These 3D Grid Worlds Defy Space and Time

Painter Marie-Dolma Chophel makes grids she calls "nets" and "suspended skeletons" using computer software and a projector.

DJ Pangburn

DJ Pangburn

Falling. Image: Marie-Dolma Chophel

Dislocation of place and identity across space and time might be the operating order of our modern world. Technological effects—high velocity travel, instantaneous Internet, media-defined identities, and so on—create multiples of billions of worlds, where we never quite know who we are, where we're located, or where we're heading. 

Within this milieu, New York City-based artist Marie-Dolma Chophel is out there mapping this highly fragmented, abstracted, and always in flux territory. As Chophel will tell you, it has a little to do with being born out of the “interbreeding” between French and Tibetan parents. Identity within space-time interested her from a very early age. And so Chophel's painted landscapes have the look of static 3D-rendered images. Grids, or “nets” and “suspended skeletons” as she variously calls them, unfold and recede along vast imaginary distances.

Untitled. Image: Marie-Dolma Chophel

To create some of her most recent paintings's nets, Chophel uses computer software to create her 3D grids, then painstakingly transfers them line by line onto canvas or inked paper with a projector.

In Melting, Chophel imagines a grid of mountains succumbing to some entropic disintegration, all set against an impossibly surreal atmosphere. Untitled features a Tron-esque grid mapped horizontally, receding toward a vanishing point, upon which snowcapped mountains sit like massive pieces on a chess board.

“The motifs I use depict spaces without geographic reference—chronicles of imaginary lands inspired by topography, ancient cartography, Asian estamp and landscape painting,” Chophel writes on her website. “My first impulse was to develop a language of forms that could communicate the feeling of a different dimension of space-time, thinking the world as a constellation of related forms, places, ideas and people.”

Melting. Image: Marie-Dolma Chophel

“Today we know the surface of a world that has already been entirely mapped out and pictured, and we can cross it in few hours,” she adds. “But it stays intangible as traveling is not truly 'knowing' the world but experiencing it as a simulacrum.”

As Chophel reminds us, the world we see on our mobile devices, on Google Maps, in the cinema, or on the manifold vistas of the Internet—none of it's real. Like Disney World, with these new digital territories, we try to replace our own realities. Chophel, for her part, is trying to make sense of our increasingly simulated world and, ironically, adding more facets to it in the process. She is, like a science fiction author, a world builder.

Meteorites. Image: Marie-Dolma Chophel

For more of Chophel's dimension-warping imagery, visit her website here.


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