STATEMENT(S)

I have written down many statements over the years. Teaching statements, statements meant for dayjobs, messy statements, smart ones, oportunistic ones, in english and spanish, obsolete ones... etc.

I've saved most of them: I am not confortable with the idea of a single artist statement. In a way, it seems to me like a fake way to insert oneself into a history that is not yet made. So here are different statements, in cronological(ish) order. This assemblage of shadows should paint a decent approximation to who am I.  

Hopefuly.

December 2016
(Translation of previous statement. For a grant I ended up not applying)

What is my work about? Nothing in particular: Nevertheless, I can enumerate some of the characteristics that define it; It is nostalgic, somewhat spiritual and it aches from a kind of silence that I can not yet understand. Paradoxically, it is work that has always been related to new technologies and –most of the time- created against their flow.

Handmade Cell Towers that jam communication signals (NoFi and ColdSpot), or embody a metaphor for the penetration of digital culture and its economy in cultural spaces (La Necesidad). Memorials of grief and pain for computers that can not feel such a thing (Big Blues, Catastrophic Failures), and prototipes for haptic communication (Tacto), are some of the works I have developed under the precept of thinking of the human trough the lens of the digital: A lens that nowadays exerts a great influence on our conduct and expectations for the future.

During the past two years, I have concentraded my attention in “Reversals”: A series of 3D animations and site-specific installations, that take as its starting point, newsreel of events that where once global in the Internet and are now mostly forgotten: Floods, fires and protests that I then recreate as computer animations. In these, the workflow of digital postproduction and 3D animation, is reversed to allow an extended gaze onto this events –such as the floods of concordia, the shooting of a boy in Venezuela or the burning of a church in manhattan-, that deserve a longer attention span than the one we can usually give.

The notion of distance, I suppose, is a central point of this series of works that I am currently creating: The inconsolable distance between spectator and the geography of the events, the very human need to try to bridge this divide, and rescue this news, this floods, this protests and fires, from the oblivion and carelesness specific to a time –our time-, when the flow of images seems to overflow our capacity to care for what they represent.

Septiembre 2016
(Back to Chile. Nicole asked me for it. In Spanish)

De que se trata mi trabajo: De nada en particular. Puedo enumerar, sin embargo, algunas de las cosas que lo definen; Es nostálgico, algo espiritual y padece de cierta mudés. Paradójicamente siempre ha sido un trabajo vinculado a nuevas tecnologías y, la mayoría de las veces, ha sido elaborado a contracorriente de estas.

Antenas de telefonía artesanal que cancelan la señal de telefonía celular (NoFi y Cold Spot), o metaforizaban la penetración de la cultura digital y su economía en ámbitos culturales (La Necesidad). Memoriales de perdida y dolor para máquinas que no pueden sentir tales cosas (Big Blues, Catastrophic Failures), y Prototipos de Máquinas para poder tocarse a distancia (Tacto), son algunas de las obras que he desarrollado bajo estos preceptos de pensar en lo humano a través de los medios digitales, que hoy parecen definir nuestra conducta y espectativas de futuro.

Durante los últimos dos años he concentrado mi atención en "Reversos": Una serie de animaciones 3D e instalaciones site-specific, que toman como punto de partida diversas noticias obtenidas a través de Internet. las cuales recreo como animaciones fantasmagóricas al revertir el flujo de trabajo de herramientas de postproducción digital y animación 3D.  

La noción de distancia, supongo, es un punto central de esta serie de trabajos que actualmente desarrollo: La inconsolable distancia entre el espectador y el lugar de los hechos, la necesidad muy humana de tratar de acortar esta brecha, y rescatar estas noticias, estos diluvios, atentados, bombardeos y manifestaciones, de el olvido y la desidia propios de un momento en donde el flujo de imagenes parecen superar nuestra capacidad de atenderlas.

June 2016
(Statement for a Residency that starts with an Eye and ends with a BEAM)

My research questions power by dealing with the notion of distance, the politics of witnessing, and how –as consumers of news clips and cell phone footage- , we become virtual witnesses to global events.

I use technologies of computer vision and CGI as a way of watching these images: Reversing the intended purpose of post-production software by creating animations where the line between archival, live-action and CGI is blurred.

