What is The Wild Within?
The Wild Within is a series of digital artworks that bring new life into abandoned buildings from a bygone era.
Based on real-world physical spaces, an animated rebirth into a digital realm has been created.
The results are a surreal collision between the past and future, natural and manmade, physical and digital, and the real and imaginary.
The aim of the artwork is to create a sense of surreal tranquility whilst referencing the themes of architectural history, urban exploration, and the resurgence of nature.
Many of the buildings depicted in The Wild Within have been demolished in recent years, further emphasizing the theme of time passing in the cycle of growth and decay.
What's the inspiration?
Fascinated with witnessing remnants of the past
To build long term connections with the culture and place
The subject matter is fleeting — buildings are disappearing or have disappeared
We have long been inspired to travel to remote locations and discover places that have not yet been extensively photographed.
From Ukraine, Brazil, Russia, Iraq, Lebanon and China, we’ve always been drawn to places where social, cultural, economic and political extremes are reflected in the architecture and built environment.
We are especially fascinated with buildings that were abandoned and left to deteriorate without intervention. They act as time capsules, especially rooms that have been sealed off from outside visitors for decades.
By carefully composing images that are then turned into conceptual artworks, our interests related to architecture, nature, creative expression and the human condition are activated.
The structures that we base pieces on are inherently rare as many are deteriorating or have already disappeared since we first discovered them.
Whether due to fires, demolition, looting or the natural elements, in many cases the buildings cease to exist in the form they once were as our world rapidly modernizes.
Furthermore, the artwork immortalizes and preserves its subject matter on the blockchain, functioning as an act of artistic, interpretive architectural preservation within the work itself.
When did you get into digital art and NFTs?
Koopmans has been a professional photographer & visual artist creating and exhibiting his work around the world for the past 15+ years.
Together he and Wexell entered the Web3 space in March 2021 with the mint of ‘Hollow’ from ‘The Wild Within’. The first chapter concluded with 13 pieces in total, all minted and collected on SuperRare.
How do you create your work?
Research a location of interest
Travel to the country, locate areas of significance
Photograph the architecture
Transform images into three dimensional structures using digital tools
Implement virtual foliage, light, movement and atmospheric elements
Mint only the highest quality work on a thoughtful and considered basis
Connect with likeminded collectors & artists who share a long term vision about digital art and the future of the space
The artworks are imaginative scenes based on photographs of existing abandoned buildings throughout the world that we’ve researched, traveled to and then photographed. Then animated plants, light, structure and sound are added to create a moving artwork that seamlessly loops, as if suspended in time.
Our process starts with research into a particular city or country. The choice of location is based on an interest in the social, political, historical and architectural qualities of a given place.
For example, The Wild Within genesis chapter is set in the town of Tskaltubo, Georgia, photographed over a period of 8 years with multiple trips to the country.
The town of Tskaltubo was once a popular spa town during the Soviet Union. Upon the collapse of the USSR, the town’s ornate architecture fell into disrepair and the structures began to deteriorate.
Everlasting, the second chapter, comprises locations in Lebanon, Armenia, Georgia, Portugal, and Italy. Each of these regions has a unique story and our relationship to these places has grown profoundly over the years of creating.
At the early stages of an artwork or series, we prepare a detailed location list that accommodates for extra time to spend discovering unexpected sites along the way.
The time-intensive process of securing access, learning from locals, and understanding the contextual nuances of the subject matter is a crucial aspect of pre-production for this work.
We then travel to the country, sometimes for weeks (or months) on end and begin the process of creating photographs, traversing diverse terrain in our search for these forgotten spaces. Using specialized lenses we photograph architectural interiors and structures that align both conceptually and aesthetically with our thesis.
Once we’ve completed the photography component and returned to the studio, we then transform the visuals into 3D environments where animated plant life, light, structure, and sound are implemented.
Adding digital foliage emphasizes the concepts of nature’s revival, its relationship to human-made structures, and the passage of time.
These themes are central to the work.
The completed artworks are therefore imaginative scenes, based on real buildings that we’ve visited and photographed, but overlaid with animated plants, flowers and atmospheric effects to highlight the conceptual ideas that we are drawn to.
What does it feel like to explore these abandoned locations?
The sensory experience of entering these buildings is one of the most impactful parts of the creation process. The sound of your footsteps on creaking floorboards and the crunch of broken glass, the smell of wet moss and pools of still water, and clambering over crumbling concrete walls, through twisted iron openings to enter these rooms frozen in time, is a visceral feeling. These experiences are infused into the artwork.
It’s also a profound experience to meet local people, some of whom have known these buildings back in their prime but who’ve witnessed not only the collapse of the structure itself but also the collapse of the political ideologies and social fabric of the country as a whole.
What is the concept and how does it fit into Art History?
Cyclical nature of growth and decay
Contrast and paradox between what’s real and what’s artificial
Merging the physical and the digital
Rooted in Art History
Contrasts are an important part of this artwork. The cyclical nature of growth and decay and the passing of time are major themes.
