Polygonhawk

The reality is, to come across aesthetics generally associated with polygon-based imagery outside the digital domain can be considered a somewhat rare occurrence, most likely due to the distinctive fundamentals and principles the medium is based on.

But it does happen.

One of my favorite cases of such are sculptures made of archival card and foamcore by Susy Oliveira, in which an aesthetic principle basically jumps off from the computer screen into the tangible reality, in a quite elegant manner.

So, as we noticed in the previous discussion, there are indeed times when reality uncannily imitates art and not the other way around. And to be more precise, computer-generated such. Furthermore, in addition to the case of NASCAR headlights echoing old-school texture-mapping, I made a brief remark about a fighter plane known as F-117A Nighthawk, implying how it resembled to an extent of something made out of polygons, and relatively a few of them.

I do acknowledge that a visual appearance such as of a stealth fighter is designed for various, non-aesthetical reasons, like aerodynamics and more importantly, to deflect radar signals. Even so, I find it extremely fascinating when aesthetics found in the physical reality collides with of the virtual world, like it does in this mysterious, pointy plane.

Better yet, as said in the NASCAR post, where things get really interesting is when this kind of “mimetic art” (if you can say so about a military vehicle) is in a way brought back to its original, aesthetic environment. As one can notice from the above Nighthawk model extracted from Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X., the polygon-mesh isn’t just an estimation of the surface of the plane, it is the surface.

Obviously, there’s a myriad of real world shapes with similarly minimal geometrical properties, and thus equally analog to low-poly imagery. Examples that come to my mind are certain buildings, designer furniture, home electronics, and so on. But what then made Nighthawk so special in my mind must have been the context, as fighter planes at large tend to be more complex in terms of overall geometry.

Indeed, when comparing the model of Nighthawk to other select aircrafts found in TC’s H.A.W.X., the Nighthawk’s polycount was noticeably lower than the average, and thus substantially more “polygoney”. Sure, F-22 Raptor came close too, as it bears similar stealth design, but in my mind, Nighthawk is still a premium example of what I’m trying to convey here. Additionally, the difference would probably have been even more dramatic if I had compared only the fuselages of the planes, since a chunk of the polygons go to the landing gears and other minor detail.

All this actually makes me think of the famous Death From Above –scene in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, which could be seen as a video game mimicking a weapon mimicking a video game, and I believe the whole point of that scene was exactly to emphasize that absurdity.