Fernando Velázquez, 2018 totems, customized motherboards, micro controllers, leds, small speakers, lasers, sensors, computer, raspberri, modem, 5 channel soundtrack
Poetic license operates like a hiatus - an “agent provocateur”, a short circuit - into the atrophy of a situation that finds itself in a state of political, social, confessional, ethnic, economic or military crisis of lethargy. Through the absurd and sometimes impertinent nature of poetic act, art provokes a moment of suspended meaning, a sensation of senselessness that may reveal the absurdity of the situation. Via this act fo transgression, the poetic act makes one step back for an instant from the circumstances. In short, it make one look at things differently. Francis Alys
An iceberg is a block of ice that, after breaking loose from a glacier, wanders around the oceans and seas until it disappears. Islands, even continents adrift, the icebergs are fascinating, fragile and powerful; beautiful and daunting. They are ephemeral and elegantly materialize nature in its course.
The image of the iceberg raises countless thoughts in my mind, but what really awakens my curiosity and my imagination is the fact that the largest part of an iceberg remains hidden, dormant, and invisible to our eyes. This aspect led me to elaborate a series of allegories – for example, that the unconscious was the invisible part of an iceberg called consciousness. We know that our senses are able to assess a limited portion of the world. What we can access about any phenomena will be necessarily a partial and reduced perspective of it. Thus, the curiosity to search for the occult side of things would be an essential strategy for our survival and expansion.
It is based on suppositions such as these that, in this new series, I wish to reflect on the historical time in which we live in, a time ruled by the critical conflict between men and technology.
The non-linear narrative proposed by this body of works suggests an iceberg that opposes the “natural intelligence” developed by Homo sapiens during millennia (represented in the aerial images of the Antarctic interfered with quotes from the history of philosophy) to the artificial, synthetic, exponential and singular intelligence of current computers (represented by the 11 networked microcontrollers that command the score of the piece). The organic, intuitive and anthropophagic research process allows me to establish a dialogue with my previous production. It is possible to recognize ideas, concepts, quotes and reconfigurations of works from the series in between, Mindscapes and Reconhecimento de Padrões (Pattern recognition).
Human beings are basically water and, like icebergs, we break loose from our matrix to escape the frictions of life until the limits of our bodies.
I have never seen an iceberg, though I am one.
Text by Daniela Bousso
“An iceberg is a mountain of ice that, after detaching from a glacier, wanders the oceans and seas until it disappears. They are ephemeral and elegantly materialize nature in process. Human brings are basically made of water and, like icebergs, we detach from our matrix to avoid life’s conflicts until our bodies succumb. I have never seen an iceberg even though I am one.” Fernando Velázquez, winter 2018.
More than an installation, Iceberg is an intervention that captures two significant changes between the 20th and the 21st centuries: the notion of space and representation. Fernando Velázquez alters the concept of “place” by creating spaces that aren’t organized by the idea of fixture, that try to break loose from the idea of space-time. This territory is shaky, it is the liquid space construed by Bauman that speaks louder and the image cannot represent it anymore. In its latency and invisibility, it integrates with a film re-conception that gives up the linear narrative in order to configure an immaterial and fictitious flow, in which emotions aren’t supported.
Jacques Rancière states that images from a given system (associated to spectacle) can avoid becoming accomplices to this very system, as long as they oppose their own inaction as images and their own alienated existence. For the philosopher, the only way to counter something is to incorporate a “living action” that abolished images (from screens) and sent them into darkness. Only then there would be a real opposition to the deception of the spectacle.
The disintegration of images that Iceberg operates is now central. If before the artist worked merging different realities, now the dissolution of reality arises, an action of un-representing in his work. And thus, subjectivities emerge from the void, from divergence, from immobility and from the absence of images.
Entering Iceberg means being immediately transported to a strange experience. To the sound of megaphones, we loose the ground in Iceberg. Under our feet, sometimes, a blue light comes from a laser, a vestige of the pictorial, disruptive. A fire-red laser hovers over our heads. Blue and red establish two orthogonal force fields that evoke NASA or military practices.
Creating an abyss is a more effective way to reflect on the time we live in. Sound and space spread and deconstruct the spectators’ physical impulse – they don’t move. How can one move around in a space that is pure decomposition, like smoke? Fractioning spaces, segmenting the mediums that conform the installation is also part of an additional game, in which philosophy and words seem to have become useless.
Through the mediation of devices, the artist presents the idea of flow in opposition to the concept of finitude. There are three more works, each produced in a different medium. But the woodwork – addressed through the configuration of almost precarious wooden totems – that defines the plasticity of the pieces and, somehow, brings them together. Wood gives the exhibition a three-dimensional aspect, as it is a common element to both spaces in the show.
