Nassim L’Ghoul

Zwei Schritte vor, ein Schritt zurück, 2023

Three-channel-video installation
3D animation and machine learning algorythms
05:44 min
Sound Phil Hoffart
Courtesy the artist

Nassim L’Ghoul works with 3D animation to generate digital images that he creates individually for his films. L’Ghoul has produced a new three-channel work for the Frankfurter Kunstverein. His moving images unfold monumentally on three screens positioned in space. The central narrative runs in the middle, extended by two lateral projections.

The title of the work, Zwei Schritte vor, ein Schritt zurück (Two Steps Forward, One Step Back), refers to a practice known as pilgrimage walking, which stems from the tradition of processional rituals. L’Ghoul’s films do not develop in a linear fashion, but rather seem to follow the logic of dreams in which personal associations and fantasies weave and flow into one another. Inanimate objects are given life, have mouths or can walk, miniaturised people move through giant sceneries or speak into oversized telephone receivers, while fantastic beings appear as if from nowhere, only to disappear at once. Individual figures repeatedly break through the picture surfaces and enter a different, underlying dimension.

The main feature of his chosen, reduced aesthetics is the 3D basic model without textures. He models his figures himself, but also makes use of found material that he reshapes for his 3D applications through skilful use of artificial intelligence. He uses physically based light calculations, which the computer performs as an intermediate step in the process of creating images. Using a speedy working method, he omits every unnecessary step from conception to realisation.

The artist seeks the open, unfinished form by using only so-called ‘prepass images’. These are created during the animation of images in the computer process, but are not intended to be the finished result. He uses the intermediate step and deliberately chooses an aesthetic of digital, image-generating technologies. This constitutes the porous, translucent nature of his worlds, which are dream-like in their openness and make it possible to break through from one layer to the next at any time. L’Ghoul condenses his characters and narratives from out of the darkness.  This process results in a dark visual world consisting of black and white dots that reinforce the dreamy, unreal feel.

Sound plays a central role for the artist, who has also produced music videos. For the new work, he has collaborated with sound artist Phil Hoffart. The soundscape embeds L’Ghoul’s images in a tonal atmosphere that highlights individual elements, lending a certain acoustic three-dimensionality.

Forms and figures dominate his works, entering his worlds detached from a classical iconographic interpretation to assert a visual autonomy. This corresponds to an updated practice of sampling, which has established itself as a common working method with the digital culture of reels and memes, and defines the work of numerous artists today.

Employing different visual worlds, Nassim L’Ghoul creates a dimension all of his own from them. His surreal worlds and stories are inspired by art motifs from the Middle Ages and Gothic painting, myths and popular stories. Yet they do not take place in a linear and logical way, but remain open and associative.

Nassim L’Ghoul (*1997 in Bad Soden, DE) has studied electronic media at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach (DE) with Prof. Alexander Oppermann since 2017. In 2020 he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (AT). He has won numerous prizes, including a scholarship from the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes and the Rundgangpreis of the Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach. Among others, Nassim L’Ghoul has exhibited his work at the following institutions: Zollamt Studios, Offenbach am Main (DE), L187, Offenbach am Main (DE), Magma Maria, Offenbach am Main (DE) and at the Best Austrian Animation Festival, Vienna (AT).