Weeping Mountain (2010)
What prompted you to take an anthropological or almost ethnographic approach to studying the lifestyles of (in your words) contemporary middle class Southern Europeans? How do you find it to be a helpful or destabilizing methodology for subverting what might more typically be discussed as issues of class and taste?
Most of my contemporaries whose work I enjoy the most are American and I always felt like there wasn't too much of a discourse regarding Europe, especially not about countries like Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece - their lower middle classes, youth and the NINI generation; because of their aesthetics being considered as bland, boring and unappealing.
Their lack of exoticism was the reason I started to feel attracted to these topics. As someone with dual-nationality, in England everyone would always try to exploit the Latin-American side of me and, even though my upbringing took place in Spain, this fact was always to be hidden and neglected in favour of an exotizised biography. Because Spain is a boring country, with most of it's population living on a welfare system which doesn't even come from its own government but from an idealised Europe, where youth is forever studying due to unemployment and lack of prospects, where everything is a simulacra. After being forced to drive my attention to an idealised, flashy and colourful idea of the third world, I decided to focus on duller representations of the second world, mainly because it is what I experienced throughout my life, what I know about and what I feel in the right to analyse.
I'm interested in class differences: how they affect social interaction, emotions, attraction and relations. I'm fascinated by class imitation, con artistry, and how humans utilise fashion to define themselves within a circle ...
Widget Art Gallery, developed and curated by Chiara Passa, is an exhibition space that fits in your pocket. This digital gallery is an app for iPhones and iPads. Over email, I asked Passa several questions about the project:
What was your motivation behind starting the Widget Art Gallery?
Different reasons led me to start the Widget Art Gallery.
The first one is that I’ve always wanted to do my own curatorial digital art project in relation to a space.
The second reason is the economic crisis. So, it was unreasonable for me to rent an exposition space since it was too binding, and three years ago I decided to create a virtual display space that Id thought extremely coherent in order to show digital art; simple to manage for me and easy to understand for users. Due to our needs that seem to be increasingly handheld, WAG was born. The Widget Art Gallery is a mini three-D, single art gallery room that fits into people’s pocket.
The virtual gallery-room, every month, directly on people’s mobile, hosts a solo digital art exhibition related to the dynamic site-specific contest. So the WAG works both as a sort of kunsthall showing temporary exhibitions and as a permanent collection museum because it conserves all the past exhibitions inside an online archive.
The third aim is a conceptual and emotional one. Recently, I was surprised by the increasing involvement of the audience that I am seeing in some recent mobile-art projects, so I wanted to create a virtual space accessible to everybody by simply using an internet connection. The Widget Art Gallery is a free Safari Mobile Web-based App and works online through two different links for IPhone and IPad. It’s also possible to download the widget version for mac-osx dashboard.
Do you think that bringing the online exhibition to a mobile platform brings it closer to the initial experience of the modern gallery show — i.e. trying to have a private interaction with a work of art in a very public place?
Untitled, 2012 archival inkjet print.
Many of your works seem interested in the tension between analog and digital in the creation and reception of a work, like physical xerox scans of the screen of an iPad. To what degree do you connect a piece to the technological platform on which it was made?
The Pad Scans are scans of an iPad. The iPad is confused by the light from the scanner that produces heat making it think it’s being touched. So the scans are capturing the iPad rolling over to another web page, making visible these digital or web in between spaces.
Error feels a sign of humanness. For me it’s important to insert that into an image or work dealing with mediation and technology. In this constant looping between the physical and digital worlds images are unstable in that they are left always open to reuse.
I also recently learned the term ‘retronym’, which feels a linguistic insight into my working process. (A paralleling of technological advances and in the face of them a return to the past to update/qualify/recontextualize.)
Your naming conventions vacillate between identifying their originating platform (iPhone Videos, Pad Scans) and describing their final form (Prints of Plays). In terms of these degrees of mediation from an initial image, how important to you is the ultimate format of the work versus its role in destabilizing that image’s objecthood?
Everything is important in different degrees at different times in different works in different ways. There is so much process, yet when pieces are ‘finished’ as in hanging on a gallery wall there is no separation between image and form or object and picture. Though this unification is so fleeting, as it lasts for the course of a show and only if you ...
I’m not really speaking critically about the language of advertising exclusively. I’m not sure it’s possible to do that without lapsing into a fairly dysfunctional rhetoric. I think within its traditional logic, this visual language functions in my work where it's drawn into conflict by other elements that it struggles to accommodate without having to be addressed. I intentionally want to polarise cliché characteristics, particular to advertising, within a process of trying to articulate other systems of representation in relation to them, such as that of a physical, three-dimensional form in a digital space. For me it’s very challenging to create and maintain a level of heterogeneity among different elements and control how they overlap and resist each other within the same work.
With the LCD screens you’re referring to I see their physical qualities as indistinct from any other quality the work presents as a whole in terms of their potential. I chose them partly because of their ubiquitous presence in the landscape. They have no branding, which in this case would interrupt their relationship to the images. They only display portrait, which interests me in their reference to other, more historical modes of display. They also have tempered glass faces that extend to the very edges of the ...
Rather than hewing to a tight editorial voice, New York-based quarterly CLOG selects a singular subject for each issue and promises to unpack it “from multiple viewpoints and through a variety of means.” The most recent issue takes on the architectural typologies of the modern data center – both studying the physical reality of information infrastructure and imagining new figurations that might better reflect our digital age.
An overwhelming proliferation of short essays—44 features total in the slim, 127 page volume, each only a few pages in length—function as historical background, case study, research exercise, conjecture and pure architectural folly. All, however, are predicated on the existence of a unique spatio-temporal relationship in our contemporary society between architectural form and digital technology. As quoted early in the issue, Mies van der Rohe claimed in a 1950 address to IIT “wherever technology reaches its real fulfillment, it transcends into architecture…it is the crystallization of its inner structure, the slow unfolding of its final form.”
Positivism aside, this blurring between what constitutes a “building” versus what you might, depending on your level of technological sophistication, call “infrastructure,” “wires,” or just “ugly stuff,” has a long dialogical history. Modernism’s persistent obsession with the factory and Reyner Banham’s “A Home is Not a House” essay in Art in America (April 1965) both display a certain shared affection among architects for the utilitarian – are the windowless concrete monoliths that house our Instagram photos and most intimate Google queries a holdover from that industrio-fetishistic era? Or do they simply have no need to perform for us any longer? Luiz André Barroso and Urs Hölzle pull contemporary Warehouse Scale Computers (WSCs) into that same discourse, noting that “perhaps most importantly, WSC designers – software, hardware, mechanical, electrical, environmental, thermal and civil engineers – don’t ...