My first memorable encounter with a digital human was in the late 90s with the debut in Korea of Adam, the virtual singer. Adam stood out in his music video at the time, with his plastic look, oozing out of the uncanny valley. He went downhill shortly after his debut; if only he had waited to be rendered now. Digital bodies have continued to be grown, modified and harvested. We’re now living in an age where we take them for granted, mainly because of their ubiquity in videogames and movies. CGI bodies and environments have entered into the realm of the banal.
The texture breathes life onto the surface of the all-surface digital body. The color of figures rendered in 3D modeling software, grey by default, get customized to fulfill their user’s need for identity. Rendered bodies with representational surface textures take down our mental barriers, and take steps closer towards being at one with their users. Our sandbox avatars become the virtual skinsuits that we wear in these digital worlds.
The bodies are created in response to this phenomenon of banal CGI and virtual skinsuits. Is the digital surface-body able to become a similar medium of idealization, openness to identification, and the hyper-real in the context of the physical world? Surface textures are brought into the physical world where they take on a puppet-like shape. In the process it, however, loses its qualities of idealization and amplification. These concepts, essential to the make-up of our CGI worlds, show their limits when brought into the physical world.