Learn more about Philippe Le Miere 'Dense and green' here.
Philippe Le Miere’s computer generated landscapes are imagined places, created in 2005 before the digital was ubiquitous and AI could mimic creativity. Expansive in person, they began as free-form sketches which Le Miere transformed into 3D computer-generated models and rendered overnight, fog and soft lighting growing from the machine. At once surreal and familiar, the resulting series is a subversion of one of art history’s most conventionalised genres – landscape art – uniting the historic with what was then an emerging world, new media art.
How these places came to Le Miere’s mind is unclear. They are perhaps inspired by where he grew up on the Mornington Peninsula, half-way up Arthur’s Seat overlooking Port Phillip Bay; perhaps they derive from the recesses of his subconscious. As they made their way onto the computer, however, they began to feel more real. “Working within a virtual space, can at times ‘feel real’' reflects Le Miere, “Rotating about a space, tumbling from all sides, effectively tricks the mind into believing that X, Y. Z coordinates are real.”
The computer has a tendency to perfect surfaces. Skin is rendered poreless, skies pristine. To push against this, Le Miere used random noise generators to break the cleaness of his compositions, titling many of them mysteriously – ‘Privacy’ and ‘The good life’ – to strike emotive tones. In the deserted shoreline, grassy fields and hilly ranges of this imagined planet, a strange feeling lingers – like all landscape paintings, the view is a cipher for the human’s psyche. When the works were first exhibited, Le Miere recalls a visitor dismissing them as “just representing a computer game. Surprised, I remember reflecting how this was not the ‘author’s intent’... sometimes meaning can be allusive.”
Our relationship with computer-generated imagery has changed in the eighteen years since these works were created. The fluency of AI, its democratisation, has transformed the digital from just a tool to, for many, a companion. The boundary between what is “real” and “virtual” feels increasingly porous. Le Miere’s landscapes, genuinely innovative in their time, live in this in-between space – they are atmospheric in the way Clarice Beckett’s tonalist landscapes are, yet removed from specificities of place, textures an imported feature not a slight of the artist’s hand. On his early interest in the digital, Le Miere concludes “My experience of the digital medium has always been seductive – I just love working with the ‘machine’.”