ART, TECHNOLOGY AND NEW MEDIA WITH PATXI ARAÚJO IN ART MADRID’20

Within the activities program "Art Madrid-Proyector’20" organiSed throughout last February, one of the most interactive actions was offered by Patxi Araújo at the Medialab Prado cultural centre. This artist offered a master class on February 12th, but also had a digital installation on the main facade of the building that was in operation for a month. We want to remember the result of this experience and offer you the possibility to enjoy the full master class online for all those who could not attend.

Patxi Araújo (Iruña, 1967) is an artist, researcher and teacher. He combines his academic work at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of the Basque Country with his artistic career. In the field of creation, Patxi was interested from the beginning in the technological application to the arts, in the search for an aesthetic that deals with concepts such as the human, the natural, the creation of spaces, the corporeal... through programming and the use of the software. His work has been recognised and selected in different biennials, festivals and video art and electronic experimentation competitions, such as "Share Festival XIII", Il Moderno Prometeo, Turin (2018); "Zinetika Festival", Bilbao (2018); "Life at the Edges", Science Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin (2018); “Osmosis Audiovisual Media Festival”, Taipei (2016), to name just a few.

True to his career, Patxi Araújo's master class entitled “All Prophets are Wrong” offered a vital and practical tour on the use of technology and computer programming in artistic creation. We are entering a hybrid terrain, where processes require knowledge contributed from different areas so that technological training and creative impulse merge into a field yet to be explored. Like any new language, it is a matter of mastering a technique, methods that depart from traditional artistic disciplines, not only because of their expression but also because of the type of training required. This is one of the essential characteristics of technological art, a fully up-to-date area that many authors come to because of their need to work with guidelines beyond the conventional. Likewise, the presence of technology and digital in our environment makes it natural for many to opt for these paths and consider projects that exceed the limits of physical support, allowing the creation of pieces that work with concepts such as the unpredictable, chance or randomness, philosophical questions that do not easily fit within the most classical art.





Patxi shared with us part of his experience and put into practice some of the technological processes that he uses in his work, in a fascinating session where we all could appreciate how to create through code and the final result achieved. In addition, one of the most complex parts of the process was revealed: the degree of abstraction with which the programming is carried out because the artist must at all times be aware of the aesthetic objective that he seeks, but often he does not come to see it until coding is well advanced. In this creative speciality, it is also essential to gain experience and be up to date with all the technological innovations applicable to the artistic world.

In addition to the master class, Patxi carried out a site-specific artwork for the main facade of Medialab Prado, equipped with a large 14 x 9 metre LED panel to display technological and digital projects. His proposal was an interactive literary-visual piece that required public intervention to activate its operation. With the title “Sherezade”, the work elaborated sentences in the scheme: article + noun + adjective, taking the words from a database of almost 2,000 terms. The combination of the 24 prepositions, 31 articles, 926 adjectives and 726 nouns activates when people and elements cross the square located in front of the Medialab building, thanks to a sensor camera that collects movements. In full operation, "Sherezade" shuffles the words on the screen, to offer a final phrase that can be as absurd and surreal as poetic.



The work was inaugurated on February 12th, at the end of the master class, and remained installed until March 12th. A whole month in which the public was able to play automatic writing with “Sherezade”, as a true exercise in Dadaism in the 21st century.

We want to thank the support that Medialab Prado gave us at all times to host the activities of the parallel program. The centre defines as a citizen laboratory for the production, research and dissemination of cultural projects. In the words of its director, Marcos García, Medialab “characterises by offering a place for experimentation and collaborative creation of projects. It is what we call a 'citizen lab', a space in the city where neighbours can come together to develop an idea. Unlike traditional cultural centres –which can host an exhibition or a concert–, the idea here is that people come together to 'do'. There is always someone with a proposal and others who join it as collaborators”. And we were able to verify this philosophy during the development of the program, in which many regular users of the centre were encouraged to participate.

 

Buying the first work of art always instils respect. A difficult feeling to define that mixes vertigo with adrenaline. But over uncertainty and caution, a pleasurable sense of connection, understanding, and desire prevails. That work that, once seen, stays in the mind, reappears in the memory several times a day and seems to tell you that it is willing to be part of your home, is the perfect candidate to make the decision.

