Future Grime with Tony Murray

Rumfoords sits down with the 3D style artist to discuss his exclusive piece of original content.

Rumfoords is the most discerning selector of fine 3D style and luxury in the world. We have our eye on many creators of such experiences and every so often we ask them to grace us with one of their works.

This week, we’re pleased and grateful to tell our dear readers we have another original piece of 3D style to share that not only meets our standards but will surely meet yours.

Tony Murray is a San Francisco-based designer and fashion vet who’s creating some of the most vital and vibrant 3D style available, pointing the way forward for a new discipline that borrows from the past but is never backward. Rooted in physical garments, Murray’s latest work shows that the most open-minded among the traditional fashion community are finding fertile new ground in software, creatively and commercially.

His Rumfoords original style piece is called “Future Grime.” We spent some time with him asking about his inspirations and process. You can read our conversation below.

Rumfoords: What was the inspiration behind this piece?

Tony Murray: I started with the Rumfoords rainbow gradient. And I thought, What can I do that would really highlight this? I thought about Jumbotrons, that you see at concerts.

So then I thought, OK, what if one of those Jumbotrons was in an industrial warehouse-type space? With the outfit, I did it using metallic materials because I wanted something that could really reflect and sparkle off that rainbow gradient.

And then I watched this French film from 1981 called “Diva.” There’s one character who’s this rich dude, not a villain but someone who might just be independently wealthy, and he’s got this huge loft space with all his walls painted black and neon everywhere and he hangs out in a bathtub in the middle of the place smoking cigarettes and listening to opera. I thought, OK, that’s what the space should look like!

R: Cool!

TM: Have you ever been to Dia:Beacon?

R: Of course!

TM: Because my next thought was, What if Dia:Beacon were a loft in France? If you look in my video, there’s a mirror in a pile of dirt. That was directly inspired by a piece at Dia:Beacon called “Leaning Mirror” by Robert Smithson. I wanted to play with more mirrors to reflect the rainbow from the Rumfoords gradient.

TM: And then there are a lot of mistakes in the piece. I wanted the avatar to start out as this geometric, robotic form and then turn into more of a human.

But I made a mistake and I took the material that's in the skirt and accidentally applied it to the avatar and it was an error. But it instantly looked really great. So I just left it.

And the application of the clothes, I thought, what if the way you put on clothes was like you were putting together a model? The clothes just sort of float over and attach to you.

R: Back to the Rumfoords rainbow gradient. What else in your piece followed from that?

TM: Everything in the piece is there to play with light. Like the floors are kind of wet. The whole purpose there is to reflect the rainbow video.

The outfit is roughly based on something I saw from Gucci. They did this thing with a bodysuit top that has a low neck, low back with the strap across and they paired it with a leather skirt and the top had these micro sequins. And that was the inspiration there. It’s a loose interpretation.

R: What’s the feeling you were trying to evoke with this piece?

TM: It’s really easy to use a word like cyberpunk, terms like “Blade Runner” or vaporwave, these are just easy shorthands that you can say and immediately the other person gets it.

But I was going for a grimy future, somewhat dystopian techno-vision. Like a future grime.

R: Feels right for the moment.

TM: I’ve actually really avoided any pandemic references in any of my pieces. I don’t do a lot of masks. Even though the pandemic is the underlying theme of our lives right now and informs everything that we do.

This vision is almost a nostalgia for pre-pandemic. Going out to parties in raw warehouse spaces, because my actual pandemic experience is a combination of confined and very natural. I live right next to this huge park in San Francisco and so my pandemic experience has been hiking in the woods.

The grime of now is the exact opposite of what this piece evokes. So many futuristic visions have an echo in the past in them. There’s a nostalgia and retro element to all of our future visions because I think we actually don’t have that great of a forward vision, so we always project a re-working of the past into what we imagine the future to be like.

R: Speaking of the past, how did you get your start?

TM: I’ve been in the garment industry, and that’s where I picked up 3D. But 3D in the garment industry is fairly new. A lot of the software has been around but it was sort of clunky. But in the past couple of years pieces of software like CLO, or Optitex and Browzwear, those 3D modeling softwares are now taking off in the fashion industry so I learned that and got obsessed with it.

When COVID hit, I thought, OK, time to hunker down and just like really dive in.

R: Where do you want to be in a year?

TM: There are so many things happening. I really want to get much more slick about video production.

At the same time, there’s this huge revolution happening with VR. The two are related, but with VR you’re spending a lot more time building your framework. The good thing about VR, is that the hardest part about it is coming up with all your 3D assets to put in that space. I’ve already got that. That’s what I do all day every day.
I don’t know if you saw the Balenceiaga look book they launched a couple days ago.

R: The video game?

TM: Yeah, the video game.

TM: It’s just incredible. What’s amazing about what they did there is that it can get pretty gimmicky with VR. And they really did create a world. The whole time I’m going through it I’m thinking, What city is supposed to be inspiring this? And whoever did that art direction, they did an amazing job because I can see elements of so many cities I’ve been in and it really feels real.

R: What’s most exciting about this stuff to you?

TM: I like that it’s an unlock to creating new worlds. I’m excited to see VR tourism. You see this in real life. I live in San Francisco. There will be a hill with a swing on top. And that becomes like the most Instagrammed location of the year. And you go there and folks are lining up to get on a swing and get their picture taken so they can post it on Instagram.

I want to see that in VR. I want to see the most photographed virtual location. There’s this artist Alexis Christodoulou who makes these imaginary landscapes and you just started seeing those images on mood boards everywhere. Here’s a place that doesn’t even exist and people are reposting it all over the place. And now with VR you can actually be in that location.

R: What about some of your more fashion-focused work, like this iridescent puffer with orbs? What’s driving that for you?

TM: I think it’s about being able to really create a whole aesthetic and you see there are certain genres that can dominate. Like vaporwave. Everything is one pink light, one blue light and neon bars. And you can feel like there’s a lot of different digital creators who establish a certain look. There’s like a color palette that they go to.

For me, while I’m creating it feels like I’m unwrapping something. The aesthetic already exists somewhere and I’m mining for it and the way to get there is just to keep peeling back.

There was a post I did that was inspired by an Hermès dress. The dress itself was like this lattice. So it was like squares. So then I created something where I was playing with squares and mirrors. If you look at the video, everything plays on either a mirror or a square.

That’s what I mean by peeling back the layers. I know the reality is that building, but for me, what I’m building to is something that already exists and I’ve got to dig it out. And then when I throw in an element and it starts to feel a bit unexpected, then I know I’m getting somewhere with this.

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