“Bioripple” Author and Artist Nir Levie
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The future of technology and its effect on society is a subject matter that is on most people’s minds at one time or another. Artist/writer Nir Levie has released a new graphic novel “Bioripple” through Heavy Metal Publishing, which envisions a not-too-distant future in a beautifully artistic and cerebral way. The Geek Post got a chance to ask Nir some questions about his work and his life.
GeekPost: As an architect, you deal with technical drawings in your occupation. The art style for “Bioripple” is unique and visceral. Can you tell us how you chose this art style and what challenges arose?
NirLevie: My art style evolved during many years of drawing. I don’t feel it as a choice, it’s more like a gradual flux of ideas -Which sometimes coalesce, and other times contradict each other. Some of these ideas are just mistakes I chose willingly to adopt, and others are direct influence from an external reference. That being said, I did choose specific themes before drawing BIORIPPLE. First, I wanted to tell the story from the points of view of the two main characters – Emily and Tim, but the problem was how to present a lot of information in a small panel where what you “see” is what the character “sees”? That led me to study how humans see in perspective. I came across an article called Natural Perspective: Mapping Visual Space with Art and Science by Alistair Burleigh, Robert Pepperell and Nicole Ruta. The study helped me develop a grid that better resembles how the human eye sees. The fisheye distortion conveys more information in a specific view like a panel or a page and allows me to delineate more in less space. Another example is the color palettes in BIORIPPLE. Again, this idea came from a constraint. Every page in the book contains two different sequential points of view. That was a key idea I wanted to keep. But that could have made for a confusing experience for the reader. I chose two limited color palettes to help differentiate between Emily’s arch and Tim’s arch. A lot of the visual ideas in BIORIPPLE came to me in dreams. I usually write them down in a journal in the hopes that they could be an idea trying to find me. I see ideas as entities that exist in the ether which attempt to contact hosts to spread themselves. I try to notice unusual things and record them for later inspiration. As for direct influences I could name Goya, E.M. Lilen, Peter Chung and more.
GeekPost: You have some very interesting characters in your latest graphic novel. Is there one in particular that you identify with? Is it Tim?
NirLevie: There are parts of me in all the characters I create. I usually write dialogue from my life experience. I record interesting interactions or overheard conversations I find important. I write in a mathematical way, and not emotionally. I chose the characters’ personalities to reflect the main theme of the story. In BIORIPPLE Tim and Emily start off as opposites. Emily – A police teacher – A “stopper”, a means of control and limiting. And Tim – The architecture teacher – A creator, a “starter”. Through the story the characters change and evolve. I feel like personally I can sometimes be Tim and other times Emily, Depending on the situation.
GeekPost: There are a lot of things going on with web3 and metaverse that is always in the back of our minds. The subject of your graphic novel and the Geodesics blending tech and humanity and its effects on society are intriguing. How did you come up with the concept?
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NirLevie: I was interested in the concept of free choice as opposed to determinism. I was thinking that this contradiction is very relevant today but It’s also not new in any way. An old Jewish saying “הכל צפוי והרשות נתונה” which translates poorly to “all is foreseen yet choice is given”, was repeating in my mind. I was also inspired by Yuval Noah Harari who speaks a lot about this subject. The real danger of AI is that it will be so integrated into our bodies that it will be inseparable from us as beings, making us vulnerable to attacks and misuse by bad actors. In BIORIPPLE the AI, Geodesics, represents that idea.
I was also interested in past movements that opposed technology. Personally, I’m in the middle between opposing potentially dangerous technologies and the belief that new technologies can’t be really halted. I became interested in the Luddite movement. They were a collective of textile workers that physically sabotaged textile machinery. Many of the anti-technology organizations that came after drew inspiration from their manifesto. But I think that the Luddites are not understood correctly. Their real idea was to oppose the misuse of technology by people in power. Technology is not “good” or “bad” inherently, it is how we choose to use it that matters. The Metaverse for example is not a dangerous technology. But it has dangerous potential – The misuse of its infrastructure for means of control, for instance. But it can also be used for good. I believe the technology itself cannot be stopped, but we can act in political ways to stop this misuse.
All these concepts were floating in my head when I started building the world of BIORIPPLE. I used ideas that came to me in dreams to represent the opposing force to the powerful AI – Biology, nature, and organic matter.
GeekPost: The last frame in the comic was done in a genius way. It leaves us looking forward to the next one. What can you tell us about your decision for that page?
