From design work for Travis Scott and Post Malone to CGI shorts about dentistry and shoes, Darío Alva is making waves with his brand of mind-bending 3D visual art and film.
My introduction to Darío Alva’s work was through Dazed magazine’s online platform, Dazed Digital. On the first ever cover of the online magazine, Alva poses rap superstar Travis Scott and model Kate Moss as chrome-plated centaurs, with infolds detailing close-up shots of their faces adorned in metal thorns, chains, teeth and bones.
Moss and Scott’s posing looks strange, almost like action-figures being uncomfortably subjected to the whims of a child. It’s stunning in a completely unique way as it immediately asks for the full attention of any viewer. Naturally, I needed to see more of this work.
A quick Google search revealed that Alva — working under the handle @cavecanems on Instagram — is not a one-trick pony.
Digital renders of dragons, machinery, futuristic technology, mutated animals and close-ups of human anatomy all collide to form a beautifully unsettling, uncanny valley effect, dropping the viewer into completely unpredictable worlds and asking them to watch the chaos unfold.
It’s the human touches that make Alva’s work relatable. To simply illustrate a fantasy world is one thing, but to bring a modern familiarity into that world is a different beast altogether. He does this by emphasizing nuances in the human face and drawing inspiration from small things that are generally not given a second thought like an infographic at a doctor’s office.
With influences ranging from Digimon to Greek mythology, his work captures the pace and spread of the modern internet, condensing it into a single image or short video. For this feat alone, Alva deserves kudos.
It is no surprise then that Alva’s content has not gone unnoticed. Having designed the cover art for Post Malone’s singles “Rockstar” and “Psycho,” there is a chance that you may have seen Alva’s material without knowing who he is or what he does. For that, you can’t be blamed.
With the everyday hustle mentality practiced by so many digital content creators, it’s difficult to imagine an artist pulling so much inspiration from cyberspace without himself existing in that same world, which makes this particular artist so intriguing.
Alva’s visuals may be loud, but the man himself keeps a remarkably low profile, having scarce personal information about himself or his personal life online. Unrated describes him as a digital artist and animator based in Madrid known for creating some of the “most bizarre, outlandish, disturbing and captivating visuals.” His Instagram bio only reads “content detritus,” which translates from Latin as “waste content.”
I’ve found describing his work very difficult, but if you decide to peer into this looking glass, you’ll be rewarded with the most intense internet surrealism to be found in modern visual art.
So what does the future look like for Darío Alva? Nobody can say for certain. The next step for any artist’s career is always unpredictable, but the eclectic nature of Alva’s work makes taking a guess a shot in the dark.
Recent collaborations with the electronic music avant- garde queen Holly Herndon and the late-night comedy channel turned Gen Z cultural powerhouse Adult Swim suggest that his projects are only going to get bigger and more absurd.
Fans of his will possibly be forced to wait for new material as his Instagram is only updated once every two or three months.
It’s hard to imagine what the visuals themselves are going to look like — maybe more can-kicking zombie soccer — but there is no doubt in my mind that Alva will continue to pushing the envelope and develop media for an algorithmically enslaved world.
Graphic: Instagram / @cavecanems