Who: Race Krehel, digital artist
His aesthetic: Call it “psyberpunk”, says the American (@supercybertown) who’s been based here since 2008. A self-coined portmanteau of psychedelia and cyberpunk, the term certainly captures the 34-year-old’s vision of futuristic urbanscapes awash with throbbing neon lights, shaped in part by juggernauts of the genre such as Blade Runner and The Fifth Element.
The Answer, a music video for O$P$ – the electronic music duo Krehel co-founded with local DJ Zushan Benny – sees songstress Vandetta rebirthed as a sentient artificial intelligence avatar, set amid an Akira-esque interpretation of Geylang.
It’s a fascinating blend of 3-D animation and motion capture (the same technology used in Avatar). “I love building elaborate scenes for stories to play out in, so a lot of my work revolves around cityscapes in some aspect or another… It’s a semi-satirical take on what cities might look like in the not-too-distant future.”
That said, he’s adept at pretty things too – he snagged top prize at the 2018 Sino x Niio Illumination Art Prize for his dreamy animation of a shrine on an idyllic island replete with floating rocks and sakura trees.
What got him started: “I’ve always been interested in the digital creative arts… Movie Magic was my favorite TV show, and the science and craft behind film-making became a major passion. I went to Savannah College of Art and Design for film, but quickly switched to visual effects after realising that going to film school wasn’t a direct path into the industry. I moved here right out of college and started at Lucasfilm Animation Singapore two days later.”
On Singapore’s animation scene: “Singapore’s small, which works to our advantage. There isn’t nearly as much competition as in New York, Los Angeles, or Tokyo… We have resources at our disposal, and there’s space for everyone to make their mark.”