NirLevie: The tree in BIORIPPLE is an important theme. It’s also a self-constructed theme, In the sense that it “chose” me to tell it. It appeared in a dream I had about an old lady living inside a tree. I knew It was an important piece of information and I was determined to integrate it into the story. The last scene of BIORIPPLE tells a different story. You see characters that you know but they are slightly different. The colors are also different. It is somewhat dreamlike but could also be real. When the character sees the tree – This time as a small plant, it ties the scene to the previous story but keeps most of the mystery intact. It is meant to evoke an emotional response and not necessarily to divulge more information about the story. I view it as a gateway, or an opening for a choice. For the future.
GeekPost: Do you consider yourself a geek? If so, what does that mean to you?
NirLevie: Growing up I was usually placed in the middle. I was athletic and played sports but also loved reading and drawing. I was popular but also reclusive and introverted. I think there’s something in me that opposes labels and dichotomies. Everything in society leads us to choices – Our jobs, our relationships, our academic studies. And it was not like that in human history. In the renaissance occupations were vaster. Leonardo da Vinci for example was an architect, an engineer, a sculptor and a painter. The industrial revolution led to us micro-specialize in slithers of occupations. I think that opening our interest to many different ideas could help society as a whole and also improve us individually. To answer your question, yes, I do fit in the “geek” tribe, but also in many other ones.
GeekPost: That is what is so great about having a passion and love for something and wanting to share it with other people. Whether you call yourself a geek or not, it is not about that label. It’s about celebrating the many interests people have and being able to “geek” out about them.
You are an avid climber and an architect and have even designed climbing walls. We’re curious. Are there concept models created for climbing walls or are they done digitally?
NirLevie: If you mean physical models, they are basically instinct at this point. Today we can easily design digitally in 3D and explore the space from the point of view of the user. We can also change materials, lighting, design, location and pretty much everything digitally. That makes a physical model obsolete. What we can’t do yet is climb a wall before it is built. But we can predict the outcome by controlling the specific slope needed, the materials, aesthetics, lighting and more. I use softwares that rely mostly on the GPU (like game engines) to easily make simulations for the designs, and utilize tools for parametric design and to procedurally assist in the creation of complex forms.
Climbing Wall Designed By Nir Levie
GeekPost: What can you tell us about the novels you wrote prior to “Bioripple”?
NirLevie: Outskirts of Vision, my debut graphic novel was about my time in architecture school. I collected drawings of conceptual cities I drew in school and connected them to a story.
In Mycelium seep (Markosia) I wanted to explore means of transportation and identity. I wrote about movement as a concept – Both of the physical kind, as well as the conceptual.
As part of my research for Tale of Supersymmetry (webtoons) I began to extend my interest in physics in order to better understand how current science explains the rules of the universe. In particle physics, supersymmetry is a type of spacetime symmetry. It is seen as an elegant solution to many current problems in particle physics if confirmed to be correct.
GeekPost: Who are some of your geeky influences? How did they help inspire you in your own story development?
NirLevie: Yuval Noah Harari for futuristic concepts, David Lynch for storytelling techniques, David Cronenberg for bio-punk themes, Michelangelo for aesthetics, Goya for sequential art, E.M lilien for inking, Peter Chung for character design, Van Gogh for color palettes, and many more.
GeekPost: Heavy Metal, what can you tell us about how you came to work with them to publish Bioripple?
NirLevie:I finished the pitch for BIORIPPLE and sent it to some publishers and then forgot about it and moved on to a new project. But then I heard Matt Medeney, HM CEO talk in a podcast and thought that this book is a great fit for HM. Some of my influences include HM original creators, like Moebius, and Enki Billal. I sent the pitch to them, and they loved it. Had a quick call with Matt and the project was greenlit. At first it was supposed to be a monthly series but after more staff members saw parts of it they got more excited and decided to release it with Simon and Shuster as a graphic novel.
GeekPost: We understand that you have a kitty! As animal lovers ourselves, we would love to know more!
NirLevie: Petrer is a white deaf cat. He is notoriously cute and adorably annoying.
GeekPost: If there was one thing you want our readers to know about you and your work on “Bioripple”, what would it be?
NirLevie: I want readers to look for the many easter eggs in BIORIPPLE because I seem to misplace them and can’t locate them alone anymore. Let me know if you find any and I’ll store them safely in my subconscious again.