Furthermore, the concept of ‘natural vs. manmade’ is paradoxically inverted from our typical interpretation of this notion.
The man-made architectural structures seen in the artwork are ‘real’ as they actually exist in the physical world, whereas the animated plants and sunlight (digitally created assets) are in fact artificially generated and not ‘natural’. Blending fact and fiction is a technique that contributes to the artwork feeling uncanny and surreal, which is something that we strive to evoke.
Occasionally, different architectural elements are composited by combining several photographs into a single artwork, resulting in a hybrid structure that’s based on both reality and imagination. A similar approach can be found throughout art history in the Capriccio movement of Renaissance & Baroque painters of the 1600-1700s.
Painters such as Giovanni Antonio Canal & Gennaro Greco were leaders in this genre, whereby decorative-architectural compositions were created by combining ruins and nature, both real and imagined.
The artists blended their imaginative and fantastical interpretations of exotic and historical locations, with ‘real’ drawings of architectural forms and structures that they’d seen in real life.
The result was a genre of painting that celebrated overgrown architectural ruins, combining fact and fiction amidst natural and manmade subject matter.
Did Jim Carrey collect your artwork?
Yes, Jim Carrey acquired Devotion, the final piece of the genesis chapter in The Wild Within. The artwork's tranquil and introspective qualities struck a chord with Carrey, and he's one of several collectors that we value deeply and are proud to have as part of The Wild Within.
His purchase brought considerable attention to both the artwork and the town of Tskaltubo where the building was located, leading to press coverage about the sale. This made the locals proud and excited that their town had received international attention.
Who is Ryan Koopmans?
Born (1986) in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Ryan Koopmans was raised on Vancouver Island, Canada.
2004–2008 BA from the University of British Columbia in Psychology, Geography and Art History
2007–2008 Architecture Drawing, Traditional Technique at Emily Carr University of Design
2009–2012 MFA in Photography, Video & Related Media at the School of Visual Arts in NYC.
Upon graduating in 2012, he worked around the world as a photographer on architecture, documentary, and editorial assignments. Publications include WIRED, Architectural Digest, CNN, Vogue, GQ, The Guardian, Mercedes-Benz & many more. Much of this period was also focused on creating fine-art photography and presenting in group exhibitions, solo shows and private collections.
In 2020 Koopmans published the book Vantage with Black Dog Press. The monograph consists of 10 years of his photographs depicting surreal structures in the world’s megacities and urban landscapes.
Who is Alice Wexell?
Alice Wexell is a Swedish 3D artist and photographer based in Stockholm, Sweden. She's especially interested in experiencing and creating surreal environments through new technologies.
Wexell has worked with Koopmans around the world on digital art & photography as well as assignments for brands for the past 10+ years.
What is the structure/timeline of The Wild Within?
The first mint of The Wild Within occurred on March 24, 2021. Each year, a new chapter of the project begins and artworks are gradually released throughout the year.
The number of artworks released per chapter depends on several factors.These factors include the the technical complexity of the pieces and the location where they are shot, the sale price of the previous piece, and the overall state of the art market in order to control supply and promote sustainable growth.
Will you collaborate with me on an artwork?
Collaborations can yield powerful results when artists share a strong conceptual and aesthetic alignment.
We have had the privilege of collaborating with several artists, such as Tjo, Cath Simard, and Han. These partnerships have afforded us the opportunity to engage in a fruitful exchange of ideas and techniques, resulting in works that we are proud of.
We are selective about the collaborations we undertake for several reasons. Producing a piece of art from start to finish is a time-consuming process, moreover we want to ensure that there's a strong conceptual connection with any collaborating artist we work with.
While we are always open to new ideas and creative possibilities, we limit the number of collaborations we release to maintain a high level of quality, scarcity and coherence in our work.
What is next?
Long term growth with a focus on 1/1s
Permeate traditional institutions
Provide value to collectors by controlling supply, refining the quality, and protecting the artwork at all costs.
Embrace new technologies - Support organizations and individuals who've helped us create this work
Physical exhibitions and reaching a wide audience
Our focus is on releasing 1/1 pieces of the highest quality, as many months are spent creating these artworks.
Careful thought & consideration goes into not only what is released but how they exist within a complete series, who would be an appropriate collector, and how to grow value for all involved. We embrace technologies that develop the artwork into immersive and contemporary, yet timeless, contexts. Using the power of Web3 and blockchain to support communities from where the artwork originated is also important to us and has had a positive impact.
We also enjoy mentoring other artists on their creative journey, sharing knowledge about digital art, photography, and our experiences in the market.
Although natively digital, we emphasize the importance of presenting the artwork as archival prints, on high quality screens, and unconventional displays. Exhibiting physical representations of the digital token is inspiring and creatively rewarding. Entering traditional art establishments, from museums to physical collections, is a focus that we pursue.
It’s our intention to display the artwork in the most impactful, wide reaching and powerful means of presentation that the technology enables.