Archive for the 'art' Category

Art is a Backdrop for Selfies

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

A couple of days ago I finally gave in and visited the broad museum of contemporary art in downtown LA, featuring Yayoi Kusama’s popular retrospective.

The broad —as LA locals fondly call it— is the most successful manifestation I’ve encountered of the museum experience redefined as a shopping mall and amusement park for the masses. In order to keep a steady throughput, visitors were only allowed thirty seconds inside each installation, and a busy staff made sure the long lines of people kept moving at a healthy pace. In the meantime, most of the crowd was invested in finding cool spots for their selfies, both to proof they were there, and as a testament to their creativity when adding their own selves to the art (or the art to their own self image?).

Mesmerized by these behavior, I ran a quick web search on “museum selfie” and found everything from instructions on how to take the best selfie, to why you shouldn’t take any selfies at all. Online, opinions seemed to be split, but in the real world of the broad museum everybody was having the time of their lives photographing themselves against Kusama’s polka dotted infinite patterns.

An arbitrary rule allowed for picture taking everywhere except for one installation called Pumpkin Room. Why ban photos only there? Why not just ban photos altogether? It turns out the reason can be tracked to an incident where some careless visitor damaged the installation while pushing the boundaries of their own selfie-taking enterprise. Perhaps influenced by TSA safety logic, somebody decided to protect the installation from any more damage by prohibiting pictures to be taken inside it. Because once an accident had happened inside a specific installation, the TSA laws of probability dictate that future accidents will also happen at the same installation. All other installations were safe and required no protection against selfies.

Somewhere along the tour I read on one of these walls an artist statement ——let’s call it the Kusama Paradox—— claiming that the art will push audiences to let go of their sense of self and commune with the universe through the experience of infinity inside one of those mirror rooms, but what i saw was exactly the opposite. Most people at Kusama’s exhibit were granted a mere thirty seconds inside each installation that they spent framing the art as a backdrop for the promotion of their own self image in social media.

Update May 2018: I recently stumbled upon this article covering an installation exhibit in a Museum-like facility called Rabbit Town, whose only purpose is to provide its costumers with art-like backdrops where they can photograph themselves. Here is a relevant quote:

It’s a natural evolution that reflects a change in how people find value in art: If you go to a museum to find a good backdrop for a photo, that backdrop is a product. And when a piece of art becomes a popular product, the knockoffs can’t be far behind.

Futures from the Past

Friday, August 18th, 2017

I discovered a peculiar book store called Future Dreams Books during a long walk on a recent trip to Portland. There, I was met with box after box full of science fiction publications that dated all the way back to the twenties and thirties. Some of the magazines in these boxes were unaffordable, like a seven hundred dollar priced magazine featuring the first appearance of a text written by H. G. Wells, but other instances of the same publication were available for as low as eight dollars. They just didn’t feature anything written by authors of such prominence. But they still featured the same kind of amazing futuristic art in their covers —the kind that still holds a nineteenth century flair to it— and I couldn’t help but purchase a few. Here are two of my favorites.

You can browse through many more book and magazine covers here and here. A small note about this collection: I’ve acquired most of the publications featured on these collections at the basement of the Harvard Book Store, the Brattle Book Shop in Downtown Boston, Pandemonium Books and Games in Central Square (Cambridge MA), Angel City Books and Records in Santa Monica CA. Some of them I scanned after borrowing from the MIT Science Fiction Society Library, and a few more come from random news stands in the streets of Mexico City.

Bitcoin Orgy

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

I was invited to direct a collaboration with poet Johnny Payne for Transmedia Borders. Here’s the text I wrote to introduce the work and two video art experiments I made in collaboration with Bernardo Cubria and Karen Sours Albisua:

Once again I crossed the line. I’ve never done this before, to take the poems written by someone else and have them performed by actors whose only direction was “you’re a head floating in empty space, you’re Siri and you’re Chavela Vargas and you live inside my phone”. Inspired by the poems, I dreamt of a virtual chorus of digital angels floating around me, but I summoned a spectral connection to the society of the spectacle instead. When I pulled out my phone and showed the videos to my friend he said: “this has no narrative purpose. It is purely lyrical”. I briefly experienced satisfaction.

El asfalto de las grandes ciudades me atrae con su olor a casa. De un laberinto a otro se me ha olvidado quién soy, de donde vengo y adónde voy. Intacta, la frontera permanece, pero la noción de origen se disipa con la diáspora. El desarraigo se fortalece. En cada lugar la identidad se traslapa con otras, y todo se ve cada vez más igual, repetido y transnacional. En este ir y venir de construcciones y artificios pierdo el hilo conductor que antaño iluminó mi certidumbre. Sin certeza mi ambición se dispersa. Mi horóscopo dice: grandes cambios se avecinan, y no pienso en otra cosa que más de lo mismo.

It is perhaps because the digital devices hiding in our pockets are slowly replacing our internal monologues with the shallow cacophony of everyone else’s sensorial inputs that I felt compelled to disconnect these voices from any redeeming qualities they might have claimed in the original text. In this world, transformation is monotony, and there is no desire left beyond possession.

El texto es código, recetario y sistema formal, es la materia prima, partitura, programa y punto de partida. En su origen, la imagen es palabra realizada en la mente, y como tal pertenece a cualquier medio. El mensaje no es el medio even when the medium is the message. Para el texto, no hay más frontera que la frontera del lenguaje. Y si quieres un masaje de cabeza nada es mejor que la poesía estocástica de Johnny Payne.

Orgia Bitcoin v4 from blackaller on Vimeo.

Hombre de Puerta Trasera v4 from blackaller on Vimeo.

So long, Instagram

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

International bunny day is a September holiday but Maya decided to celebrate it on July 21st by creating this commemorative drawing.

To me, the picture I took of this drawing with my iPhone commemorates a completely different kind of event. It’s the last image I ever shared on Instagram and it marks the end of Instagram for me. After 7,253 photos on a journey that began in 2010 before Maya was born, I have decided to close and never use Instagram again.

My motivations for this decision are merely practical. I love Instagram. In fact, I actually love it TOO MUCH. It has come to my attention recently that some of my more compulsive habits ——buying comics every Wednesday, posting pictures and browsing on Instagram, binge-watching TV shows, keeping up with newsfeeds and other iPhone distractions—— are fueled in a great part by FOMO and are actually making it difficult for me to pay attention to my own life.

As part one of my active information detox program I removed all social media, news and entertainment from my iPhone, effectively turning it into a music player camera phone with email, texting, and directions. When you use your iPhone only as a tool it becomes a very powerful resource.

Part two reduce TV watching at night to 1 hour max, and never after 10pm.

Part three quit on weekly comics. Just not yet please 😀

June 9, 2018 update. I’ve now completed all three phases of my personal information detox program and it’s sinking-in great. After a few months I have regained time, clarity and peace of mind. I experienced no withdrawal and I only use twitter now, but only on a desktop computer and I count my twitter time as TV time.


Saturday, May 13th, 2017

I think I’m finally getting a hold of it.

Stereoscopic Bliss with Cinema 4D

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

Experimenting with motion capture, particle systems and equirectangular stereoscopic physical rendering in Cinema 4D.

Link to full resolution render here.

More experiments with motion capture can be found here.

New Cover Art for Rest in Haste

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

I’ve been working on some new cover art for the Psychedelic Rock band Rest in Haste. I am not done yet, but some interesting things are coming out. I will be posting full resolution updates in my Rest in Haste Flickr album.