Documenting visual thinking

On the 11th of May 2017, I had the opportunity to ran a workshop exploring the use of VR to create a reflective journal. 12 participants (UAL students and staff) took part on the event held at Conway Hall Library.

We started by experiencing a VR sketchbook that I had built previous to the session, then we reviewed the creation workflow, participants were quite keen on understanding how they could adapt this technology to document their creative process.

We explored specific ways to integrate content such as journal pages, drawings, photos, 3d objects and videos. This is a video showing the interior of my VR sketchbook.

Immersive reflection – A VR sketchbook

A couple of weeks ago I started building this VR piece for an Academic Support event that will be held on the 11th of May, at the beginning I felt that it was kind of silly to make a sketchbook using VR, after all, it takes a lot of time without and it does not feel like a practical thing to do.

I have to say that after a while I felt that this exercise allowed me to refresh my memory around my practice as I had to go back to look at very old posts, I also felt that it was quite nice to walk around old and recent thoughts although I have to say that I did focus on just one of my projects in order to keep this task simple.

At the moment I feel that I need to spend more time wandering around this space as I have spent most of the time working on it and sorting little challenges like playing a video and replacing one of the VIVE controllers with a flashlight (something I wanted to do for a long time).

I really think that VR allows you to observe your notes from a quite unique perspective and now I am thinking about expanding this little work to include other projects.

Inside the cave – Revisiting the painting

Last week I was able to make a video render of the digital model from my landscape #13 piece. As a final touch, I added a soundtrack by Wagner called “Die Walküre”, I selected this musical background because I wanted to make a connection to a piece called “Der Riese”, a video made by artist Michael Klier. In this piece, Michael used the footage from an airport’s surveillance camera and by adding the sound, he created a narrative that was not meant to exist in the original material.

I am quite pleased with the end result. As a painter, it is quite interesting to me to be able to explore a piece from within and I feel this is really changing and expanding my approach to painting and sculpting and now I am trying to reflect on all the things I am subverting within my practice.

The active viewer

By escaping flatness, the image folds and grows on itself, so the gaze of the viewer is challenged by not being able to see everything from a set point of view, at this point, I am aware that not every viewer feels comfortable about this challenge but I also know that this opens a whole bunch of possibilities for the viewer to interact with the piece.

The evolving image

Painting sometimes becomes boring, I have to say that more than one time in the past, I have felt that the piece I was working on, became so familiar, that working on it was as enjoyable as brushing my teeth. Since I started working on 3D paintings, especially on the standalone ones, I feel that I am constantly challenged by them, not only from a technical point of view but also from a perceptual point of view, and I feel that, by not being able to see all the image at once, it keeps changing.

Shaping accident

Although I knew that using a sculpture as a canvas was a way to challenge my practice as I needed to constantly adapt due to changes in light and terrain, I was not able to imagine how the piece would actually look from within, I guess I was not aware of how it might actually mutate once I added the artificial lighting, changed the scale and added a floating point of view. Another thing I also discovered is that I could potentially intervene bot

Controlling the gaze

By using a camera that runs through a path, and then rendering a video, I am partially controlling the way the piece is looked at. Of course, one could argue that the viewer is now looking at a video rather than looking at a painting, however, I think that by being confronted with the physical sculpture, both elements become strongly bonded inside the viewer’s mind.

In the VR piece, more control is given to the viewer as he/her is able to move his/her head in any desired direction, however, I still have control over the path that the viewer is following.

Seeing with rhythm

For many years I wanted to add sound to my pieces, although I am not creating it at the moment, I am quite pleased to use this magnificent soundtrack, I believe that this adds a new layer to the piece and allows me to increase the dramatic effect obtained with the flashlight-like lighting.

Things to try in the future

  • Make an early 3D model or even playing with the concept of two different layers of paint, one will only be visible from within and the other one will be only visible from outside.
  • Create restricted access areas, forcing the viewer to look from a distance or even prevent him/her from seeing some parts from within or outside the piece.
  • Plan how the camera could potentially move following different paths.

Open call for Anxiety

This blog post is very personal, although it is connected to my practice (I guess everything in my life is), this is my reflection about something that has been affecting me on a personal level; my ever-growing list of artistic opportunities.

This Easter was a nightmare for me as I discovered that I was trying to “bite more than I could chew” and funny enough I was not even able to submit my proposal to just one of the competitions.

I remember a similar time when I decided to create a whole set of pieces for an exhibition in NYC in 20 days, it all started when somebody I knew offered me the opportunity to exhibit there and I decided to turn a holiday break into a nightmare. At the end, it went well… kind of… I did not sell anything and also ruined the trip for me and my girlfriend as we did not even visit Central Park!!!.

I have been like through all my artistic career, I remember that on one year I applied for more than 20 opportunities and was involved in more than 6 exhibitions.

It is a marathon, not a sprint…

A couple of weeks ago I saw an interview with artist Grayson Perry and he advised that artists should think always compare their career to a marathon rather than a sprint. This analogy was perfect for me, especially because since the beginning of this year, I have been feeling tired and more than inclined to make changes in the way I am pushing myself.

Although I have been trying to pay attention only to opportunities that truly connect with my practice, I did not set any kind of rules regarding whether I decide to take part or just let it slip away.

I guess it has always been hard for me to draw my limits. I tend to say yes a lot (as Jennet pointed out) and I am really bad when estimating the amount of effort that a project will actually involve. I even remember that a close friend told me that I always set unrealistic personal goals… maybe it is time to start listening.

A set of rules

I really feel that I need to change my strategy in order to cope wit my practice in the long term. So, whilst holding hands with the spirit of change, I declare that from now on:

-I will only deal with a maximum of two applications per month.