With several layers, the work expands beyond the sensors, the programming and the robotics that permeate the installation. Outside the spatial intervention there are interactive objects, separated from the installation to promote actions between the work and the spectators. A neon piece configures a visual poem: “Loop (mente a mente)”, a wordplay that refers to the most basic technology programs and evokes ethical questions surrounding the technological invasion in our daily lives. In the connections between minds, one seeks the mind’s characteristics, what it is, where it is.
A second Iceberg – with a joystick and auxiliary vision prosthesis, virtual reality glasses to navigate in 3D – it emits messages that can emerge in our consciousness or not, and our bodies seem to float between the lysergic shapes and colors. In this work, the various layers and meanings pass through our desire to escape the rawness of the real world, to put us in a more oneiric place within the malleability of the shapes.
A cellphone, a record player and a colorless vinyl disc conform a system of Augmented Reality that reproduces the installation’s sounds, which will end up like an iceberg, disappearing in its ephemerality. The work debates the cycles of technological objects and their obsolescence in the face of the art market’s demands for perpetuity. The significance becomes clearer as different platforms are broken loose.
Iceberg is an artwork without images or exact contents, its programming only creates fragments, abstractions. It operates under the signs of dismantling, of discontinued expanded ruptures, of the “critical clash between men and technology”, as Velázquez himself puts it. Even though our bodies seek the presence sensors that activate the texts and lasers in the installation, the phrases fade away. The non-linearity is associated to the idea of disappearance and disintegration. The work creates a kind of fiction without a narrative, a non-cartography that flows without a topos, with no central perspective. The floating irregular surface makes our bodies vulnerable, for it eliminates any possible rationality through the conception of an anti-Renaissance space.
The absence of perspective and the annihilation of centuries of philosophy intertwine in the installation. There isn’t a urban space to be explored; there is no random wandering through the cities like in the modernist surrealist towns. Priscila Arantes noted that “the surrealist city reveals spaces that, like dreams, bring crossroads, contradictions that are merged and produce illuminated short-circuits (profane illumination”. She also comments that Walter Benjamin, in The Book of Passages, approaches the idea of a city as the “echo of history, of voices, desires, dreams and memories that compose the social scenario”. And when seeing Iceberg, where does it leave use; have poetry, aesthetics, desires, work, memories, dreams and existence become null voices in our current lifetime?
Everything is lost in the rapids of projections, philosophical essays’ excerpts; in the sometimes illegible words, in the speed imposed by the work’s programming, in the light that tears the exhibition space, and arena where gladiators are long gone. Images from Google Maps are transformed into shapeless places; an intentional light intervention voids the contrasts, leaks out, invades and dilutes the shapes – amnesia, as if memory had suffered a paradigmatic erasing. Like a goodbye to modern utopias, the philosophical phrases are fleeting, elusive in the projection. In the flush of superimposed words underlining the light, blinding our eyes, everything becomes useless, with no return, as if a natural phenomenon invaded science and destructed the knowledge accumulated for centuries, swept under the rug of waste, of endless consumerism.
Even the pictorial aspects, a characteristic aspect materialized in Fernando’s work up to this point, is now practically lacking in Iceberg. There are nearly no vestiges of painting there, just the blue and red lasers that attest to a persistent chromaticism, a foreign body within the other elements. From our motionless bodies only our eyes move restlessly, seeking a clear image, but what do we see? Almost nothing, reduction, point nearly zero. But nearly is still a vestige of existence, even if there’s nothing to be consumed – if there were, it would have to be something in the order of the impossible, contradicting the algorithm.
Velázquez is talking about an impalpable reality, where everything seems to reach places that cannot fix our bodies anymore. Everything seems to move towards the drama of impossibility. Today the meeting of the nodal points in Deleuze’s rhizome, also present in some of his previous works, becomes improbable. The fold, the turning point, is gone. Now there is no more walking, only drifting, floating; no more Situationists or nomads. There has been an escape, an accident, and the word “drift” gains new meaning when the drifting of shipwrecks or of locationless* people settles. These are new drifts, entropic, from ill-fates migrations, in a planet with a finite life**, in which the right to move around is lost.
If the artist’s voice doesn’t echo from this exact location, at least it in this place that he places our bodies to evoke our consciousness. In a place of non-location, Velázquez promotes a circuit, or a short-circuit from the flow, and establishes a mental landscape with the spectator, a minefield, locationless. Him and an Iceberg – here is a beautiful metaphor – while wishing to detach from the glacier, from our matrix, or even, who knows, from modernist traditions.
