Seeing Past the Gimmick of 3D Photography

(All images courtesy the artist, Matjaž Tančič)

LOS ANGELES — 3D is experiencing a bit of a renaissance, what with 3D films and 3D GIFs becoming all the rage. Heck, you might count 3D printing into the mix, with printed cookies now possible. But I still long for a 3D practice that takes 3D past the simple fact of its three dimensions and gives us a little more.

When I first stumbled upon Slovenian photographer Matjaž Tančič‘s 3D fashion photos, featuring skinny Chinese models next to Chinese architecture, I thought it was more of the same. But scrolling through them, I realized something about them worked. Formally, they’re quite good, but there’s a possible conceptual angle too. I was brought back to my explorations of China, from its classical buildings turned into tourist attractions to its age-old neighborhoods ready for bulldozing to the influx of new architecture from the West. The extremities of contemporary Chinese architecture, so often depicted as a science fiction planet of glowing galaxy buildings and their replicas, can feel unreal at times.

I’m not sure how much I agree with DesignBoom’s assessment, noting that “3D fashion photographs are a personal reflection, the models and the concept both represent the author himself: from living harmoniously with nature to taking on the aggressive game of the urban jungle.” But what I do see is an interesting way to take apply 3D photography to a subject that can seem so remote at times.

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China’s rapidly expanding cities and architecture can really only be appreciated with a visit, but 3D photography can at least help these 2D images leap from the screen. As well, there’s a line to be drawn between the gimmicky, gee-whiz factor behind 3D and the gimmicky, gee-whiz factor of a lot of this flashy architecture. I hope Tančič and others follow this thread and push it further past fashion shoots. There’s potential with this idea.

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