Dreaming of Digital Pools

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A series of surreal digital pool designs recently caught the internet's attention.

Amazingly, the artwork is a product of its creator's free time. Jared Pike is otherwise occupied as a product designer in New York City, honing his skills for apps and websites.

"I've gotten over a hundred comments from people saying that they've seen my images in their dreams," he says. "It's an odd and surprising connection I didn't think I'd have with anyone."

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The now-viral series had two sources of inspiration. Initially, Pike was emulating Roccolo's Swimming Pool in Italy to practice rendering water and tile. Its underground location is nearly void of natural light, giving off a mysterious aura that parallels Pike's fascination with liminal spaces.

A liminal space is a place of transition, waiting and not knowing. Hotel interiors, waiting rooms and parking lots are some common examples," Pike explains. "Seeing these places out of context — and without people — evokes a mix of nostalgia, strange familiarity and eeriness in the viewer. These scenes can be challenging to photograph, so I wanted to explore creating them in 3D."

A variety of software helps bring the dreamy visions to life: Blender for 3D modeling, Luxcore for rendering and Lightroom for processing. "After I find an idea that seems appealing, I start blocking it out...generating, manipulating and extruding simple geometry like planes, cubes and cylinders to mold the layout of the space," Pike says. "Then, I move around the light source, and lastly, I place the water, apply textures and bevel edges to make it appear more realistic."

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The length of a project depends: "On average, it takes me about an hour to create the initial scene, and several hours creating test renders with adjustments to get all of the details right," Pike says.

He adds that he very much enjoys the process and plans to keep creating. "I don't know how far I'll take the series, but it's what attracted the vast majority of my followers, so it will take some courage to move on. I'm always looking for ways to keep it fresh — most recently I've started creating nighttime editions with gloomy lighting. The next evolution will incorporate motion and soundscapes to really bring them to life."

This article first appeared in the July 2021 issue of AQUA Magazine — the top resource for retailers, builders and service pros in the pool and spa industry. Subscriptions to the print magazine are free to all industry professionals. Click here to subscribe.

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