Whenever putting something new together, especially something big that you hope others will join you in the creation of, a wink and a nod from the universe can mean everything. Carl Jung referred to those wink and a nod moments as synchronicity. In building steaMG, I encountered a very big moment of synchronicity.
You may have already read in our very first post why I created steaMG. In a large part, my love for sci-fi and science inspired fiction began with being obsessed with time travel books after losing my father in middle school. Those books helped me grieve by balancing the overwhelming sadness with a healthy dose of awe.
As I was pulling together the design and images for this site last January, I went through hundreds of stock images. I kept coming back to several that caught my eye and realized rather quickly that they were all from the same contributing artist, Bruce Rolff. I quickly bought the rights and ran the images by the group. We all agreed they evoked the kind of imaginative obsession with wonder and awe that we were hoping to convey. We made sure to credit his work in a visible way.
I put the site into beta mode and asked friends and family members to take a look at it. My mother promptly texted me and said, “It looks lovely. Who put you in touch with Bruce Rolff?”
It was an odd question. No one did.
I gave her a call. What did she mean? I just found a bunch of images I liked on a stock site and purchased rights. She laughed and told me a story.
It turns out that Bruce and I had met. Only I was in grade school at the time and he was a young man. You see, his sister lived behind my house where I grew up and her husband was my father’s best friend. We have been at family BBQs and holiday parties together. I babysat his niece. In fact, we likely spoke while I was first reading those time travel books.
Synchronicity. A wink and a nod that I was in fact going in the right direction.
And without further ado. Please welcome the very talented and awe-inspiring Bruce Rolff.
First and foremost, do you believe in universal synchronicity? 🙂
Absolutely, I have seen often in my life that things seem to line up. Personally, it happens everywhere, from thinking about someone and suddenly they call, to elements of an image I'm working on seeming to fall into place. I have found that if I pay attention it will happen to a degree that it can even be disconcerting. It's not like it happens every hour of every day, but it does happen often enough. Strange stuff.
As you now know, your work really spoke to both me and the team when we were looking at images that evoked science fiction and awe. What inspires you?
Science, Sci fi, Space, Art, Spirituality, Dreams. I love to experiment and play with image elements, concepts and different software too.
Has this always been an inspiration? How has your work changed over the years?
Hmm, not sure if all of these things inspired me always, at least not artistically. Some did. I think when I was younger I was inspired more by other artists. Although I still do look at a lot of other artists' works. My work has changed dramatically over time. For one, its gotten better and more consistent in quality. There are always some that rise to the top though. I moved from mostly abstracts to more surreal images over time. Digital lends itself very nicely to surrealism. I think that may be why there is somewhat of a resurgence of surrealism these days.
Has digital art always been your medium?
I've done a lot of different things artistically over the years. I started with sculpting, mostly clay, then abstracts on paper with pastels and spray paint mostly, also some paintings on canvas, mostly abstract. I was involved in photography for a long time. At some point I started doing digital art, eventually it became almost exclusively the way I create images. I have gotten back into painting on canvas a tiny bit recently, but I very very rarely work that way.
Your work lends itself to story so well. In what ways has your work been used in the literary world?
My works have been used for covers, as interior art too. There have been sci-fi and spiritual or self help, but other genres too, including color theory, science, many different subjects.
There’s a sense of optimism and beauty to a lot of your sci-fi work. At least, it’s not all doom and gloom. How do you see the future?
For me I think my sci-fi, space and spiritual images are often more hopeful. Although I am venturing into some more weighty, tinged with darkness spiritual images now.
Some of my images may be hopes for humanity, and some for me personally. Things I would like to see and know and feel.
But also in a sizable portion of my work I feel as if I am just showing an interpretation of what I have already seen and experienced. I have a desire to touch an eternal force, to experience God. Perhaps some of these images are an attempt to get back there, to experience God and eternity.
Some of my work also speaks of another such place, a profoundly lonely place, but not a place entirely absent of peace either. A place of longing, a purgatory where loneliness, contemplation and great stretches of time, emptiness and a near acceptance of ones fate combine. A resignation to this not quite comfortable place. A muted acceptance.
Well, those are two of the subjects I cover. Sorry I seem to be partly leaning toward the darker side a little bit here at the moment. Not all of my work is that serious. I have several images that are quite humorous.
In regards to the future I think that the human race has a lot of potential for things to go well. However, we often choose things like war and greed over more enlightened values.
One of the future events that I think could be amazingly wonderful or could be incredibly bad is when we reach the artificial intelligence singularity. If we apply AI to developing more advanced AI and each iteration advances the next in a short period of time we could be going to the stars or learn how humans can live for thousands of years or maybe eternally. So many possibilities! If we apply these advanced AI to dominating the world militarily, which I hate to say will be likely by some, if not many countries, it could end very badly for many people. If one country is applying this to gain dominance, could the others afford to not try to do the same? Or perhaps there would never be a shot fired, but we would have to live under the govt of whatever country then dominates the world. Let's hope if this happens it is a good one! I don't think the terminator thing is likely, but maybe. Most likely at least some of us will be there to find out. The AI singularity could turn our world upside down when and if it does come.
Before the singularity happens though, perhaps long before, AI will probably be doing many of our jobs, including mine. One of the ways my art is used is as stock images. I could fore see AI being used to create an image in any style, from photorealistic to any artistic style or a completely unique style being built pixel by pixel by AI. The images could contain any objects or elements of any kind in any configurations. The AI would create the image to the customers specifications. This would be the end of artists creating stock images, be they illustrations, or art, or photos. No need for artists in the current sense in this field any longer. Perhaps artists will still be needed but in a different capacity. Perhaps the stock image company would hire image creationists that act as an expert to interface between the client and the AI to create an image that is suitable for the clients. Of course, perhaps by then we may not be using 2 dimensional images so AI might be creating 3D images instead. It’s fun to think about.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, Bruce. If you want to see more of Bruce’s art you can visit him at his website http://rolffimages.squarespace.com/