The Beauty of CGI and Instagram

This blog will be about the combination of CGI and how small, absurd and uncanny CGI animations have gone viral many times on Instagram. After last weeks discussion about virtual worlds, I started to think about ways people use digital productions, CGI and animation. Sometimes it is very obvious that CGI or animation is being used, think of films like The Lion King (2019) or Ready Player One (2018) but a lot of times CGI is not only used in these big Hollywood films. That is why I wanted to look at the way a lot of people, some of them artists, use CGI animation for videos and images on different social media platforms.

What is CGI?

CGI stands for Computer-Generated Imagery, which explains a lot already. CGI are images or a series of images (video or film) created by motion-artists. Creating CGI can be done for many reasons. It is most commonly used within films or video-games, or as we talked about last week, virtual worlds. But it can also be a medium for many artists creating video art or mixed media artworks. As a result, many of these videos end up on Instagram for the masses to see.

When generating these images they allow us to see things that in some cases are not actually there. CGI allows us to:

  • See things that do not exist, because they are only in design or visualization stages
  • See things that otherwise cannot be observed because they are outside our visual perception
  • See things that could not exist (creating data that display things that are inconsistent with our 3D reality)
  • See abstract concepts or concepts for which the true visual reality is confusing

From Roy Hall in ‘Illumination and Color in Computer Generated Imagery’

CGI and Instagram: The way to stand out

What I find so interesting with these CGI videos on Instagram is that they tend to dismiss our ideas of reality and the boundaries to our perception. They pave a way to expand and visualize elements of our fantasies, just like painting, photography and other art forms have done. In this way the digital era has and the creating of CGI have made a new form of art, but still continuing the ability to express and create new worlds and ideas.

A lot of these motion artists that post their works on Instagram make use of CGI to create absurdist video art, which has become a characteristic style for these videos. This way of breaking boundaries, visualizing things beyond our conception is something CGI technologies allow motion artists to do. CGI allows artists to create fantasy environments and characters, something that dismisses realism and follows more in the line of Surrealist ideas. It is made to be uncanny, absurd and almost uncomfortable to watch.

As a lot of social media platforms tend to follow the same sort of style, it is hard to actually stand out of this endless scroll. But these animated videos have this shocking ability that makes us stop and watch. Something that catches the eye because of its confusing and uncanny atmosphere. Hereby making it one of the more interesting phenomena on Instagram nowadays. Not only because of its more complex technology or by being able to create something outside of our usual perception but because it actually gets us out of this endless scrolling action. By being absurd and weird, it stands out.

This, I think is the beauty of CGI. The ability to create something that is not actually there, something closely related to fantasy, but can also be very realistic. So on the one hand, for example in films, CGI tends to be there to create a new reality, to form something that is in some form realistic it can convince us it is part of the film’s environment. But the animations on Instagram tend to do the opposite, not to blend in but to stand out, to make it not per se realistic, to make us believe it is real or blends in, but to focus on the endless possibilities CGI can bring.

Interested? Check this out: