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🌀Digital Sensuality🌀: Floating Together in a Digital Space with the duo behind Looping Lovers
What is “digital sensuality?” Stunning visuals. Sensuous textures. Hypnotic vibes.
Looping Lovers, the artist duo made up of Thomas Mayer and Philipp Reis, carved out a piece of the digital luxury map for themselves, a richly detailed territory they call “digital sensuality” where everyone is playing catch-up.
Rumfoords, the only authority on virtual luxury and virtual style, set out to do just that: sit down and get caught up by the duo themselves. What is it about their work that has drawn us in and made us fall so hard down their page?
They make the type of work you get lost in. Like their medium the looping video, their style is endlessly enveloping, bottomless in where it takes the viewer’s senses and imagination. And like the first few seconds of one of those loops, Looping Lovers has only just begun to hypnotize us.
In an in-depth interview with the two 3D animators, we touch on their recent success selling NFTs, their origins, their desires, and the freedom of this new digital world we all inhabit together. Read on.
Rumfoords: How did you guys link up?
Thomas Mayer: We had our individual journeys before we met, we both were graffiti artists. We met at uni and we clicked, always working on projects together.
At one point, we got in touch with a new layer of expressing ourselves through 3D software, and that’s when we just had so much fun being at Philipp’s place, working on these loops, and somehow everything clicked in the moment. We’ve been working as Looping Lovers ever since, for six years, and never stopped. We bounce ideas off each other. We encourage each other to be better. And we have more fun together.
That’s what I think is cool for us as a duo, to have this permanent contact with someone. We’re super connected, we’re in a constant loop.
R: Tell me about “digital sensuality.” Was that an idea you set out to capture from the start or did that evolve over the course of your working together?
Philipp Ries: It evolved over time. In the beginning it was just to get ourselves out there, to get comfortable with technology, to find a new way other than analog art to express ourselves. With the medium of loops, the idea of digital sensuality evolved.
The term was always attached to humanoids or characters, which is the core element of our style. Since the beginning, our characters float and move freely in the digital space.
PR: “Digital sensuality” always meant to be free from physical laws, from the outside analog world, to be absolutely in a floating state in the digital space. The characters don’t have to walk, they can do anything. That contrast between the surreality and reality got more and more defined over the years.
TM: Over time, the more and more you talk about it and think about it the more you shape your vision. You start finding words for what you’re doing. I just read somewhere that our bodies our sensors to the world. Our body receives everything as an input and we have different senses to receive these inputs.
That’s how I feel about these loops. Feelings from joy to calm to anger, I see them in these loops. A certain emotion is put into a time frame and lives there. When I look at “Pearl,” I want to be that guy, I want to be in space, I want to be completely calm, not attached to anything. That’s the beauty of looking at these loops that express a desire of what I really want to be.
R: How much of what’s going on in the world or what’s going on in your personal lives affects your choices like “Pearl.”
PR: It’s always the starting point of a new artwork, the reflection process of stepping back and looking at ourselves. Most of the works are really deeply attached to ourselves, some emotional feeling, or to behaviors or stories we’ve experienced in real life. Some are more abstract. We don’t want to be just a moodboard or a colorful scrolling page to be just visually pleasing. It’s more of a way to be nonverbal communication.
The “Pearl” piece, the body language, it’s just a body floating on a black background. It transports through the body language, through movement, through feeling himself in the space. We try to communicate without actually communicating. It’s a visual way of talking.
TM: There’s a starting point, a clear verbal idea in our mind. This first intention drives all the parameters that we’re using to make the piece: how fast the body moves, the expression of the space, the colors used. When I look through our page, I see what the initial thought of each piece was. It’s beautiful when it comes through in the end.
In the past we had more inspiration from the bigger global space and the internet. We used a lot of tech products and headlines and whatever happened in the world. That’s something we do less and less. Now we’re focussing more within us. Instead of putting headlines on the page we put our inner selves there.
PR: It’s a process to understand ourselves in a better or deeper way. For “Pearl,” the initial point was how alone we felt during lockdown. So the three or four people around me at the time, they put light on me, they put shine on me. If I’m the humanoid who’s floating in space, even if I don’t feel shiny or bright at the moment because of the whole lockdown situation, they have a reflection on me or a spotlight on me, so this makes me feel like keeping on, continuing on.
R: What are you most excited about right now? What type of work?
PR: A collaboration with an analog artist friend of ours named Paul Schrader. He does very abstract colors, beautifully composited together, and we’re working on a series of pieces that combine those established analog artworks with the new evolving digital ones.
The analog world is seeing NFTs evolving and puts more value into it. For us, the value’s always been there. The exciting thing about this collaboration is to merge these worlds and bring them together in one piece.
TM: What I think is most exciting is that the early NFT hype from the first quarter of the year somehow gave us the chance to focus way more on our art. We sold a couple of NFTs and it was super successful for us as a first step. Now we work on Looping Lovers more than ever before. Diving into new techniques and new technologies, the excitement just keeps building. That’s what drives me through this time when there’s nothing else to do.
R: How did it feel to be making the right art at the right time when the NFT boom hit?
TM: It’s the wildest thing that’s ever happened to us. We’ve dropped some videos in the past that were super successful. We had projects with clients that were massive in reach and successful and fun. But having this direct interaction with an audience of collectors, it put everything into a new perspective and it was so mind-changing. Half a year ago, I could never imagine this.
PR: Our loops have always existed on the Instagram feed only and then they go away from your feed. Now, they’re permanent. Collectors who really connect with the piece, who want to dive into the piece, they can own it now. They can display it like a real art piece and not just as a fast, consumable loop that you can only see on Instagram. This shift out of the platform itself is very exciting for me.