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Formless fantasies and virtual escapism with South African 3D artist Scum Boy

Dissolve into a wholly different digital space

Crafting from a kaleidoscopic canvas Scum Boy's, aka Oliver's, world is nothing short of a hallucinogenic head-bang. Human bodies melt only to haemorrhage against his playful yet grotesque sense of humour and branded sneakers. But underscoring the South African artist's 3D landscapes, there is a desire to craft an experimental space without society’s gendered corporeal constraints. 

Credit: Scum Boy

RH: Hiya, thanks for making time to chat with us today. Could you introduce yourself to us and explain where the alias came from

OH: Creatively, I go under the alias of Scum Boy. Haha, the name came from when I was younger, I used to go to this bar in Johannesburg and sleep on the couch with my bag. The people that used to work there became my close friends and they’d joke I was their little scumbag. After dealing with my identity, I figured it'd be cool to call myself Scum Boy. But, you can also call me Oliver, and I'm a 3D artist.

RH: How did you begin designing 3D works?

OH: I used to see all these people on Instagram making really satisfying videos. In my head, I was like, "wow, that is so beautiful, fuuuck, I wish I could make that." Then, I persuaded myself to download the software and just had a go. In the beginning, I had these visions of the beautiful things I wanted to create. However, I'm not classically trained, so I ended up adopting a really experimental style. In 3D, you have to actually know what you are doing. It is like maths or physics, and I didn't know what the fuck I was doing with that. I couldn't make really pristine or clean pieces. This then developed into my rougher and abstracted style.

Credit: Scum Boy

RH: We hear a lot about the impact of filters and digital edits on our mental health. While this is undeniably true, it is often from the perspective of harming young cis-women. This made me wonder whether Augmented Reality and filters might also help creatives challenging notions of the gendered body. What do you think of this?

OH: I think people who get shit for being various - trans folk, Black people, and other people of colour - in everyday life, the digital world can be a safer space to just have fun with ourselves. For me, it is such a relaxing way to express yourself without it being all about your body. You don't have to think about the one you are "born with"; it is like having a playground! Social media can be an escape from the shit you might have to deal with in everyday life.

RH: Is this something that relates to your personal 3D design practice?

OH: For me personally, the reason that I do what I do and why I make 3D art is because I have complete control over it. I create a whole world where I'm fully immersed in a new place; nobody can really tell me what to do, and there are no rules. I can make myself look how I want to look! I think that helps a lot with gender dysphoria because I can alter things completely in this other world which I really love. However, I guess cis-people are more inclined to feel some way about changing one's body because it puts a different pressure on them. But, they don't live the life of a trans person, like myself, who wakes up every morning and is like, "fuck, dude, I wish I didn't have these two tits on my body"! So, I think for dysphoria, it is so nice to disconnect from my body and be in a completely different digital space.

Credit: Scum Boy

RH: For trans-people, especially Black-trans people, the offline world can be very hostile and dangerous. What has been your experience in regards to exploring your identity with Augmented Reality online?

OH: For many trans people and people who like to experiment, real-life can pose such intense problems. You can't experiment with your sexuality, the way you look, or form without there being some dangerous aspect to it. You know, you can't walk around as a trans woman, get all dressed up, and then go outside and feel safe. There is so much anxiety around even small things like that; you can get fucked up easily. With the worlds we create and through our online presence, it helps take away from the anxiety of wondering whether you're going to be safe and whether your life is at risk. So, I see it as a safer space. Straight up, it isn't a hundred per cent secure. People can dox you, and other things can happen. But, it is a lot easier to experiment. In my opinion, these spaces are so much more welcoming than real life. I think you can put anything out there and be like, this is me. More often than not, people will engage with it and respect it, especially if you create a space with your peers who respect and appreciate you. I am all about creating spaces to feel safe and can experiment. However, this is me talking as a white person, and my privilege affords me freedoms that my Black trans contemporaries are not.

RH: Can you share with us a piece of digital art that brings you joy?
OH: There is an artist I really like called Brian Donnelly and he does these Companion pieces. He released an Augmented Reality filter where you can put one of the artworks in your room. I love that because I’ve always wanted one of those figurines but I can’t afford it! I don’t think I will ever be able to afford it. Through Augmented Reality, I can put one of his sculptures into your room and I think that's fucking cool.

Interested in more? See below...

Scum Boy was recently featured in an award-winning short documentary that traverses the off-the-wall psyche of Generation Z by way of the visionary 3D artist, Scum Boy - a young South African, Jewish trans man living his life with illuminating fearlessness.

Scum Boy by Allison Swank | 4:3 Short Films

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