By Chloé Harper Gold
A hand is the first thing we see.
Surrounded by a translucent ribbon of blue, it looks like it’s reaching up from below the surface of a body of water. The hand, a pearlescent grey, is adorned with silver rings and long, sharp neon green fingernails.
The focus of Argentinian digital artist Clara Luzian’s recent work, “Visual Syncopation,” is a humanoid figure consisting of a head, neck, and a pair of arms. Below the neck appears to be a bralette held up by a collar with an O-Ring. Nothing fills out the clothing…and there’s nothing that attaches the arms to the neck. Indeed, our minds fill in the visual gaps between the body parts before we recognize that there are missing pieces. The subject’s head is hairless and its eyes are black underneath a pair of thick, bushy brows. Its tongue sticks out through its lips.
The subject, surrounded by streams of blue as well as flowers tinged with the same shade of green as its fingernails, rotates in space. It’s not a smooth turn; it’s glitchy and rapidly back and forth—a literal rendering of the concept of “visual syncopation.” Smooth tones in a minor key punctuated by percussive beats accompany the work.
“I started thinking of it from a musical concept coming from, well, syncopation, which is a disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of the rhythm of music. There are changes your brain doesn’t expect,” Luzian explains. “I thought that could be interesting to work with: How would it be if I had to animate the concept of music syncopation? I’m so used to animating that I have a natural flow in my head of how animation should be. So I started messing with that in my head to create syncopation and then the music part came naturally because I also needed that for the piece.”
“It was like a “come and go” between the musical part and the visual part,” she adds. “It was fun.”
The subject of “Visual Syncopation” is arresting in its form. Not only because of the absent body parts, but because the figure is completely and purely androgynous. The mannequin-like character has a seamless blend of traditionally feminine and masculine accessories and features…and a notable lack of discernible sex characteristics. Luzian shares that she started to interrogate the socially-prescribed binary of feminine and masculine in her own life a year ago. The act of questioning the construct of gender is present in much of Luzian’s work beyond “Visual Syncopation.”
“I prefer not to define a gender for my characters,” she says. “If you look at my past work, all of my characters are androgynes. I don’t want to drive the observer too much to see them from a binary perspective. I prefer to leave it.”
The other curious aspect of the work is how the subject is posed. Their arms are raised in the air and they are surrounded by swirling blues and blooms. It strikes as mythological and folkloric, witchy and yet also playful, like the character is manipulating water or even manipulating the overlaying sound itself.
Luzian described the pose, and the accompanying elements, as simply part of the syncopation.
“You would expect the water to flow, you know?” she says. “But then it’s still and it’s a bit disturbing. And the colors—I’ve been having a huge urge to use bold colors. I’ve been using pastels for most of my works, but now I feel like I want to go for bolder colors.”
And the subject’s pose?
“I think we don’t understand what it’s doing. We don’t understand what the pose is. I just like that it has the tongue out—it’s trying to nail something, right?” she laughs.
Clara Luzian, also known as Render Fruit (“I’m vegan and I feel like my renders are fueled by plants and fruits and vegetables!”) has become notorious for pieces like “Visual Syncopation.” Her online portfolio is filled with digitally rendered works of surrealist art that suck you in and keep you staring at your screen. Many of her pieces are animated; others are stagnant. All of them are visually striking—trippy, even—and intensely haunting and extraterrestrial. Spending time with a piece by Luzian is like getting transported to and lost in a world that you would read about in a Tanith Lee novel.
When asked about her sources of inspiration, Luzian says that everything just comes from her thoughts, however random they might be.
“It’s very chaotic,” she laughs. “[My inspiration comes from] a thought I had, something I wrote, something I read…there are so many triggers.”
Luzian has been creating art for ten years. Her background is in graphic design; she says that she got bored because the images were so still.
“I started animating them in my head,” she remembers. She knew that she had to study animation, but at the time, there weren’t a lot of schools or programs for animation that were near her home. So, she taught herself.
She started with Adobe After Effects and then moved onto Cinema 4D. Jumping into the 3D pool led her to where she is today.
Luzian’s first introduction to the realm of NFTs was in February 2019 with an email from the folks at MakersPlace. At the time, Luzian didn’t know what an NFT was, but made a profile with them anyway. Later that year, she was scouted by SuperRare and her career in the digital art space skyrocketed.
“It has been the most crazy year I have had so far in my career,” she says. “But it’s fun. I really like how active the communities are. It’s a collective. I mean, people like me, working so many years in visual arts, we’re lonely people, you know? The economic side of things is amazing, of course, but the community is really vast and solid. It’s good to have company in an activity that has been very lonely.”
Community in the digital art scene is so special and so important to Luzian that she’s hesitant to name her favorite artists.
“I have many, but I’m afraid I’ll forget someone!” she says. “I really admire Nicole Ruggiero, Alessio de Vecchi, and Fvckrender [to name just a few]. It’s a really talented community!”
In addition to finding community among fellow digital artists, there’s another appealing aspect of the NFT sector:
“There’s the constant feeling of [being in] something that is starting and [that is] going to be escalating for so many years,” she says. “I think about art movements: you have surrealism, expressionism, you have fauvism…you have crypto art. I really like to think about that.”