I'm in love with the aesthetics Jesse Kanda (among others) use in their works. I've been trying to figure out what techniques these artists are using – it almost looks like photos of sculptures. I don't get how this can be done in Illustrator or similar softwares. Any ideas? Is it even computer-made?
At first: JK seemingly had a chance to take photos of dead malformed fetuses, severe injuries, the visible effects of venerical diseases, people under autopsy, skinned animals etc... nice and beautiful.
JK also can color and warp normal (and abnormal, too) forms to something more interesting. Think for example a face with open mouth. By recoloring the teeth to nearly black and the fleshy parts inside the mouth to something rotten something is achieved. Add to it warping the face countenance to look out tortured, some blood and a king size snot hanging from the nose. Imagine the rest by yourself.
The sculpt-like photos are technically demanding. The original image can be taken of a human. In the black ones a human can have been greased with some dark, but shiny substance. The background is removed and the image has got the needed warping.
Surely some transforms from flesh to sculpted material are also made in the computer. Here I tried something elementary in Photoshop:
Left: Applied high contrast, heavy smart blur, coloring with a gradient, some blending mode with blurred original to turn also the shadows to highlights, coloring with hue shift, more contrast.
Right: the original image
Some of his works are photographed-based (FKA Twigs, Bjork album covers), but the rest are definitely modeled/sculpted in 3D software and then rendered—possibly with some editing in Photoshop. I don't know what software he uses for modeling/sculpting/editing, but I'm guessing Cinema 4D.
If you look at some of the music videos he's crafted, it becomes clear that he uses 3D software for the majority of his work.