happened at Laboratorio
Arte Alameda on August 20, 2004. This was the second event in a series
of three, organized around the Centro + Media
Exhibition, which ran from August 19-22 at Centro De Diseno Cine y Televisión,
Mexico City. For an account of the opening event, please read the article
written on Monday, August 30 of 2004. The third event called CentroAmedia
happened at the Rufino
Tamayo Museum on Saturday, August 21 of 2004. The three events featured
local and international Latin American artists active in the new-media
Arte Alameda is a cultural center dedicated to the arts in new media
and its crossover to more established practices. The building used to
be a church and its acoustics and large walls make it a great space to
enjoy new-media performances. The set-up adopted for the performance was
refreshing; it presented the artists in front of a large projection on
the wall. People sat on two large sofas and on the floor, right behind
the performers; this way, they were able to see everything the artists
did on their computers. There was also freedom to walk around, so audience
members could sit very close to the artists to better understand what
they were doing.
Periferico was an improvisational session bringing
together artists who mixed music and visuals. Some of the performers had
never played together. Some were locals while others flew from different
parts of Latin America. The performers included Mauricio Montero(no website),
Gillermo Amato(no website), Mario de Vega (no website), Antonio
Mendoza, Jorge Castro,
Ricardo Rendon, Israel M, Ivan
Mackern, Diang, Laura Carmona, Santiago
Ortiz and Christian
Oyarzun and Arcangel
The evening started with Mauricio Montero and Guillermo Amato. The sound
was loud, and the melody was a bit on the mellow side, strategically using
noise in part to create a slow pattern. The images were mainly abstract
with a repetitive juxtaposition of a close-up of a child’s face
and the silhouette of a man against a white background, which were also
complemented with abstractions deriving from the grid.
Mendoza and Jorge Castro improvised visuals to the sound of Mario
de Vega. Antonio recycled images from movies
and news footage, which were filtered with rich reds, greens, and
blues. His images included planes, a hand pouring beer into a thin glass,
multicolored dinosaurs fighting, an atomic bomb and other explosions,
and the flag of the United States. Mario created sound patterns by moving
the knobs on his mixer back and forth resembling the sound of surfing
for a radio station in an analog radio. The sound was jarring and felt
destructive to the ear. It consisted of tones without a specific beat.
Jorge Castro mixed a set
of abstractions. But his most interesting material came when he performed
alone. At one point he presented a video of a dancer whose moves turned
into geometrical patterns, which shifted in support of the smallest changes
in the sound. At times the dancer became a complete abstraction--and then
she would once again appear moving in sync with the music. The same woman
also appeared under
water in another video, which was really slow in its development;
here, she occasionally came up for air.
Rendon and Mario De Vega performed together. Rendon presented abstract
visuals consisting of white and gray squares against a black background,
while Mario played an instrumental composition completely devoid of an
obvious rhythm. This was one of the longest performances of the night,
as it lasted over forty minutes. It was quite demanding of the audience
as, both, the rhythm and image changed very slowly, and one could daze
out and daydream losing track of the audio-visual development, especially
because there was no obvious progression and loops were brought back by
both performers. Then Ricardo also performed a sound piece on his own.
Abreu (center of picture) played a sound piece resembling his previous
improvisation at Centro + Media, which consisted
of a beat somewhat allegorical of electronic dub. Abreu abstracted the
traditional guaguanco pattern, an Afro-Cuban rhythm. Rendon complemented
his performance with more
abstract graphics which were, again, deriving from grid patterns.
Mackern performed two sets. He manipulated sound and image simultaneously.
Mackern used an interface that made his graphics sensitive to his manipulation
of sound. Here, again, his material aesthetically resembled his previous
performance--that is, slow melodies that, at the push of a button, swiftly
switched graphics and composition. At times the graphics were as simple
as a horizontal line in the middle of a black screen, and at others it
was a collage of loops covering the entire wall.
and Laura Carmona performed together. They appeared to know each other’s
material well before coming into the performance. There were formal similarities,
for instance Laura’s
graphics had a steady pace much like walking. Her images, which consisted
of patterns with the occasional human figure and landscape, always
filled the page with pastel colors. The overall look was grainy. Diang’s
sound was very steady, with no obvious beat, but the sound and image allowed
the audience to find a rhythm that crossed over from the aural to the
spatial. Much like Laura’s visuals, Diang’s sound was always
full, and kept a consistent tone that shifted slowly, carefully matching
Constantini (on the right) performed by himself. He mixed figurative
and abstract images to a mid/slow-tempo sound composition. Here again
the sound’s formal qualities matched the aesthetic of the visuals,
as the aural patterns corresponded with the visual fade-ins and outs.
The graphics shifted from abstractions,
obviously derived from the grid, to porn images, which had been adjusted
by color filters to match the overall palette.
Ortiz, Christian Oyarzun, and Israel M (from left to right) were the
last to perform. Ortiz and Israel M collaborated on the sound, while Oyarzun
mixed graphics. Ortiz also showed his
visual interface used to create the sound. Oyarzun
presented graphic variations of a circle not too dissimilar from his installation
at Centro + Media. Many of the previous performances
stayed away from a concrete rhythm (except for Mackern), but this last
performance actually presented very specific patterns that at the same
time problematized their own system; and there was still not a specific
“beat” heard. There was a “back and forth” resembling
Mario De Vega’s previous performance, but here there was no "real
life" knob, just a virtual one that was created in a Flash interface.
The overall aesthetic was very consistent, regardless of the fact that
some of these artists had never played together; yet the artists created
abstract sounds and images that were slow to change while constantly relying
on short visual and aural loops. The result was material open-ended for
interpretation, overtly denying a specific meaning other than experiencing
the process of creating the composition through improvisational collaborations.
The performers then could claim autonomy--a momentary space outside "politics,"
as their interests lied in the creation of images and sounds that challenged
the immediate perception of the viewer. It appears that phenomenology
is comfortably finding its way back into the arts through the emerging
fields of the “ruidistas” (noise-makers). Politics, obviously,
do not disappear in these images, even when the propositions by the performances
may implicitly claim to do so. But this is a subject for my last segment
in this series of texts.
The evening ended over drinks at the top of Hotel
all of the artists from abroad stayed. Here, some of the performers relaxed
over drinks while watching a large projection on the wall of an adjacent
building of Ana Guevara, the track & field Mexican star, qualifying
for the Olympic semi-finals.