This Toronto artist creates some seriously surreal views from the 6ix
Drake's not just a fan — he's a collaborator. Meet Voidz, our latest Exhibitionist in Residence
When you start a new hobby, a new creative project — whatever you do to stay happy and sane after a day at the office — the objective probably isn't scoring an invite to Drake's house. But hey, it could happen. Just look what happened to this guy.
In the summer of 2018, a Toronto-based freelance designer started anonymously posting motion graphics to Instagram. The project was his way of scratching a creative itch his day job couldn't quite take care of, and you can call him and the project Voidz — a title that points to the project's basic M.O. "I go out in the world kind of seeking an empty space, kind of a void that I can put something into," he says.
The "world," in this case, being downtown Toronto, and the "something" being 3D interventions with a vaguely sci-fi bent: shopping carts take flight outside the Duff Mall; a black hole swallows a patch of Kensington Market. Or, in one extra special post, Drake scores infinite three-point shots on his in-house basketball court. (And not some 3D-animated fake Drake — the actual Grammy-winning pop star.)
"Yeah, he hit me up," says Voidz, and the two started talking about working together after @champagnepapi popped up in his DMs. The basketball concept was Drake's idea. According to Voidz, he'd noticed how most of the posts were set in big, open spaces — and his personal, NBA regulation-sized court seemed to fit the description.
Voidz says he wasn't commissioned to make the post, or the two additional pieces that Drake's still sitting on. ("It was just a collaboration," he says.) But whatever those two mystery clips look like, a Bridle Path mega-mansion is hardly the usual setting for a Voidz joint — something you might have picked up during last week's episode of CBC Arts: Exhibitionists. (We featured some of his creations on the show.)
"I think some of the themes that come up in my work are the evolution of our city with gentrification, condos," he says, and even when there's no message behind a post — when he's just making straight-up "digital eye candy," to use his phrasing — Voidz has an affection for what he calls the grittier corners of Toronto. A still of the so-called "Hooker Harvey's" at Jarvis and Gerrard attracted some press in late 2018, for example. (The computer-generated swarm of meal trays and soda cups and cigarettes and needles puzzled a few folks on Reddit.)
"Some of it, like the Hooker Harvey's piece, that's just me trying to preserve these interesting little stories of the city that are slowly going away as rent goes up, and as smaller businesses and artists are having a harder time affording the city." It's not unusual that a location might disappear after he shoots it, either .(A College Street autobody shop, captured in this post, "is now just sort of a pit in the ground.")
"I think a big inspiration is trying to preserve these artifacts of the city," he says — and he's out with his camera every week, on average, gathering footage of street corners and parking lots. To twist the scene, sometimes literally, he'll use programs including Cinema 4D, Octane Render and After Effects. Any given piece might take him two days to produce — a speed that was unthinkable, he says, when he first started his career as a motion designer. (In his 30s, Voidz says he's been working in film and TV for 10-15 years.)
And those advances have helped grow a community of similar motion designers online. Justin Leduc, previously covered on CBC Arts, also messes with Toronto landmarks. (Search any number of related hashtags — #motiondesigners, #vfx, #cgi, etc. — and a little scrolling will reveal warped realities in the U.K., Russia, Chile, Iran and other unidentified international locations.) Beeple is one of Voidz's favourite digital artists in the space. (That particular artist is committed to cranking out a cursed image a day. The volume, says Voidz, is an inspiration.)
"Now, where technology has gone and creativity has gone, we have the ability to kind of art direct the space around us, which has never really been possible for one person to do."
Check out some of his posts.
See more work by Voidz on CBC Arts: Exhibitionists. Watch it on CBC Gem.