For animator, filmmaker and designer Ben Steele, the true potential of his work first became evident in 2001, upon announcement that his first serious digital interactive, “subterranean”, was to be exhibited in the National Museum of Art in Rome among just 30 artists from around the globe. Each piece was heralded as a prime example of art as technology on the cutting edge.
Queen Sophia of Spain honored the Biennal de Valencia for which subterranean was commissioned with her presence and its memorable final image was even used as part of national tv coverage of the event. Mr. Steele’s next piece “superelectronic” not only won Tokyo’s prestigious CDCC award, but also featured prominently in a US advertising campaign for Canon and even came under study as part of digital arts courses at NYU and UCLA.
Expanding his insatiable desire for digital expression, Mr. Steele next produced, almost single-handedly, the 3D cult-classic animated film “Fragile Machine”, named by online magazine cyberpunkreview.com “The Best Animated Film of 2005″. A fashion exhibit at Taipei’s Future Imprint: Techno Dream Sphere Festival followed soon after, sponsored this time by Acer. Study of his work expanded to both the University of Virginia, which included Fragile Machine among the curricula for classes on Postmodern Storytelling, and Hong Kong University.
Haute-couture paragon Thierry Mugler took note of Mr. Steele’s love for fashion photography when they collaborated in Paris on the one of a kind “Living Spaces” interactive. The online version of Living Spaces branched out even further, featuring a musical score composed by Ben and cohorts from the burgeoning west-coast electronica scene.
Hollywood came knocking and Ben’s next project was the most massive of his career: production and world-design for a full-scale feature film and videogame franchise called “Kitaru”.
With such a diverse body of work, is Ben a photographer, designer, filmmaker or something else? “I see my work bridging the gaps between these fields: fashion, film, online gaming and music and inextricably connecting them in a totally new way.” On breaks from Kitaru and other major projects, he also found the time to art direct an online virtual world in 2008 and design a charity line of illustrated pillows for children suffering in a local hospital burn ward.
He sums up his approach to choosing work succinctly, “I only accept projects that inspire me because that’s the only way I know that in the end, they’ll make a difference. The finest art not only inspires us, I think it actually makes us whole. It speaks without saying a word.”
“I have always been fascinated by computer graphics and videogame since I got my first pc (intel 8086 – 4 color monitor) and using BASIC to draw very simple objects on the screen. Having no chance to study computer graphics either in high school or university due to the lack of computer graphics “culture” in my own country, I decided to graduate in computer science while continuing to learn computer graphics by myself.
After graduation I decided it would be my career, so I took Autodesk Maya certification and a master in computer graphics and virtual reality in Turin. I’ve spent the last 5 years working as a 3D modeler and texture artist for various independent game studios and now I have the great opportunity to work together with extremely gifted people in the Kitaru team.”