Tell us about your practice, interests and field

I am  fascinated by the notion of a disembodied gaze and the digital phantasmatic: I work with news footage that -most of the time- Is taken from cell phones. Embedded in these sequences, is the presence of the witness: The disembodied presence of the one who simultaneously testifies, broadcasts and watches by the act of recording.

As a secondary witness, using CGI and postproduction, I want to be a medium for these anonymous, disembodied witnesses of the events that haunt our present.

What is the Impact of your Practice, Potential or Actual

I believe that the way we relate to image production and consumption nowadays has changed immensely. Specifically, how seeing, archiving and witnessing have become functionally indistinguishable from each other.

In this sense, I believe that my practice addresses this issue of what it means to observe in an age of image saturation and overproduction. I aim at intensifying the attention we place on certain events, beyond their “trending topic value”.

In fact,  by the time I finish working on a piece, the event itself -be it the floods of Concordia or the Russian Bombing of a hospital in A'zaz-, is mostly forgotten.

What I aim to do is to establish a broader gaze, that projects these recent events back into the present, aiming to take a deep look at the act of witnessing itself.

I think that in this regard, the work has a lot of impact -both actual and potential-, as it aims to develop a critical narrative and aesthetic of the notion of witnessing, which has become such an important issue in regards to global politics and social movements in the past decade.

April 2016
(Statement for Video Screening at Microscope)

I am an artist dealing with notions of distance and spectatorship in a context of image overproduction.

My work reverses the Visual Effects pipeline: While "matchmoving" is used to generate spectacular CGI content, I use it as a way to become an active viewer of past events that where recently global but are now forgotten.

These events are retraced, the witness camera replicated, and what remains is a shared gaze: Ghosts of anonymous witnesses, pieces of buildings, the motion captured by a computer and that insurmountable distance between the consumer of images and the depiction of tragedy.

 

April 2016

(Statement for the Reversals series. Which includes the ghosts and all of that stuff. Sometimes I write statements to understand what it is that I am doing)

I am an artist dealing with notions of distance and spectatorship in a context of image overproduction.

My work reverses the Visual Effects pipeline: While "matchmoving" is used to generate spectacular CGI content, I use it as a way to become an active viewer of past events that where recently global but are now forgotten.

These events are retraced, the witness camera replicated, and what remains is a shared gaze: Ghosts of anonymous witnesses, pieces of buildings, the motion captured by a computer and that insurmountable distance between the consumer of images and the depiction of tragedy.

May 2016
(Longer statement for the Reversals series...)

As a series, Reversals aims to be the embodiment of an artistic inquiry into the notion of Distance: What happens with events that occur far away, in towns that where once deemed newsworthy and are now seemingly forgotten. Events protagonized by persons that suddenly appeared on screens all over the world and –like a photo bomber in a selfie-, are now suddenly decontextualized, deprecated, forgotten.

As an artist I am particularly concerned with this issue. I personally long for contact, for authentic empathy and in some cases –like the December 2015 floods in Concordia-, I long to establish a meaningful connection to a situation that I watched as a consumer. I don’t want to watch things as a consumer; But it’s hard nowadays to become an active viewer: It is a well established fact of our contemporary visual culture, that it has become easier to generate content than to watch it.

After all, how many of the videos you shoot with your phone are never played back again?

Ghosts of Concordia and A Mother Grieves for Her Son is the result of a long term effort on extending contemplation within a context of media overexposure. An effort that involves using techniques of post-production, surveillance and digital forensics –arguably the only disciplines where people still take the time to contemplate-, in order to expand and intensify the duration of our gaze into particular events –the floods of Concordia or a protest in Venezuela- that are much bigger than the one minute newsclips that travelled around the world for a week on February 2014 and December 2015.

The result is a shared gaze: The digital reconstruction and documentation of an environment that you can’t find on Google Maps, the captured motion of people –now digital Ghosts- that were once global witnesses and are now nowhere to be found, the extracted sculptures of objects that called my attention for no particular reason other than their ambiguity within the narrative of the newsreel.

