Poetically Based Rendering

In collaboration with artist Nayeli Vega

Poetically Based Rendering proposes multimedia eco-fictions to imagine ways of acknowledging and being with natural and artificial ecosystems. Using processes that move fluently across dimensions and methods, the physical and the virtual, the analog and the digital, we materialize 3D creatures, texts and environments inspired by four bodies of water in Germany. From an artistic perspective, we recognize the ecological emergency that threatens bodies of water at a global level. Given the rapid effects of climate change, water pollution, and habitat loss, it is crucial to decentralize and diversify our visions of a shared future. We suggest imagining interactions with non-human creatures who exist outside of reality and outside of universalist systems. We use fiction to engage with reality and imagine how close relationships with a body of water nearby might look. What a spiritual connection to water might entail, resemble, or signify. What might the interaction between a river and a human be like if it were mutual?

Baumschulenweg assemblage with catkins

The name of the project comes from the scientific term Physically Based Rendering (PBR), a method for creating photorealistic digital imagery by modeling how light works in the real world. Poetically Based Rendering, like the PBR method, invokes the real in the virtual and looks to the speculative power of the fictional to enable new strategies for connecting human and non-human worlds.

Inspired by the researcher and cultural theorist Astrida Neimanis, we decided to “work with the bodies closest to us.” The Britz canal in Berlin is our local waterway, the Oder river is in our Brandenburg region, the Peene river connects us through companionship, and the Main river connects us through the familiar. These four bodies of water each have distinct characteristics and histories. We approach past human relationships and interactions with these bodies of water to understand the present. Playfully, we create weavings, rituals, costumes, tales, river ghosts, and objects and use technological tools to transfer tangible materiality from the real world to the virtual dimension.

The project tries to expand our imaginations toward a possible outcome with each river’s life.


The work is liminal, at the crossroads of disciplines and dimensions. We fantasize about how to coexist with complex, living systems like rivers. From field research, textiles and storytelling to digital design and artificial intelligence, our methods traverse the real and the digital.

We begin with a search for local bodies of water, followed by a site visit. Once there, we take some time to explore, sit, listen, smell, and observe without devices. Then, recordings of sound and images are processed using digital tools (Photogrammetry/Polycam, Materialize, Blender 3D), resulting in the materials and forms that exist in virtual worlds. With the help of game engine technology and artificial intelligence collaborations (DALL.E and GPT-3), we can combine narrative and visual media in a virtual world.

Poetically Based Rendering is funded by the Stiftung Kunstfonds NEUSTART KULTUR Stipendium.