Glance at the animal photos by Seoul-based artist Sarah DeRemer, and you’ll first see something familiar and then immediately know something’s amiss. Feathered creatures growl with sharp fangs, a meerkat bears an uncanny resemblance to a giraffe, and a bull with a permed hair looks as placid (and cute) as a King Charles Spaniel. These are DeRemer’s Hybrids, animal mashups that are at once mesmerizing and disturbing.
“I’m definitely fascinated by the abilities of digital artists to create an unrealistic image that looks completely believable and seamless,” she says. Instead of taking photos that compel viewers to sympathize with and relate to animals, DeRemer’s goal is to “evoke feelings of amusement and appreciation for seeing something they’ve never seen before.”
Technically, DeRemer pays a great deal of attention to the accurate matching of tones and lighting. “Photo composites instantly look less realistic if you’re composing them from photos that have different sources of light,” she says. The next step is to alter levels of contrast, saturation and color balance so that both photos match. “After that I work with adding layers, erasing parts, playing with opacity, and transforming/warping certain elements. The more different the two animals (i.e. fur blended with a sea animal), the more layers and changes necessary.”
DeRemer’s favorite composites are those that mix birds with growling and yawning animals, such as Birboon and Little Bit. “I like the simplicity of the bird’s forms and the intricacy and emotion of the open mouthed animals,” she says. She also enjoys exploring the juxtaposition between predator animals and their prey. Because in DeRemer’s world, nothing is as it seems. A snake doesn’t simply swallow a dog; it transforms into a Green Bark Python. And a beaver that gets into a nasty scrap with a cat comes out the other side re-imagined as an Angry Beavussy. We’ll just leave things there. Take a look in the gallery above.