scene piece by piece by modelling all the components, putting them together and creating a construction that falls within the framework of the camera. Eelco places the lights that illuminate the scene. With camera and lights, he constructs a set.

Your own private world

Eelco says, "I think that what you see and experience is the source from which everything originates. Part of my art is that it has nothing to do with the news, with what's going on in society. I made a deliberate choice to keep those things out of my work. I like it when the sets I make are not literally a particular place on Earth. With nature, things are less recognisable. It's timeless and visible to everyone." 

Perpetuum mobile

'Perpetuum mobile' means 'perpetual motion'. It's an imaginary device that moves without using energy and keeps on moving. Eelco compares his artworks to such a device because they move without having a beginning or an end. You could also say: a still image, set in motion.

Treat strawberries as small treasures

Strawberries are very delicate, so it's important to be careful with them. They can be stored in the fridge for up to three days, but outside the fridge they last just one day. You also have to be careful not to bruise them as they will go mouldy faster. 

Fairy tale-like

The strawberries don't just look like strawberries. You probably see more in them than just speckled fruits. They are reminiscent of elves and lanterns. You are sure to have your own ideas about what they remind you of.

Excitement

Eelco continues, "I suspect that I'll start painting again at a certain point. Working with the mouse all the time isn't everything. I sometimes miss using paint, working with the material itself. If you really want to produce a good painting, you have to get excited about it. Right now, when I'm painting I feel that excitement less than when creating with the computer." 

Strawberry world

There's a theme park where everything is all about strawberries. It's called Strawberry Land, or ‘Aardbeienland’ in Dutch, and it's in Horst aan de Maas in Limburg. Strawberry Land has its origins in a strawberry growing business. There is a field where you can pick your own strawberries, a shop, an outdoor cafe and gnomes' houses. Even a strawberry museum! The park is open from April to October.

 
Diorama

This artwork has something of a diorama about it. You can immerse yourself in it completely. See the magic of luminous strawberries. How they grow in the forest, close to the ground. How the leaves rustle. You can dream up your own sounds that you think go well with it.

Nature instead of culture

Eelco almost always uses nature as the backdrop for his artworks, which means everyone understands where they are set. After all, nature is something that we are all familiar with. That’s also true for people who have lived in the city for years or who have hardly ever left it.

Perfect tools

From the very first moment that Eelco encountered 3D software, he thought it was the ideal tool for a painter. He says, “I’m moving light sources around and working on creating a spatial dreamscape within a certain framework. The 3D image is built up layer by layer, just like with a painting. A painter has physical contact with the paint; he touches it. I sometimes miss that. However, paint can be messy to work with. I control everything remotely with the mouse, sometimes by drawing on the tablet. But what I do is connected to my mind. I can work straight from my imagination. The 3D technology is completely tailored to that."

Back to the magic

Eelco always comes back to nature as the subject of his art: "We live in a period of disenchantment with the world. It's due to science and the emphasis on the intellectual."

Plants, clouds, mists, mosses and forest. People are getting further and further away from the mystery of nature. They sit in offices and walk through supermarkets. Perhaps that's why Eelco likes to focus on the natural world. 

Old Russian

Eelco loves a quote from the Russian writer Nabokov, who said of nature: “When you look at that, at that green surface, you wish you could see right through it. Inward, straight into the darkness of the incomprehensible.”

Mistake

Eelco began painting as a teenager. To him it was self-evident that he would go to art school. He ended up at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. He says, “I thought, this is a traditional education: they're going to teach me to paint even better here. But it was the wrong choice. I transferred to the Audio Visual Department at the Rietveld Academy, where various disciplines came together. It turned out to be much more interesting. You could paint in that department too, it was a type of playground."

Stubborn student

At the Royal Academy of Art, Eelco was opposed to painting as personal expression. For him, observation was more important. He says, "I took a cinematic approach and I saw painting purely as a technique for creating an image.”

What Eelco calls himself

"During the last century, the medium of painting was explored in all sorts of ways, so contributing to that didn't really excite me. There's a painting in which I have tried to approach the grass, the plant, at magnifying-glass level, to reproduce it accurately right down to the veins. So if you want to see expressive painting, I'm not your man. I’ve always regarded myself more as a biological printer," explains Eelco.

Kijk eens anders

What would you ask him or her?

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