Già da alcuni anni il campo dell’audiovisivo ha oltrepassato i limiti dello schermo per espandersi sul mondo fisico: a mio avviso, si tratta di un’ideale contrappeso allo spazio che la virtualità e l’immaterialità stanno conquistando nelle nostre vite.
Di recente abbiamo avuto modo di vedere lavori sempre più interessanti che miravano allo sconvolgimento degli ordini spaziali e architettonici tramite la luce: dalle applicazioni di Claudio Sinatti con il suo Carillon Chandelier (che mi ha anche fatto scoprire l’artista di questa intervista, e che ringrazio) e sulle facciate degli edifici mediante un sapiente uso del software Isadore, al progetto Mangrovia (Visomat e Errorismith) presentato a Netmage quest’anno e successivamente a Transmediale e costantemente in opera all’interno del club M12 di Berlino, un live audovisivo incentrato sulla riorganizzazione sinestetica delle superfici di uno schermo costituto da prismi.
In questo articolo abbiamo intervistato il madrileno Pablo Valbuena, che con il suo progetto Augmented Sculptures è probabilmente lo sperimentatore più interessante in questo campo. Il suo lavoro con le strutture architettonica audiovisive è in costante evoluzione: ecelebrato alla scorsa edizione di Ars Electronica, il progetto di “scultura aumentata” dell’artista spagnolo è stato esposto in diversi contesti e situazioni, assumendo di volta in volta nomi e forme differenti. Da
Entramado-Plaza de luz, insallazione/scultura audiovisiva urbana aumentata, all’ingresso del Medialab del Prado, a Conde Duque sviluppato invece per il festivl Interactivos 07 sempre di Madrid: in tutti questi casi, il lavoro di Valbuena si dimostra assolutamente efficace e spetacolare, nel giocare percettivamente con i canoni conosicuti di suono, luce e spazialità
Sincronia, sinestesia, ribaltamento dei pregiudizi dello spettatore riguardo a bidimensionalità e tridimensionalità sono gli elementi chiave del lavoro di Valbuena, per il quale il design estremamente raffinato non è un fine (sterile) ma uno strumento per giocare con le nostre percezioni riguardo allo spazio ed al tempo.
These series of works started in 2007 at Medialab-Prado. They are focused on the temporary quality of space.
Approaching sculpture as volume in continuous transformation rather than a static mass, these works bring cinematic qualities to three-dimensional sculpture-screens.
For this purpose two layers are overlapped. On the one hand the physical layer, which controls the real space and shapes the volumetric base that serves as support for the second level, a virtual projected layer that allows to control transformation and sequentiality.
A couple of weeks ago i was at the MediaLab Madrid to spy on the Interactivos? workshop. Its theme was magic and illusion which i found very witty. Now that everyone is getting their hands dirty at interactivity, it has lost some of its charm and mysteries. Interactivos? invited the participants to build software pieces and interactive installations which can propose a rethinking of the usual scenario in magic tricks, marked by a very clear separation between the wizard and the spectators. The results were very impressive and i’ll write more about it later.
Pablo Valbuena’s Augmented Sculpture v 1.0 was probably one of the most mesmerizing pieces. Best is to start with the video. All the video footage is recorded directly from the installation, no post-prod’ trick!
The piece investigates space-time not only as a 3D environment, but as space in transformation revealed by two layers that overlap each other:
– the physical layer, which controls the real space and shapes the volumetric base that serves as support for the next level.
– a virtual projected layer that allows to control the transformation and sequentiality of space-time.
The blending of both levels gives the impression of physical and transformable geometry. The orverlapping produces an euclidean 3D space augmented by a transformable layer that Pablo can control to alter multiple dimensions of space-time.
These ideas come to life in an abstract and geometric envelope, enhanced with synesthetic audio elements and establishing a dialogue with the observer.
I thought the piece called for some questions to Pablo Valbuena:
What is your background? Where do you come from?
I was born in Madrid, where I studied Architecture, after finishing my degree I was looking for some tangent fields related to architecture that were more experimental, so I started developing architecture for videogames, films, and digital architecture as a concept designer.