From the mediation experience this works offers, in which the flood of absence is able to enhance nothingness and emptiness, the artist elaborates a poetic and philosophical friction, a “flow-circuit” between the bodies of the spectators and the interactive devices, tools that aren’t always playful in contemporary art, but which hold the power to displace and move us between languages. As Fernando Velázquez states in his essay, the strategy of looking for the hidden side of things and phenomena would be a way of surviving and expanding.
References: Arantes, Priscila. Cartografias líquidas: a cidade como escrita ou a escrita da cidade. In: Bambozzi, Lucas; Bastos, Marcus; Minelli, Rodrigo. Mediações, tecnologia e espaço público. São Paulo: Conrad Editora do Brasil, 2010. p. 79-80. Bauman, Zygmunt. Modernidade líquida. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Editor, 2001. Rancière, Jacques. The emancipated Spectator. London: Verso 2011. p. 85-86. ______. En quel temps vivons-nous? Paris: La Fabrique éditions, 2017.
Text by Josué Mattos
Fernando Velázquez - Iceberg
Iceberg (2018) is surrounded by machines that structure the space with flying straight lines. Shaped in a way that evokes slender bodies, they slightly overpass the heads of anyone observing the aerial images projected onto the floor. Sometimes the red lines they emit aren’t perceived, while they conform curbing structures. With a will of their own, despite being vulnerable to the electrical cables, they build provisional webs. They watch us all around, from above. They involve whoever tries to quickly learn what is around. They seem to archive and preserve the knowledge produced throughout millennia. Camouflaged by the topography from above, the machines become hosts for evasive thoughts that review or inaugurate new reflections similar to what we can access from the tip of the iceberg.
Phrases appear and disappear in a matter of seconds. Together with their author and date, they evoke lasting experiences, introduce questions with small excerpts of affirmations, as if presenting the body transported by the invisible things it carries. They give away clues for interpreting the world through collages of ideas, while a target tirelessly seeks something all over the iceberg. The act of aiming and overflying the landscape is the base for single ideas that complete each other in an anachronistic manner. They are exhaustively reproduced and invite anxious eyes to scan unknown areas, creating experimental problems and texts; just like death, which is seen as an event to be experimented existentially. While the soundtrack for Iceberg pulses as if inviting us to a long journey, it also conducts spectators to reflect upon the fact that there has never been a time in which it didn’t exist. It just occurred to me that the installation isn’t anything but a rite of passage to the ones who intend to arise in the idea that existence precedes essence and that the invisible parts of our bodies host the imperceptible parts that structure it. Together with reason, it would be another immortal entity. At another point in the path, the act of educating is presented as a process that comes from confronting problems, which leads the spectator to the iceberg’s invisible part. That which cannot be access in the thoughts embodied in the sentences get closer to the idea that we know very little about our identity as an iceberg. This is closer to the artist’s idea when he states he is an iceberg even though he never even saw one.
Throughout this journey, our visibility can be diminished by transmission flaws that overlap one another in an accelerated rhythm, creating turbulence and instability in the flight. The target still frenetically crosses inhospitable areas when we read about the happiness that comes from working less. Suddenly, thw warnings isseud during take-off come to mind: “In the unlikely event of a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the panels above your seat. Secure your own mask first before helping others.” The crew asks all passagens to pay attention because this information could be forgotten between flights, even among frequent flyers. Forgetting past experiences condemns us to repeating them, says the iceberg.
ICEBERG – June 21 to August 11, 2018
Woodwork - Leo Ceolin (Galpão Base)
Robotics and installation programming: Maurício Jabur (Mau Maker)
3D and VR: Nacho Durán and Gabriel Andrés Díaz-Regañón
AR: Nacho Durán
Vinyl: Giordano Bruno Borges Garagem Fablab
Projection: On Projecões
Photography: Ignácio Aronovich
Executive production: Fernando Velázquez e Zipper Galeria
Agenor Mafra Neto, Luiz Rosa, Nacho Durán, Gabriel Dias Regañon, Leo Ceolin, Maurício Jabor, Giordano Bruno Borges, Jader Rosa, Marcos Cuzziol, Agda Carvalho, Marília Pasculli, Alexis Anastasiou, Red Bull Station, Itau Cultural, Denise Alves, Maria Vitória Bermejo, Otávio Vidoz, Vanessa Torrez, Carol Angelo, Mônica Gambarotto, Rodrigo Barbosa, Winny Choe, Paola Paes Manso, Lucas and Fabio Cimino, Tathiane Oberleitner, Andre Larcher and Rafael Freire. Barbosa, Winny Choe, Paola Paes Manso, Lucas e Fabio Cimino, Tathiane Oberleitner, Andre Larcher, Rafael Freire, Nathalia Lavigne.