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Nicole Ruggiero

A Moment of Bliss
2024, Still Image
Edition of 11
Presented by

A Moment of Bliss was created as a tribute to the default wallpaper of Windows XP, titled Bliss. Bliss is a photograph depicting luscious green hills under a bright blue sky with white clouds, taken by photographer Charles O’Rear and licensed by Windows in 2000 for their new operating system.

Released in 2001, Windows XP was more intuitive to use than its predecessors and acted as the backdrop for the burgeoning Web 2.0. Web 2.0 was a time when the internet went from static web pages hosted by platforms like Angelfire and Geocities, to a more social internet, filled with networking sites like Myspace, Livejournal, and Facebook. It was a time when the world opened up just a little bit more, allowing users to connect in a faster, more interactive, and natural way.

Windows XP, and specifically the wallpaper Bliss, also kickstarted an aesthetic movement which we have now termed as “Frutiger Aero.” Frutiger Aero is characterized by glossy textures, Skeuomorphism, and images of dynamic water, tropical fish, and cloudy skies — all of which were designed to highlight new computer technology. Monitors went from heavy and bulky CRT displays to crispy and compact LCD displays. Companies used colorful imagery like Bliss to show off this new technology.

As a young Windows XP user, I thought the wallpaper Bliss perfectly captured the new feeling of exploration, discovery, and human connection I felt when interacting with friends on Myspace, browsing the web for new music, or making digital artwork on my new LCD screen. It was and has become such a culturally impactful image, I decided to pay tribute to it by recreating the grassy fields and cloudy sky in a modern 3D fashion along with an unclad female figure that expresses the feeling of newness, wonder, and retrospection.

To add a third layer to the artwork, I designed A Moment of Bliss as a desktop wallpaper for both 4:3 and 5:4 ratios, each of which favors CRT and LCD monitors respectively. I set up an at-home installation using a Windows XP machine and an LCD monitor, and even made a Winamp skin to go along with it. I love how the wallpaper looks with the Windows XP icons on top and Winamp playing alongside on the desktop.

Revisiting the original Windows XP default wallpaper, Bliss, evokes an intense feeling of nostalgia for a time when technology just started to open up, become friendlier, and a little bit more like real life. I set out to recapture these feelings in my new work, A Moment of Bliss, to honor the birth of a special and very exciting period of technological history.

This artwork was completed in January 2024 and was created using ZBrush, Substance Painter, Cinema4D, Octane Render, and Photoshop.

Nicole Ruggiero
Nicole Ruggiero's 3D art merges digital and physical realms, emphasizing personal and interpersonal dynamics in a post-internet society through character, story, and atmosphere, evoking timeless nostalgia.
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