An image from Biotop from Polygonia, by Chaotic Atmospheres

Best of Behance: Chaotic Atmospheres

By Charles Purdy

Who: Chaotic Atmospheres

What: Biotop from Polygonia


Behance member since: 2012

The artist Chaotic Atmospheres—also known as Istvan—created this series of 100 “extraterrestrial insects” (with 100 accompanying Night versions) for NeonMob. Insects appealed to him because of their many variations—colors, forms, appendages, wings, pincers, and so on.

Istvan explains, “We are so accustomed to the surprising appearance of our planet’s insects that we’re ready to believe any extravagance for alien insects.”

Images of extraterrestrial insects, from the project Biotop from Polygonia, by Chaotic Atmospheres

The insects were rendered in Cinema 4D and finished in Adobe Photoshop. Istvan uses many different programs to create his work, but he says that Photoshop is indispensable. “The starting points for my 3D projects can vary widely: sculpture with ZBrush, parametric generation with the free program Mandelbul3D, Structure Synth, topographic modeling with TopMod. So I need to have a well-rehearsed postproduction process that allows me to apply the same characteristic look to all my projects—atmospheric effects, lens defects, image grain, and color, for instance.”

These strange insects are beautiful and fascinating—and Istvan has a few guesses as to why they draw people in. “I’ve received a lot of comments from people who say they don’t like insects, but they like this project. I think they like the project in part because they don’t like insects; it’s the dichotomy between the subject—not very ‘sexy’ at first glance—and its rich implementation that’s interesting…. I like the contrast that arises when a repulsive subject is treated in such a way that it’s made attractive. The feeling that results is appealing, for me, in the same way that watching a horror movie, with hands partially hiding my eyes, was appealing when I was a child.” 

Images of extraterrestrial insects, from the project Biotop from Polygonia, by Chaotic Atmospheres

One inspiration for the series was the illustration Sam and Shelob, by John Howe, which Istvan first encountered as an adolescent. Istvan is arachnophobic, and he explains that in this illustration, “Shelob has all the characteristics that I attribute my phobia to—the eyes all over the head, the huge abdomen ending in a sharp stinger, horrible jaws, and above all else the characteristically aggressive pose of the spider. I was fascinated by this image, which was partly responsible for my vocation.”

Istvan always has several projects going simultaneously, as well as ideas he wants to test to see if they are worthy of becoming true projects. He also has ideas and projects on hold because he doesn’t yet have the right technique or the right computing power, or because he hasn’t found software with the function he needs. 

Images of extraterrestrial insects, from the project Biotop from Polygonia, by Chaotic Atmospheres

“It can be very difficult to say when a project is finished—often, it’s a stroke of luck that allows me to complete it. By contrast, I do work with a bit more certainty, and with deadlines, when I work for clients.”

He’s about to finish a new series for Neonmob of more than 200 five-second animations, created with Cinema 4D and Adobe After Affects, representing mini-experiments in “fringe science.” Also coming up soon: a new series for Neonmob called Butterflies from Polygonia. Says Istvan, “I think the title says it all!”

May 7, 2015