Painter M.G. Raffic Ahamed's 3D digital video takes you on a journey into the virtual world

How would it be if Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa could speak or if M.F. Hussain's horses could run? That can become a reality in digital art. In the era of technology explosion, paintings are no longer freeze frames. With the help of animation techniques, the façade of the painting can be transformed into a surrealistic work of three-dimensional projected art.

It was widely believed that professional portrait artists would go out of work when the still photo camera came into existence. But like a brook branching out when its path is obstructed, painters explored new horizons to keep their passion alive.

Adept in adapting to changing trends, artists are now trying to scale great heights with the help of technology, and modern painters are taking art to a different level.

Collage art specialist M.G. Raffic Ahamed belongs to this clan. “You cannot be conservative. As you are part of the world, you should be able to accept change and try to settle in that medium,” he says.

Quick to learn how technology can be used to full advantage, Raffic Ahamed has succeeded in applying animation techniques to his paintings. His digital art works are among those displayed at the Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH) conference in Boston. His three-dimensional video ‘Dreams Stage 3 – Procession' is well appreciated and acknowledged by the art critics in Boston as well as in Madurai.

The element of fantasy in his paintings seems to have impressed his client Nigel Howard in the United States, who brought together professional software experts Amy Alloco, Siddhartha Bannerjee, Swarnab Narayah Ray and Jhula Dey to design the art piece with inputs from Raffic Ahamed. Howard also helped Raffic Ahamed to display the animated 3D version in SIGGRAPH.

“There are several independent 3D animation works but not many paintings are reworked into three-dimensional video. It is not easy as it involves a lot of work, the painter and software expert have to work in unison to bring out the desired effect. The creator should be able to communicate his vision,” he says.

The team has virtually recreated what the painter had in his mind while drawing. Like an endoscopic probe, the video takes the spectator on a journey into every nook and corner of the painting, providing a full 360 degree view of the work and transporting the spectator into a different world.

A keen follower of the latest innovations in the field of art, Raffic Ahamed's decision to embrace digital art comes as no surprise. “Technological advancement is such that your location is immaterial. Wherever you are, you get all the information just by the click of a button. I get new ideas and also I am able to successfully translate them to my works,” he says.

His penchant for history and mystery has driven him to work on a series of art pieces on Lemuria, the lost world. He calls his depictions “magical realism” as he relies on the mystic elements in his subject.

“Luckily, my central subject blends beautifully with the animation, creating a sense of awe in the mind of the spectator. My 3D video starts with focus on the world of realism and gradually moves into the world of fantasy. It is mostly figurative and symbolic. Only those who can delve deep into it can understand,” he says.

Raffic Ahamed too feels that independent paintings can go places with judicious use of computer graphics.

“It is only an attempt to enhance the magic of the painting masterpiece and not to meddle with it. Much like the composer and arranger work in perfect understanding to produce sensational music, the painter and the software professional join hands to produce a virtual world.”

This country, rich in cultural history, has so much to offer to the world, Raffic Ahamed believes. “It will be great viewing if the exemplary works of popular Indian painters including Raja Ravi Varma are transformed into 3D digital art.”