Meet Andy Picci
With Carbon Mercurial, Andy Picci brings materiality to the digital realm. Meet the creative mind behind the groundbreaking metamaterial.
“Virtuality should be enhancing reality, not copying it.” That is the creative motto Andy Picci lives by. The digital artist is known for his surreal dreamscapes, augmented-reality sculptures, and mesmerizing face filters exploring the construction of identity. The Swiss native and Central Saint Martins graduate’s work explores the torments of an age dominated by social media, while approaching the virtual as a new way to connect and create communities. It has been showcased internationally, including at König Galerie, OÖ Art, and CADAF Paris.
With Carbon Mercurial, Andy Picci is pushing the boundaries of his exploration of digital realism, evoking the tangibility and beauty of a precious material, while unlocking the unlimited potential of digital creation. This state-of-the-art metamaterial, which can be digitally molded into any form, is launching in a series of limited-edition NFTs, with owners having access to exclusive virtual jewelry collaborations in the future.
The contemporary artist spoke to Carbon about exploring the tension between virtuality and physicality, his work process, and his exciting vision of the future of design in the Metaverse.
With Mercurial, you have translated the qualities of a precious metal to the digital realm. How do you recreate the feeling of materiality virtually?
We are still in the process of defining what a virtual experience can mean. In general, users feel disappointed by the lack of touch, the intangibility of the elements.
I like to approach the topic from another perspective, though. In my opinion, feelings and emotions are real even though you cannot “touch” them. I like to think that, as long as my work can evoke an emotion in my audience, it is “real.” For me, the conversation around reality isn’t about materiality, but about spirituality.
My goal with this project wasn’t to replicate a real-world material, but rather, to take materials we are familiar with and present them in a different way, playing with the notion of solidity, weight, or sizing.
Which technical tools do you need in that process?
I use any tool I can think of, virtual or not. Then I take that tool and ask myself: What has this not been designed for? I really believe that experimentation and failure are very important parts of completing something new, so I like to hijack the main use of a tool to create something that hasn’t been seen before.
That is what I did with the HDRI, for example, which is the environment map. It should reflect the environment into the chrome texture, but what happens if, instead of using it as a mirror function, you link it as a bump map or as noise distortion?
So, you don’t always know exactly what the end result will be when you start a new project?
I really like to let imperfection be part of the work. I feel that every medium has its own limits, but these bugs, the impossibility to replicate exactly what I visualize in my head, are part of the proof of the medium.
What design possibilities only exist in the metaverse?
Virtuality is much freer than the physical world. For example, if you melt metal in real life, roughness is the first thing to disappear. Whereas with the metamaterial I designed for Carbon, you can see the material is liquid, but it still appears to be textured. That is a new way of disrupting something that our brain considers logical.
I also added a patina on the side that looks frozen. Once again, in reality, if a metal is liquid, it’s melted, so it cannot be frozen at the same time. These are just examples of things that look real, but that doesn’t make sense in terms of the logic of the physical world.
How would you like to see Mercurial being used by creators and jewelry designers?
I sincerely hope that they will embrace the possibilities that this medium and project offer. Virtuality means that you are not restricted, so I hope that future creators won’t limit themselves to what jewelry “should be.” A virtual accessory can react and you can interact with it; it can adapt depending on who’s wearing it, or where.
So far, many projects have tried to replicate virtually what already exists in the physical world. This is not my vision of what it could and should be. Virtuality should be enhancing reality, not copying it.
What excites you about Web3 and the Metaverse?
As long as people try to replicate the physical world into the virtual world, it won’t make sense. The moment we offer a world in which things we can’t do in real life are suddenly possible, we will all start to have fun.
The main aim here is to create a connection, a bridge between reality and virtuality. There is no way a YouTube video will ever replace a live gig by a musician. But at the same time, I’m pretty happy that if I want to see a video clip or listen to a song, I don’t have to wait until the gig. This should be the same with art, with all interactions. They can exist in different ways, virtually or physically, without necessarily replacing each other.
The artist behind CARBON Mercurial.
Andy Picci is a contemporary artist specializing in digital and 3D art who uses surreal dreamscapes, augmented reality sculptures, digital lettering, and face filters to explore the construction of identity and social media. He has collaborated with brands such as Louis Vuitton, Byredo, Adidas, Porsche, and Samsung, and international art institutions and events including König Galerie, OÖ Art, and CADAF Paris.
Though his artistic creations have been described as dreamy and playful, the Swiss native and Central Saint Martins graduate is looking to understand the torments of an age dominated by social media, approaching virtuality as a way to connect and create communities.
For Carbon MercurialTM, Andy Picci has created a state-of-the-art metamaterial that can be digitally moulded into any form. With an unparalleled understanding of digital technology, Andy Picci evokes the tangibility and beauty of a precious material, while unlocking the unlimited potential of digital creation.