Ama Dogbe and Yarli Allison’s residency with Peer to Peer: UK/HK provided a demonstration as to how render art could be used to both conceive and build a better future. Their work optimistically showcased how closely the digital world resembles the real one, and how changes in one can have drastic effects on the other.

Dogbe’s process began with conceptual drawings which she then adapted into rendered 3D models. Her work focused on the malleability of the virtual realm – specifically, the concept of portals. Her creations resemble ribbon-like bodies of shimmering liquid traveling through space. Passing through portals and other constructions, the animation (fittingly) stutters as the objects navigate their environment, the render program sometimes straining to properly process the bodies’ journey. The fact that Dogbe’s computer wasn’t always able to accurately process her requests resulted in numerous glitches, which she compared to the idea of “self,” and how real world constraints manifest when emulated in the digital realm.

Allison’s work in the re-coding of gender and cultural prejudice via the digital realm was thoughtfully encapsulated in her investigation of stem cell technology. Highlighting this technology’s potential to provide opportunities to those at the mercy of pre-established systems fascinates Allison. Her renders blurred the line between conceptual and emulation, theorizing what a real world lab capable of harnessing such technology would mean for procedures like reproduction.

How the limitations and power dynamics of the real world can be broken in the digital realm is a key aspect of both artists’ work. The ways in which virtual spaces (like video games) are coded, and what control is given to or taken away from players, is a point Dogbe keeps in mind when producing her work, believing these spaces can provide vantage to examine cultural biases. Similarly, Allison stated that she enjoys playing open-world games in order to exploit glitches, creating her own narrative and experience.

On that note, I asked the artists about what they thought of using old and outdated render art programs. Allsion and Dogbe both stated they liked the aesthetics inherent to older versions of software like 3ds Max and Cinema 4D, though found more interest in moving forward, reproducing retro-digital art by way of current-generation software. Tangentially, speaking about recent breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI) art programs, both artists were keen to see what AI could produce, even though they tried to avoid it in their work. Much like the limitations of pre-programmed routes of play and interactivity in software, AI art programs are subject to bias. Elliot Wong explored this phenomenon in a recent article for SuperRare Magazine, highlighting how the technology’s prowess is still stymied by its parameters, creating works based off of (sometimes unknown or unintentional) codified biases.

The work produced during this residency holds interesting theoretical potential, and the artists both communicated their enthusiasm to continue their research. Dogbe and Allison’s art challenged not only how I look at rendering software, but how the parameters coded into software may enforce real-world limitations. How we break or modify these parameters in the digital realm could help remold the real world in profoundly liberating ways.


Fellow Traveller. 2021. “Stories are Structures, Videogames are Places.” YouTube. Last modified April 24, 2021.

P2P: UK/HK. 2022. “Day 2: Thursday 29th September. Ama Dogbe and Yarli Allison in Conversation.” YouTube. Last modified September 29, 2023.

Wong, Elliot. 2022. “AI art promises innovation, but does it reflect human bias too?” SuperRare Magazine. Last modified October 18, 2022.

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