In the first steps, many collectors do point out that one does not start from an established plan, but rather that one acquires pieces based on taste and the connection one feels with them until, after time, they realise that the volume of works that accumulates can be labelled as a "collection". For example, this is how Alicia Aza explains it:

“I was not aware that I was collecting until many years later when a third party named me as a collector and talked about my collection. In 2005, I became aware of what collecting means and decided to articulate a collection with an identity of criteria and formats”.

Marcos Martín Blanco, co-founder, with his wife Elena Rueda, of the MER Collection, shares this same opinion:

“Collecting has been a passion, driven by a visceral state that encourages you to do so. The collection, in terms of acquisitions, has not been particularly complicated because, let's face it: it is easy to buy because they are all beautiful things and you have some clear idea of where you want to go, but at first those preferences were not so clear. It is with the time that a criterion is being formed”.

It is not always this way, of course, but for the buyer who starts out on this path, the personal connection that entails the first piece is essential. There it is the germ of a lasting relationship that is not limited to a simple aesthetic question but is an open window to knowledge, to exploration, to a world that is often unknown to us and awakens our fascination. The seed of that connection is purely sentimental, and it is precisely this impulse that determines the first acquisitions. The first piece is never forgotten.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Ana Maqueda

Exceeding the usual recommendations made by advisers and agents, rare is the occasion when the art lover decides to buy by pure investment. These paths usually open later, when the volume of pieces is large enough. In addition, there are those who are a bit against this classic concept of the traditional collector, approached from an eccentric, elitist and little accessible vision. On the contrary, art buyers are, above all, art lovers, sentient beings and permeable to creative stimulus who, at a given moment, decide to deepen the relationship they already have with art to take a piece home.

It is not that hard to overcome that small psychological barrier that turns the visitor into a buyer if one approaches the matter from a more personal and intimate perspective than from social consideration. Small-format works, graphic work or serial photography are of great help for this, whose price range, generally more affordable, allows a closer comparison to the daily basis expenses. In this way, the purchase of art falls within the range of feasible activities and becomes something close and possible.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Marc Cisneros

At that moment, a different relationship with art begins, based on pure experience and coexistence with the acquired piece. Perhaps it can be seen as an act of daring, but on many occasions, it is more a matter of necessity and transformation. Collectors also agree that the acquisition of an artwork is an exercise on personal analysis and opening up to a new field of knowledge that was previously alien to us. Alicia Aza explains that the reason she acquired her first piece of video art, by Sergio Prego, is because she did not understand it and because she saw it as a challenge and an opportunity to self-improve. This open window to knowledge creates new connections and bonds with creators, as one of the most fascinating parts of the process. Candela Álvarez Soldevilla explains that

"I think the most interesting thing in the art world is talking to artists. They are people with a special sensitivity to listen and understand.”

And Alicia Aza also says:

"I can share the satisfaction of being able to count on many artists in my circle of close friends today, and that is a long way to go."

Thus, with works that seem acceptable within the horizon of expenses that each one considers affordable, it is easy to find a piece that catches us. Since then, our home also evolves into a space in which art has a permanent place and presence, and there is no doubt that this transforms us inside.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Henar Herguera

Jaime Sordo, owner of Los Bragales collection and founder of the 9915 Contemporary Art Collectors Association, has always defined his relationship with art as a true passion and a vital necessity. For buyers who start on this path, he has the following recommendation:

“It is an essential condition that they feel the need to live with their passion to enjoy the works. Another very important aspect is that before making decisions for purchases, they are informed, so it is necessary to read specialised newspapers and books, visit exhibitions and museums and a lot of contact with galleries, which is an important and very specific source of information of the artists they represent. Finally, the presence in national and international art fairs. All this generates information and training.”

Indeed, fairs have become a good place for discovery because they condense a wide offer and allow diverse and global contact in a concentrated way. For this reason, many new generation buyers start in the context of an event such as Art Madrid, whose closeness and quality constitute a unique opportunity to meet, soak up and feed the passion for art.

(*) quotes taken from various interviews published in public media between 2013 and 2019.