On April 2017 I was invited by Artist/Reader Jennet Thomas to do a 5-week residence at Wimbledon College of Arts, so, from April 19th until May 18th and for two days a week, I had the opportunity to set up a VR camp in the middle of the Print and Time-Based Media (PTBM) Studio, a big and well-illuminated room located on the second floor of the College’s intelligent building.
My plan was to display and allow students to experience a VR piece that I had already presented at the Tate Exchange event; Landscape #12. My goal was to connect with students in order to have meaningful conversations about VR technology and other related topics like 3D modelling and 3D animation.
During the residence, I had the opportunity to talk and share ideas with more than 10 students and 5 members of staff.
As a practitioner, I think this was a wonderful opportunity to talk to others about my practice and reflect about all the process of delivering a VR piece to the public. As a student, I enjoyed the opportunity to inhabit a different studio and to talk to students with different practices, I especially enjoyed the opportunity to meet BA students as I felt that they have a fresher look on things and are still quite open to new ideas. I believe that this kind of exercises provide a unique opportunity to create connections with peers and have meaningful cross-disciplinary conversations, I really think that this should be happening more often around UAL.
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.
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.
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.
Yesterday I started working at a new place and they gave me permission to print small pieces from time to time, this encouraged me to star using 3D prints again, so I made a small model from an image I want to include on my next piece.
My next step will be to integrate some of this new prints into the new piece and see how they behave.
At the moment I feel that 3D printing might allow me to include some complex features to my objects, maybe some pieces that need to be precise or that might need a stronger material as a support, the only way to find out is to keep making new models.
I found this artist by accident, at the beginning I was attracted by the way he combines painting and sculpture in his work, things shifted a lot when I discovered a video on a specific piece called “Happy landscape”.
I was surprised as it was very difficult to find any image of this painting on google, at the end, I found a good enough image of the whole painting on Instagram.
In this video, I also learned that Dubuffet was very influenced by primitive artists.
My interest: I am fascinated by the childish way in wich the landscape is presented, I personally think that there is a strong connection between this piece and the way I want to represent the context of
I am fascinated by the childish way in wich the landscape is presented, I personally think that there is a strong connection between this piece and the way I want to represent the context of an experience. I really believe that the lack of a fixed perspective system allows the piece to include much more within the frame.
At the end of July I found the perfect excuse to start working on middle size pieces, I saw an open call on the mall galleries and I wanted to build two pieces large enough to be presented to this contest, I applied the same construction principles I had learn with smaller pieces but soon I discovered it was going to be a far more complex and challenging process.
My idea for this was to connect different moments represented by different images inside a single piece. I wanted to represent the idea that visual memory is a collage of elements dynamically attached to one another.
I started by selecting two images from a gallery of photographs I took on two different trips to natural parks near London i.e. Richmond Park and Windsor Park, then I went through a gallery of photographs from my cellphone and selected two more images from past experiences, Finally, I “stitched” them both inside Blender and built a 3D model of them.
Afterwards, I had to rethink my construction logic and spent quite a good amount of time just learning how to translate the 3D model onto 3 separated layers of foam.
Finally I was able to finish both pieces for the contest and now I am waiting for the results.
In this series I was really decided to take risks, and I did take more than a couple, now I feel inspired to take things even further. I think that this first attempt was pretty successful.
This summer I dedicated a fair amount of time developing my practice as a painter/sculptor. Thanks to my experience building the pieces for the MA Final show I gained enough confidence to start working on a new series of painting sculptures.
I wanted to make a series of small pieces I called “square landscapes”, this was an opportunity to test a new approach to the construction process and although I still working on them, I gained crucial knowledge on how to use the materials.
First I selected 4 photographs; two landscapes from UK and two photos I took while living in Colombia, I made two different 3D models combining one landscape with one image from Colombia.
After almost 3 months I was able to finish this piece, It was a big challenge for me for many reasons, I think that I did face my biggest fear towards painting i.e. sculpting the canvas. At the end I feel I did learn a lot from making this piece.
