The explosion of crypto art has brought to light a wealth of talented digital artists who gained experience in the film and video game industries before moving into the world of NFTs. Among them, one of the most appreciated is Raphaël Lacoste, born in 1971, French, but living in Montreal since 2002.
The career of Raphaël Lacoste
After a few years working as a photographer and composer in a French theatre company, Lacoste studied 3D graphics at the Centre Nationale de la Bande Dessinée et de l’Image (CNBDI) in Angoulême, where he produced his first short film, entitled Nîumb, which was screened at several film festivals.
After moving to Canada, he started working for Ubisoft as Art Director for the Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed video game sagas, winning major industry awards such as the VES, AIAS and GDC. For a few years he even left the videogame industry to devote himself to Cinema as Senior Concept Artist, Production Designer and above all Matte Painter, specializing in the digital creation of environments, sceneries and fantastic and sci-fi atmospheres. His special touch can be seen in films such as Terminator Salvation (McG, 2009), Journey to the Center of the Earth (Eric Brevig, 2008), Death Race (Paul W. S. Anderson, 2008), Repo Men (Miguel Sapochnik, 2010), Immortals (Tarsem Singh Dhandwar, 2011) and the beautiful Jupiter Ascending (Lana and Andy Wachowski, 2015).
Since 2009 Lacoste has returned to the video game industry as Senior Art Director at Electronic Arts Montreal and Ubisoft, and then founded Haven Studios inc. with some of the original creators of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, of which he is Art Director.
The worlds of Raphaël Lacoste as NFT art
In his visual universe, also documented in the book WORLDS: The Art of Raphaël Lacoste (Caurette edition, 2020), the landscape, described down to the smallest detail as if it were the main protagonist of a story, plays a central role.
Influenced by the imagery of science fiction and cyberpunk, but also by the works of Romantic painters such as Caspar David Friedrich and Albert Bierstadt and contemporary photographers such as Greg Girard and Gregory Crewdson, the universes created by Raphaël Lacoste have helped shape the concept of a hyper-technological future, where immense vertical buildings, similar to new Gothic cathedrals, stand next to apparently uncontaminated natural scenarios.
It is no coincidence that Lacoste calls himself a “creator of worlds”. In fact, the French artist is capable of creating images in which the creative potential of Game Art and special effects is combined with a love for art history, considered as a primary source of inspiration.
The result of this dual formation, rooted in the past but projected towards the future, is also visible in his crypto art works, collected mainly on the Foundation and SuperRare platforms. In particular, the works on SuperRare, which are also the most recent, are accompanied by short stories that place the images in a series of open narrative plots, which the viewer can complete with his or her own imagination.
Some of the pieces, such as those in the AI Metropolis series, recount the stages of the journey of a group of explorers on the border between the wilderness of nature and the monolithic walls that surround the immense urban conglomerates. In this sort of intersection between the natural world and the most advanced civilization, the experience of the Sublime in the era of the Anthropocene takes place.
It is no longer the Kantian feeling of dismay generated by the vision of the destructive forces of nature, as described in William Turner’s Storms or Friedrich’s Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, but a new kind of Sublime, the one we experience, even today, in front of the enormity of human technology and its artefacts. The ultimate testimony to our unstoppable age of Acceleration.