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Insight: 3D art evoking emotion by breaking the law of physics

Text by Tina Gorjanc

Hussain Almossawi is a CG artist, director, and product designer based in Brooklyn, New York. He is the Mossawi Studios founder, a multi-disciplinary studio working across different industries worldwide, including footwear, automotive, and tech. Much of their work has been with world-famous companies such as Nike, Adidas, EA Sports, Ogilvy & Mather.

As part of his design process, Almossawi challenges himself to evoke emotion through visual experiences by intersecting science, technology and art. His projects examine and analyse forces, simulations, and patterns present in nature, which he brings to life through a digital medium. The results of his process of digitising nature sometimes break the boundaries of reality by hacking their “real-life” visual and performative capabilities. 

Hussain Almossawi is a frequent public speaker and has presented workshops and designs at events such as Saudi Design Week, Bike to the Future, Solidworks Conference in Bologna, and -ING Creatives Festival in Dubai. From 2018 to 2019, he was an adjunct professor at The New School. He taught Human factors and ergonomics and now serves as a member on the advisory panel for Pace University’s Lubin School of Business in New York on the Design Thinking Program. 

His most recent work, Project 365, is focused on evoking emotion through motion. This series of abstract, futuristic, and surreal-looking frames uncover hidden feelings when we look at or hear something in the non-digital world. By applying computer-generated re-simulating forces and object properties through directing, motioning, and curating the sequence of events, the digital objects and materials bend the physical rules and behaviours or their analogue versions. Through the different pieces, either still or in motion, Almossawi aims to elicit positive sentiments of calmness, happiness, fun, and joy.

As a 3D Artist, I feel these emotions when I am designing each piece… and I think that Art is just like poetry, where the artist needs to feel what they are trying to deliver and evoke, yet have an open mind for the person perceiving it to analyse and come up with their conclusion of how they feel and what each piece means to them.

As the world tries to adapt to the “new way of life” resulting from the pandemic, Almossawi hopes to create a digital space for enjoying calm and relaxation as people undergo some lockdown hardships and changes to their everyday lives. 

Almossawi’s interest in the emotions evoked by a product came from his Industrial Design background. He learnt to prioritise the user’s feelings and sensory experiences while designing a product. The second point of his interest also extends to Sensorial Design.

As we have learned in more recent years, the collection of categorised senses extends far beyond the five basic ones we can learn in biology classes. Some recent reports on the topic have proposed that there might be up to 14 different senses that can impact how we perceive objects surrounding us in the analogue and digital world.

Within all his artistic projects, Almossawi’s goal is to understand the inner workings of his inspirations. In Project 365, he focused on the natural rules that define an item’s performance in a physical setting. Once he understands those inner workings, he “hacks” the boundaries of physics and purposefully interferes with the common perception of how objects/elements should behave. 

When it comes to my 3D art, I sometimes mimic certain properties of elements in nature. Sometimes I mess around with it and hack it, so if something doesn’t break, I can make it break if something doesn’t float I make it float, and taking that path of messing with perceptions of how things should look and work is a fun and interesting one. Therefore the outcome does not necessarily have to align with reality in some instances.

(Image courtesy of the designer)
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