interview for shock magazine colombia
Interview for Shock Magazine, Colombia, by Juan Pablo Castiblanco Ricaurte.
Your works involve the visitor; they are not complete without them. But, sometimes this action leads to destruction, to an annoying noise, to a disturbing image. Are you making fun out of your audience? Do you believe our actions in real life have any sense?
I cannot speak for anyone’s actions but my own. I depict what is important to me. I make my pieces because I am curious. I want to find out if the idea will result in something interesting, if it will “feel right”. Overall, our actions make a lot of sense. When you hit glass, it breaks. When you drink water, you pee. It is quite simple.
You draw, you make websites, you make books, and you do exhibits. On other artists’ work you could say that these are independent techniques they use, but in your case it seems that all three are stages of one big work, that they make part of a same project. Am I wrong? Which is the difference that you feel between each technique?
The websites are optimized for the network, to travel fast and hit hard whenever prompted. They are a distilled version of reality. The drawings are a reflection of me browsing, without any editing, completely unfiltered. The exhibitions are a celebration and a research on what computing could look like in the future.
You grew up in an age in which internet wasn’t still established. How the rise of the internet did changed your perception of the world and of art itself?
I discovered the internet when I was 16. At first I was trying to find things from the “old” world; interviews with artists and musicians. But I became interested if there were websites that showed
things we did not know before, things that happened only on the web. I was very attracted to the possibilities. It’s a platform that gives anyone a chance, your website has the same dimensions as CocaCola.com.
Also, the computer offers new possibilities in depiction; the use of interactivity and inifinity. Those were not possible before the computer and the web made them very easy for artists to share.
Art changes just as much as society changes. Human emotions do not change. Falling in love felt the same in 10.000 BC as it does now. My perception has changed, but it is hard to say if that is from growing up or from the computer. I just know that the screen feels very free, changing the background color of a website takes milliseconds, changing the background color of a painting takes days.
Your description in your Facebook page is “visual artist using the internet as his canvas”, and your latest status is “I love paintings, not painting”. Do you think digital media will fully replace paintings, or that people will prefer art on a screen than a physical object?
I really really love paintings. But for some reason I mostly love old paintings. So what has happened to painting? Why is the energy not there anymore, and will it come back?
At some point digital media will replace everything. Everything in our brain is electric. We will become waves in an electronic ocean. I think we will not be concerned with paintings, our collective
consciousness will operate in a very different way.
Most of your works show abstract images. Why have you avoided a specific or local imaginary? Why do you use this kind of visual language that people from every part in the world may understand?
I think you answered the question very well yourself. Indeed, I always wanted to make things that can be “read” by anyone anywhere, finding a universal language. It seems that is happening. You are in Colombia and it makes me very happy to know someone on the other side of the world is aware of me.
The images are not abstract, they are abstracted. They are a reconstruction of reality. Photography is an approximation of reality, our visual perception is reduced to a grid of pixels, and each pixel is given one color. The photographic sensor chooses the color for us.
My visual language is built out of points and curves. These points can then be programmed to move at will. They are given instructions on how to behave. I find the world very overwhelming, and this is my way of understanding what i see. Just like philosophy dissects verbal language, breaks it down and analyzes how our thoughts are trapped in words.
There’s a lot of dark humor in your work. Which are the things that you most want to make fun about?
Humor is a strange thing, it is very fun but it is also a defense mechanism. My humor is very dark and when I find people who appreciate that I am happy to speak my mind without upsetting them.
Why have you worked over famous artistic names and works, like Duchamp or Malevich?
I love both these artists. As far as I know, the Duchamp wheel is the first interactive sculpture in art history. In the museum however, visitors are not allowed to touch it. Malevich made such a crazy painting I had to animate it. Making a work based on something from reality or based on an piece of art is not very different.
Which is the role that sound plays in your work?
I’m not sure.
Do you consider your work is multimedia? How can you expand this multimedia from the interaction through the mouse or the keyboard? How can you give the user other options to interact with your work and, eventually, invite him to use other senses?
I was never interested to make installations with custom hardware, I always thought that was the area of multimedia. When new technologies happen, I am happy to work with them. Touchscreens are new, and 3D screens might become important. And who knows maybe smell is the next dimension. That would be a revolution in depiction.
Here is a quote from Marinetti’s “Tactilism Manifesto” from 1912: “The identification of five senses is arbitrary, and one day we will certainly discover and catalogue numerous other senses.”
What do you expect to generate in your audience? Anguish? Relief? Pessimism? Happiness?
It has always been very important to make things that generate multitudes of outcomes. Ideally, the artist behaves as a magnifying glass, focussing sunlight into a sharp point that can start a fire.
How is the process to develop your sites? Do you write the codes?
The process is this:
idea appears in head > wait wait wait for idea to become clearer >search images or take photos > make sketches > wait wait for courage to continue because first sketches looked bad > walk on the beach, visit museums, sit in a hotel lobby, drink green tea > wait wait wait > a form is achieved > I make rough animation > talk to programmer, show sketches, drink tea together > programmer makes first version, talk on skype, make second version > I am given a file with options to change behaviours, trial and error until equilibrium is achieved.
I am very lucky to know my programmer, Reinier Feijen, he is very patient and enthusiastic.
Which are your favorite web artists? Besides these, which other names influence you in music, art, literature, videogames, movies, TV, etcetera?
Here are some great people that inspire me. Heroes are very important, to raise the bar and give energy.
Salvador Dali, Piet Mondrian, Kazimir Malevich, Roy Lichtenstein, Rene Magritte, David Lynch, Werner Herzog, Jim Jarmusch, Dr Nakamats, Aphex Twin, Darkthrone, Burzum, Nikola Tosic, Ted Nugent, Henry Rollins, Glenn Danzig, Robert Crumb, Katt Williams, Larry David.