Future Throwbacks

What feels futuristic now will one day be played out and then, in turn, eventually become retro. What stands the test of time and trends becomes timeless. At some point, the idea of possible futures that were imagined in the past provoke waves of nostalgia instead of dreams of what lies ahead. Thai 3D artist Kanapat T finds himself thriving in these liminal spaces of yesterday’s tomorrow. His floating devices shine with scrapes and scratches on textured grey plastics, matte-black sheens, and fogged transparent casing. Screens glow in Matrix-green 8-bit animation and flicker on pale Game Boy LCDs. His work often fuses different, real-world devices together, added with imagined models and designs, like a PlayStation controller featuring punch card computing.

In 2019 Kanapat came across digital art on social media and began teaching himself how to create his own. Once NFT culture exploded with headlines that screamed about artists making tens of millions of dollars, he went into overdrive and committed to producing lots of this art, which fit the day’s NFT aesthetics perfectly. He sees the movement as similar to the online marketplace for video game skins but reimagined for the art world. He works closely with Thai sound designer Chonnipa Sriviriyanone, who goes by the name 814mm and works with many other NFT artists.

Kanapat says that his passion for these type of objects has grown with his deepening role in 3D art, but that he was previously fascinated with analog equipment as an experimental music producer. He’s started collecting retro electronics similar to those in his artwork like old monitors and synthesizers. He also owns stacks of books and photos that he refers to for his artwork, which is all designed from scratch. He shoots many of his own photos for use as studies as well, capturing electric poles and buildings around Bangkok for inspiration. He relishes this theme of retro futurism, even though much of it was designed before he was even born. But in the future he envisions playing around with other time periods and ultimately hopes to turn his works into short films.