-I will never make new work for an application, I will only push myself to finish work that is already in process.

-I will give myself at least one week to review CV, BIO and STATEMENT.

-I will give myself at least 3 days to take proper pictures and/or document the work I am submitting.

I will never spend more than £40 for competition fees.



Physical Digital Residency – Wimbledon College of Arts

Last week I was invited by Jennet Thomas to do a 5-week residency at the Print and Time-Based Media Studio, I am really excited about this opportunity as it will be a first for me.

This will be a great opportunity to test some ideas and especially, to keep developing my collaborative skills, I really like the idea of working with BA students and learning to work with them on a project that might lead to an exhibition.

This is an image of the studio I will be placed on.

And this is the poster I am using to promote the Residency.

I also plan to create at least one post for every day I spend at Wimbledon College.


British Museum – looking for META-IMAGES

Last month I visited the British Museum for the first time, my goal was to find pieces that could be linked to my concept of the META-IMAGE, I saw images on top and inside of Sarcophagus, covering Greek pottery, various sculptures and a box to collect money from people attending a religious ceremony.

My reflection

Images seem to be a quite important part of these objects, however, I was surprised to conclude that in most cases the image followed the function, a function that goes beyond artistic expression. This made realise that my work is quite different as the image is the one that actually dictates the shape of the object.

Interpolating images – Connecting realism by abstraction

Today I was thinking about a question that has been bouncing inside of my head for quite a while; how to connect abstract with realistic painting?

I recall that around 2012, I had the intention to make an abstract painting from one I was already making, I do not remember which was it but I remember the idea and how interesting and silly it seemed, anyway, I did not through with it.

At the beginning of this year, while I was working on the piece “portrait of my wife”, I experienced a Deja Vu while I was trying to connect two different parts of the meta-image. I realised that somehow I was painting abstract as I was not trying to represent something specific but rather using the brush to connect different areas of the piece while allowing my unconscious mind to dictate the next move.

After this experience, I wanted to push things a bit further so I started working more challenging painting/sculpture. This was a fascinating experience as I was able to let myself go a lot more than before.

My reflection:

I believe that this has helped me to understand that instead of connecting several images I am reacting to them in a pictorial way, this means that something new is emerging from this process, something that is not a direct depiction of something but rather a subconscious reaction to the images.


The last image – why bother?

On January, I submitted one piece for a competition, it is called “Portrait of my Wife”, at that moment I struggled with the images as I felt that they were no good, this was partially due to that in the past, I took pictures of flat paintings and now I have to learn how to properly take photos of a 3D object.

Days later I was informed that my submission was not successful, so,  After shaking the bad mood, I went back to take a look at the materials I sent, specially the images.

I guess that, because I haven’t seen them in a while, I was able to spot important flaws in the images I submitted, to make it simple, I would say that if somebody does not know my work, he/she will have a lot of trouble to read what my work is about from dose images. This was a breakthrough.

Since that moment I understood that I needed to pay lots of attention to the way I was trying to present my work, specially if they do not know me or my work and if neither my work or me are present for the introductions.

This is why, last week I spend quite a good amount of time on my uni studio, trying to take a good pictures of my latest piece, pictures that might work together to give others enough information to make a decision.

I have to say that it was quite a challenge as I was trying to present both a painting/sculpture and a video.

My reflection:

I have to say that this exercise has raised many questions in my mind regarding the way I document my work, the amount of time I dedicate to this activity and most importantly; am I successful on it?

I must say that I feel challenged, not only by the fact that now I have to document 3D pieces but also that they might exist both physically and digitally.

3D Liquid light – Subverting Black and White Photography

I have to say that It has been more than 3 years since I wanted to do this exploration.

I believe that it was around 2013 when I started wondering about how to project and fix an image onto a 3D surface. At that moment I was doing a lot of screen printing and also was exploring projection mapping.

It wasn’t until this year’s low-residency, that I had the opportunity to go back inside of a dark room (my last time was around 1993). this is how I met John, he is a great technician from Camberwell and he helped me to do quite a lot of photographic weirdly shaped pieces of photographic papers.

This experience encouraged me to take things further, and John was kind enough to introduce me to Hayde, she is an expert on liquid emulsion, and after a few weeks she was able to help me do pretty interesting experiments over a couple of sculptures.

In her words “this was a very successful attempt”, basically because I was able to keep the emulsion on the surface and also because I was able to reproduce bits of images.

This has encouraged me to keep pushing things forward, my plan is to spend most of the following week, devoted to create my first photographic meta-image.

The social market and the consumer society

Since the beginning of this year, I started thinking about social media and how one interacts with other people through this digital platforms, at one point I realised that it is possible to compare the dynamics of these interactions with the ones occurring inside of a marketplace where content becomes the main commodity supporting all transactions.

These transactions work a quite differently from the traditional exchange of goods and services between buyers and sellers; people offer content in exchange for likes, comments and content sharing. Of course, there is a commercial dimension to this, but I rather focus on the social interaction.

It is possible to think that this social market is actually a visible feature of the consumer society, a society completely permeated by the market values.

In this talk, Michael Sandel is talking about the role of money in our society and the effects it has on interactions and even on the “commodities” it buys.

Although my focus is on social exchange, I think there are a lot of interesting things about money and power and I really feel that in order to be able to depict present times, I have to deepen my research on this topic.

Again, although my focus is not on money, it is unavoidable to think about Exploitation and Degradation as pretty important facts that affect a huge chunk of the population.

My Reflection

I understand that my intention to depict reality has to embrace both global and local views, I am aware that my visual language has to evolve in a way that is able to zoom in and out from both conflicting and unrelated facts of existence and I guess, that my next course of action, should be to create a diagram or a map about this reality.