A Painter Whose Canvases Combine Minecraft, Q-Bert, And M.C. Escher

Have we all forgotten how crazy virtual realities could be? Let’s not give up on them just yet.

The world has gone digital, but it seems that the near future may look more like The Terminator than The Matrix. With our cell phones and even augmented reality glasses, HUDs in the real world can augment what we see–meaning that the whole ’80s-’90s fantasy of escaping into pure digital constructions may be sidestepped, at least in the near future, for digitizing the experience of the real world.

Nodulor, 2012. Oil, acrylic on canvas.

But what would a 100% digital world look like? That’s the sort of question Viktor Timofeev asks through oil, acrylic, and ink. He creates grandiose cyber landscapes, blocky worlds filled with tastes of Q-Bert, Minecraft, Mario, and M.C. Escher. “I don’t like to have any text next to these … I prefer to let them speak for themselves,” Timofeev confesses, lamenting write-ups like what I’m crafting now. “I don’t imagine associating these with too many weird keywords such as cyber or dream-like, or utopian … they are just places I want to be.”

I can understand Timofeev’s frustration. We’re all attempting to categorize his art as depicting an entire field that hasn’t been decided. We casually throw around words like “cyber,” as if techno sci-fi realms have an established set of rules and traditions as deep as, well, real ones. Computers are a recent invention. The web is even more recent. And sci-fi writers are all just guessing, creating definitions for things that might not come to pass.

Things of Things, 2012. Ink on paper.

In that light, the only safe word to describe Timofeev’s work may be “digital.” His places, while seemingly unlimited in their imagination, are actually quite rigid constructions that fail to recognize curved geometry (try to spot a sphere amongst the cubes–you can’t–though a rectangular ribboning makes an appearance in one image). While we all know computers can create near photorealism, Timofeev seems to enjoy referencing the limitations of bytes, while simultaneously exalting their strange perfections: How many stacks of cubes have you seen in real life?

No, I don’t know what Timofeev would like you or me to call his work, but I do know what I would call it. They’re blatantly digital landscapes, places where Timofeev would like to go. And one day, he just might.

[Hat tip: The Creators Project]


About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach