Sanctuary is a beautiful continuation of Ryan Koopmans' exploration of architecture and the effects of globalization. He takes to uncharted territory in his immersive 3D environment depicting lush foliage thriving and overtaking what was once a grand sanatorium and health spa in Georgia. The viewer can truly get lost in the beautiful and tranquil setting amidst the rubble and decay of the structure. In creating this eternal work, Koopmans gives the world an opportunity to explore and appreciate this building just as the real thing continues to succumb to natural elements. Koopmans shares: "With each day that passes, the subject matter gets closer to disappearing".
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Ryan Koopmans explores the intersection of nature and architecture in “Sanctuary”, a continuation of the fascinating series of digital artwork, “The Wild Within”, created by Koopmans and Swedish artist Alice Wexell. The project brings new life to abandoned historic buildings.
Ryan has extensive experience as a photojournalist and has covered notable events around the world for decades. He began creating works for the web3 space that combined his photography with animated elements. The initial release of “The Wild Within” featured photographs of abandoned Soviet-era structures from Georgia. Trees, flowers, and other wildlife were digitally added to each piece and are animated with natural movement.
In “Sanctuary”, Ryan expands on this concept even further by creating an immersive 3D environment to accompany the piece. While the art itself is a single piece intended for a single collector, the corresponding installation will be open to the public.
The focus of the piece is a rotunda in an abandoned sanatorium and health spa. “The ruined building depicted is a real place located in the country of Georgia and has deteriorated more and more every year that I’ve seen it,” he says.
The building’s circular layout and rich detail made it the perfect subject for a 360-degree art installation. “As Alice and I were preparing to travel there and photograph it, I could only hope that it was still standing,” Ryan says. “Luckily it was, albeit more deteriorated than the previous years. With each day that passes, the subject matter gets closer to disappearing.”
While this piece is a continuation of a previous series, it also explores uncharted territory in many ways. “I’ve always wanted to create an immersive space,” Ryan says. “The collector of this piece will have the benefit of owning this ‘genesis’ artwork that explores this immersive concept and technique for the first time.”
“Sanctuary” is a piece that has been years in the making, as Ryan has visited its subject location many times over the years while conducting research for his work. After photographing the sanatorium extensively, he transforms the image into a three-dimensional structure using a variety of digital tools. The final step is to edit the natural elements into the piece, adding light and movement as well as a variety of foliage.
“The process of photographing this building was a complicated one,” says Ryan. “Having returned to Georgia specifically to shoot this structure, I was faced with torrential rain and limited light. The photographic process of capturing all aspects of the interior took two days and thousands of photographs. The deep muddy floors, cracked ceilings with dripping water, and crumbling concrete falling sporadically all makes for a harder process when photographing for hours on end.”
The experience of creating the piece heavily informs the final product. “The sensory experience of entering these buildings is one of the most impactful parts of the creation process,” says Ryan. “It’s also a profound experience to meet local people, some of whom have known these buildings back in their prime. They’ve witnessed not only the collapse of the structure itself but also the collapse of the political ideologies and social fabric of the country as a whole.”
Moving forward, Ryan plans to create more individual pieces like “Sanctuary” with a focus on creating work of the highest quality for his collectors. He plans to continue embracing new technologies and meticulously refining the creative process. Making his work accessible to a wider audience is also a priority, and Ryan hopes to develop more physical exhibitions in the future.