At the moment I feel that I need to keep taking more risks while enjoying this new sculptural adventure.
Since the beginning of my painting career, I`ve been interested in the use different materials as a way to expand the representative potential of painting. This is a short review on the most significant landmarks on this active research:
MDF – Slippery paper 2008 – 2010
Around the year 2009, I started to experiment on this material, I was cheap so it was great for sketch making. One of the first things I learned about it was that it allowed the brush stroke to smoothly cover a bigger distance. This was one important discovery that made me aware of the convenience of smooth surfaces. The biggest downside was that you have to take really good care of it, after all, it is similar to paper.
MACHETE TIME – Shape the painting. 2011
Around 2011, I was again working over conventional canvas and MDF was almost in the past. Although I used to do a lot of oil painting, Acrylic paint started to attract my attention. At first I used it as the first layer for oil painting but with time, my use for it grew up to the point it replaced oils.
On one point, I wanted to paint over objects, so I made two experiments with oil based painting over milk cans, this gave me a new insight so I started to paint over objects in order to build a relation between the physical shape of the object and the depicted image. I had chosen to paint over Machetes and the final outcome opened a new path for my practice, now it was all about metal, acrylic paint and polyurethane varnish.
POP – Color fields and repetition 2012 – 2013
At this point I was really excited about using iron plaques and metal objects, I was really into acrylic painting and my motives were evolving more than ever before. I was starting to liberate from fixed photographic images and visual composition became an stimulating adventure. I felt free to experiment so I began by changing the context and the colors inside the piece. The use of patterns set the ground for the use of pixels and for the first time I took the risk of creating my first 3D painting sculptures. The downs side of Iron was that the pieces were to heavy and some of them actually ended up damaged by a combination of gravity and hard floor.
OILY LOVE – Landscape and flesh 2014 – 2015
I am not sure why, maybe it was the speed of things or the size of my expectations or the way I used to push things, by the beginning of 2014 I was exhausted and with a bitter taste on my mouth. I needed to find the joy that was missing on my brush strokes, I needed to take a deep breath and recover my energy, it was time for oil painting.
Landscapes and Figure were my main source for inspiration. I stayed well away from traditional canvas by using several different materials e.g. Fiberglass with paper collage, synthetic paper and found objects. I started to embrace more elements of the digital aesthetics e.g. pixels, glitches, color aberration, overexposure, bad framing, blurriness.
3D painting – Layers of reality 2015-2016
Around April 2015 I started working on 3D paper models, I was trying to find an affordable and flexible way to create three dimensional models. The use of Blender introduced me to 3D image composition, now I had the opportunity to compose and alter the 3D shape of the image.
Once I started my MA in London, I was able take things further thanks to the use of a 3D printing, this opened things for me because I was no longer limited by the complexity of the shape I wanted to create, or at least, that is what I though.
After a while, some issues were starting to be a real problem, firstly, 3D printing is a fairly complex process and a lot of things may go wrong (and actually did), secondly, affordable 3D printing has serious size restrictions, finally, 3D printers are delicate equipment and by February 2016 the College’s 3D printer was damaged (and still is). Although I was upset at the beginning, this ended up being an opportunity to take things further both on digital and physical grounds.
Camberwell Roller Coaster – Going VR March 2016
On March 2016 I made my first site specific VR project, It was a piece that explored the use of 3D software to reflect about the perception of space while expanding the formal elements of Digital Photography. This project also introduced my self into 360 video production.
Landscape extrusion – Modeling and Sculpting March – April 2016
A month ago I was thinking on how to make bigger 3D physical objects without 3D printing nor 3D paper modeling. My first option was to assemble several MDF laser cut silhouettes. Although it was a pretty interesting process, I ended up on a dead end once I realized that it was going to be a pretty complex task to make it a strong and lightweight piece.
After awhile, I remembered a talk I had with the technician of the 3D workshop, we talked about several materials and one of them seemed to be suited for my present needs; polystyrene foam sheets. Last week I made a new model from a landscape and now I am modeling the physical piece while reflecting about the different aspects of this new kind of process and how it fits into my practice…