 

March 2016
(Teaching Philosophy Statement. For a teaching job at a really nice art school with a Y in the name. Didn't get the job, but I did get interviewed. So hopefuly not a stupid statement)
 

Digital Media is my particular field of interest in teaching. Mainly, because it seems as if we have grown –the field and I- at about the same rate: I started using computers before the Graphical User Interface became widespread, became a teenager when the web was accessed through dial-up connections, graduated from College by the time Facebook had become the first social Network and got my first smartphone the year I began my MFA.

As a professor, this personal story is crucial to understand the way I relate to Digital Media: I wasn’t born with an iPad, I had to wait 30 years for it to exist. So I am particularly sensitive to the way students that where born into Social Media, relate to this technological environment we are all immersed in.

Therefore, most of my teaching philosophy is concentrated on helping them understand the historical evolution of the notion of the Digital. Encouraging them to be active, politically engaged participants –and not mere users- within this digital context.

My classes are usually multifaceted, covering a wide variety of software. This, for two reasons: Because the digital realm is a realm of transitioning rules and definitions, and because professional workflows rely on the intercommunication of different pieces of software.

This is complicated. So I plan my classes very carefully. As I strive to achieve a good balance between theory and practice: Aiming for my students to become empowered users. In other words, I want them to find meaning in the tools they are learning. And this necessarily implies developing a course with an engaging narrative, one that is rooted on the way perception is understood in computing terms.

To this purpose, I often develop a lecturing component in class where I establish links between issues that at first, don’t seem to be related: From Michael Snow and Machine Vision to 3D Printing and the Photosculptures that Francois Willeme developed in the 1850’s.

For example, in a class I taught last year –about the extremely unexciting topic of Video Codecs, Color Mapping and Compression-, I prepared a lecture where I quickly summarized the history of electronic noise in computing, with an emphasis on Claude Shannon’s seminal paper on the “Mathematical Theory of Communication”. In this paper, published in 1949, Shannon outlined the principles that gave birth to our digital communications.

Also in that paper, he defined that digital communications should not be concerned with the qualitative aspect or content of a message: The only thing that mattered, was fidelity and reproducibility. And the way to achieve that, was through compression and noise cancellation.

Out of this fact, we had a wonderful discussion on the effect of this foundational piece of digital history: “What is the relation between noise, complexity and meaning?” and “Why is there such a thing as Glitch art?” where some of the many questions that where asked and discussed during class.

These discussions are then followed by practical workshops that range from Green- Screening to 3D Modeling, Glitching and 3D-Printing. All taking into consideration the relation of this practical component of my teaching with the texts, films and artwork discussed during the class.

The field of Digital Art is huge:  Overwhelming, permanently shifting, and pervasive of all disciplines. Something that is strikingly apparent in Art Schools, where students –from painting to sculpture- flock to use Digital Tools ranging from 3D Printers to Flat Screens and DSLR’s.

It is my goal in teaching Digital Art, to deal with this trans-disciplinary demand in a meaningful manner; Dealing with the digital as a paradoxical medium: One that is defined by it’s fluidity – encompassing all forms of art production and archival- , and it’s specificity as the medium of speed and reproducibility.

In doing so, with careful planning, good readings, enthusiastic discussions and hands-on learning, I hope to be contributing to the education of empowered artists and individuals, who are able to be critical and articulate when dealing with the environment we are all experiencing now.

October 2012
(For Naomi. For Class... I was thinking a lot about how digital culture is embodied)

Being an artist is one of the last refugees of the amateur.

And I think of myself as a very serious amateur; An enthusiastic (although somewhat melancholic) researcher of my immediate surroundings with an emphasis on two types of things: Technology and Tradition, one permanently moving forwards and the other stuck stubbornly on the past.  

I try to reconcile these affections of mine, say, by looking for epiphanies of pain in the muted obsolescence of an IBM Server, by asking computers to pray for me, or by building my own wooden Cell Tower in order to be left alone.

I am not confortable with dialectics; I don’t believe that everything was better then, or that all will be solved in the future. I don’t believe in final solutions or utopias of any kind, but I do believe in the evocative power of objects and their implicit history.

Therefore, without the technical prowess of baroque sculptors or the resources of big IT corporations, I enthusiastically look for a middle ground by creating or projecting aspirational sculptures, drawings, programs and inventions that lye in between my own traditions and my thirst -which nowadays seems to be the thirst of legions- for the new.