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.
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.
Recently I was accepted on a peer-to-peer event called Pop-up common room, and one of the things we had to do was to read a book called Ways of seeing by John Berger, I did not read the book although now I think is worth to take a look to it, instead, I saw a four-episode collection of videos on youtube.
I have to say that this was a very positive surprise, and I feel that many of the things said by him resonate a lot with my ideas.
There are particular passages on this videos that I am planning to share at the research discussion due on the 9th of March.
The first fragment is about how we see things and how images are manipulated and transformed by the use of the camera to reproduce them, I really feel that there is a strong link with my research paper.
At the end of this same fragment, I found a strong connection with my present practice and how images could be used to create space.
The next fragment gains a huge importance within my current practice as I am able to use still images in combination with a moving camera and even sound. I really like it when he talks about the corridor between the viewer and the painting.
This other little fragment resonates with my idea of the META-IMAGE
This other fragment from episode 4 also enriches my idea of the META-IMAGE
At the moment I am quite interested in two specific topics i.e. spatial metaphors and the Meta-image, Berger has given me wonderful insights about images and the way we use them and abuse them, I think I should take a look at his book and also look for references to other authors that reflect about visual culture.
I watched this video and I was fascinated by the idea that our experience of reality is actually mediated by an interface that helps us to deal with it without having to deal with more complex elements of it, similar to what computer interfaces allow us to do when interacting with the machine.
I think that this video supports and validates my quest for a visual representation that escapes the restraints of de frame and perspective systems. I think that in the future I might use this analogy of an interface as a way to address the function of the work of art. An interface that represents my experiences on reality.
Just now I was reading a paper about the perspective systems in Ancient Chinese painting. At some point I thought that maybe this obsession we have towards creating a sophisticated system that could act as an objective recipient for the depiction of reality has a lot to do with how we interact with the physical world. I mean, both Euclidean and not Euclidean geometry have proven to be useful for the making of blueprints and even build or change the physical world, so why not try to keep using them in order to depict our experience of reality?
This is an Idea that has been around for thousands of years but history has shown that Artists, specially painters have always challenged it’s rules, and I think this has to do with the fact that in order to depict reality, we have to experience it and we do this with both our physical body and our minds. So, a system that favours our physical body over our minds is not efficient.
The convenience of the Flat canvas
From the readings I made for my research paper, I now know that linear perspective was born as an objective system to depict reality on flat surfaces, according to history this started with mirrors and was reinforced by architecture and it is obvious that flat paintings fit easily on flat walls, of course there are examples of images that do not follow this rule, in some cases, architecture is setting the path and in others, images follow the functional or symbolic uses of the object.
When you think about canvases, sketchbooks, prints and photographs it is easy to think about the convenience of the flat image, it makes easy to present it, to store it and reproduce it, so it seems that this feature of the image prevails over the content of it. It is a condition that seems almost fundamental about image creation… but is it? or better yet, should it be?
What about painting? From my experience, is really confortable to paint over a flat canvas instead of doing it over a non-flat one, but the same true for medium size canvases if compared to big or really small ones, and that is not enough reason to prefer medium size canvases. Further more, although physical comfort might be a desirable thing to have when painting, it is not always the same for mental comfort.
So apparently, the use of both perspective systems (specially linear) and flat surfaces is convenient for practical reasons, but it does come with a price, we are trying to depict reality using tools that privilege the physical side over the mental one.
Today the sky was gray and the morning had been washed away by a persistent rain that kept talking until the middle of the afternoon. My excuse vanished and my mind started to insistently remind me that I needed to bring back a book to the Wimbledon’s library. At the edge of 4 pm I decided to take my chances on a fast trip to the college.
I took the path that runs parallel to the train tracks. I was moving fast using one eye to watch out for people while keeping the other fixed on the gray clouds above. After a few minutes down the road, and tanks to the black color of the wet pavement, I started noticing little tinny yellowish things spread on the floor, on a closer inspection I was both surprised and terrified, little snails were coming out of the bushes and nobody noticed them.
As I started walking carefully, I noticed some small and gooey spots on the floor, there were sad little tragedies all over the rout, and although I was able to “save” a few of them, it felt as a pointless task, after all, there was nothing I could do to explain them how dangerous it was to slowly drift on that big road.
Back from the library the scene was the same, lots of people walking carelessly while little snails were creeping awfully slowly on the way. I had to put one out of its misery, save two more and then decided to document the scene, I first tried to take several pictures of one to make a 3D model of the living one, It was impossible as they move to fast for a sequence of photos.
My only option for a 3D model was to pic the “still ones”.
While working on my first VR project I could not help to think that for most of the time, we humans (I guess animals too) end up living our lives inside of fixed paths. I started to imagine that they are like tunnels that cut through reality offering us with a secure yet very narrow view over the physical existence.
From my research on neuroscience,I know that this phenomenon has a biological explanation and a big impact on the way we experience life.
This is a pretty interesting fact that I will explore by creating more VR experiences.
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…
So far, my conclusion is that there is not such a boundary or division between physical and digital reality, we just think like that as an attempt to understand this different aspects of contemporary life, so we just try to separate them the same way we try to understand our own selves by separating body and mind.
That is why I decided to change my first approach and keep developing work that involves physical and digital dimensions.
This last Wednesday Raum Gallery opened the door for me and I had the opportunity to spend for almost 7 hours sharing my first VR piece with people that was passing by (At some point I used the VR set as a “fish hook” – it worked!).
Although I was not counting, I estimate that at least 50 brave participants sat to experiment my VR experiment. This experience taught me a lot as I had the opportunity to chat with almost everybody about the experience.
One unexpected and wonderful fact about this whole event is that, for more than half of the participants, it was the first time ever they interacted with a VR device.
Although it may feel quite different, I want to share this video in order to give you the flavor of what people experienced.
A week ago I saw the movie “A single man” by Tom Ford, it a was really interesting movie and I ended up thinking about three different scenes and one of them in particular has inspired me to do an experiment, that is why I’m going to publish this post in both my Influences and work sections.
The first and maybe the most relevant scene for me was the one in which George (Colin Firth) visits his friend Charlie (Juliane Moore), right when they meet on the front door, another scene fades in, it is a fragment from a previous scene where Charlie found out about the death of his lover. This this momentary overlapping made me thing about time compression not only in movies but also on images.
The second scene that captivated me was the one where George and his young student Kenny (Nicholas Hoult) where talking inside a bar, at one moment, the young guy replied: “we are born alone, we die alone, and while we are here we are absolutely, completely sealed in our own bodies”… “We can only experience the outside world through our own slanted perception of it. Who knows what youʼre really like. I just see what I think youʼre like.”
Finally, the third part of the movie that captured my attention was just before the end, when George experiences an epiphany and says: “A few times in my life I’ve had moments of absolute clarity when, for a few brief seconds, the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think and things seem so sharp and the world seems so fresh, it’s as though it had all just come into existence. I can never make these moments last. I cling to them, but like everything, they fade. I have lived my life on these moments. They pull me back to the present, and I realize that everything is exactly the way it was meant to be”.
When I saw this I felt something clicked in my head, I guess that we humans try to hold on to our most memorable moments just like a drunk guy clings to the railing while he awkwardly descends the staircase. They are like keyframes on a time line and on some rare moments, our immediate experience pulls them into the stage creating an ambiguous moment where past and present collide on to each other.