After some time working for several studios around the world I have recently started to focus on personal research working as an artist, although probably you can see a bit of everything related to my previous background in my present work.
What was/were the biggest challenge(s) you encountered while working on this installation?
This piece was developed during the Interactivos? workshop at Medialab Madrid.I just had two weeks to produce it, that was for sure a big constraint, thanks to the help of some collaborators we managed to finish it.
Previously to the workshop I had a small scale model done where you could see how the idea was working. That solved most of the doubts I had of how the installation was going to be experienced.
The piece works overlapping two layers of space, a physical one and a
virtual one projected on top of the first. The small model was a bit difficult to adjust and scaling it up multiplied the problem and brought other issues, in the end the most difficult thing was adjusting the geometry (physical and virtual) of the two layers to make it fit. The optical aberration of projectors and the imperfections of dimensions made it difficult but finally I found some ways of solving it. It was definitely a key point to solve, because it is what gives life to the piece, the illusion that everything you see is part of the same physical object.
Can you tell us something about the way the installation works technically?
The installation is very low-tech in a way, which is something I really like about it. The most high tech device used is a projector, and in the actual technological race projection technology seems to be pretty old, it is something everyone is used to see.
I like this idea of not being on the edge technologically. It really seems that we have this hunger of producing new technologies for the sake of the new, not for what technology can do. The interesting part comes from the way you use the tool, or the ideas you want to speak about, not from the tool itself.
This is why I tried to keep it as simple as possible. We have been studying making the piece interactive to the observer. And this brought the argument of what kind of interaction should be. From my point of view, in this piece scale is going to be much more important in terms of interaction with the observer than any technological
trick you can play with. The way the observer is going to walk around the piece and discover it is going to produce much stronger impressions than any other reaction of the piece. Said that I may try other ways of interaction, but just in case it strengths the piece, not for the sake of it.
I would say that the interface with the observer should be more related to the idea of “promenade architecturale” from Le Corbusier than a more direct action/reaction sensor interface. For instance there is a huge difference of experiencing the installation live walking around it than watching it on video. This is the first piece of a line of work I am going to continue, the next step is going to be a bigger installation in a public urban space that I am currently prototyping and hopefully should be much stronger in terms of interaction through scale.
Pablo Valbuena’s Augmented Sculpture v. 1.2 is a remarkable synthesis of modernist-minimalist sculpture and video projection. Strangely this fascinating piece was not shown at the main Ars Electronica 2007 exhibition space in the OK Centrum Gallery but was instead relegated to a rather decrepit building on the streets of Linz. Fortunately we wandered around the town long enough to stumble upon it.
VIDEO CLIP LINK
One of the interesting features of Valbuena’s Augmented Sculpture is that it possesses an elegant simplicity that belies considerable technical skill. One wonders how he managed to exactly coordinate the lines and shapes projected in the two dimensional video onto his three-dimensional geometrical sculptural “screen”. It is a masterpiece of perspective.
Possessing a high level of skill is fairly common in the field of media art to which Valbuena belongs. In contrast, in the rarefied world of fine art, skill has to a significant extent been defined as irrelevant in the wake of the viral proliferation of the Duchampian Readymade and the fashion for grunge that dominates sculpture and sculptural installation at the turn of the millennium.
Fine art discarded skill in favour of the idea, however the reality is that the intellectual depth of a significant amount of contemporary art does not withstand scrutiny. And so we are often left with vapid junk. Eventually this junk will be forgotten as only small percentage of the artistic production of one fashionable generation is remembered when the next new generation is brought onto the shelves of the fine art emporiums.
I would encourage art lovers to visit more media art events because they are considerably more intellectually stimulating and aesthetically rewarding than what is on offer in the market and star-driven world of fine art. The problem with fine art is that one often has to put an enormous amount of effort into finding something worthwhile whereas in the sphere of media art one discovers both greater depth and more breadth. Ars Electronica is certainly an absolute must for any art lover’s calendar and it takes place every year!