September 5, 2019
Finding Feelings with Installation Artist Javier Prieto
Detroit-based artist Javier Prieto is a thinker.
His art is born out of research and philosophy and history, an ode to the ever-changing nature of the world and the ineffability of it all. We are so excited to see his interactive installation Asymmetric Affects at Renegade Detroit and caught up with him before the Fair to hear more about his mesmerizing installation.
Hi Javier! Starting with the beginning of your project, what inspired you to create Asymmetric Affects?
In short, the need for creating something where I could find feelings. My personal search into understanding where our bodies start and end – which feelings and actions are ours and which are object-related – took me into the domains of modern neuroscience, the evolution of feelings in organic bodies, philosophical discussions about free will, embodiments and a power-intrinsic “vibrant matter” (Jane Bennet).
An ode to the ancient greek tradition of finding divine and beyond comprehensible qualities in matter.
Asymmetric Affects calls for being conscience about what we are part of: to break down an event (climate change, segregation, North Dakota Pipeline) into all the factors that make it manifest itself, while realizing that we as humans can only make so many decisions. Therefore, the name “Asymmetric Affects” is because this power to affect and be affected is distributed unevenly throughout the assembles we are part of. The aesthetics of the installation is an ode to the Ancient Greek tradition of finding divine and beyond comprehensible qualities in matter by using polyhedra (platonic solids).
Such a fascinating idea – especially how it relates back handmade objects and craft. How did you choose your materials AKA “divine matter”? :~)
I was part of a MakerSpace in Mexico City where I experimented with a wide variety of mediums, formats and tools. It was then when I learned to do 2D assemble sculptures. I have always been mesmerized with origami and other Japanese art, 3D tessellations and Mexican weavery which takes me to the “skin” of these sculptures. I was picturing something subtle and geodesic that could speak for a “structural” component, with luminous and acoustic responses to what they could “listen”. The “responsive” facet comes from my preference for digital and electronic art and my background as an engineer. Electronic components make a huge part of our lives nowadays, thus being part of augmenting our interaction with non-human entities.
What was your fabrication process? Did you run into any roadblocks, hiccups, or problems?
Coming up with the actual shapes took me countless prototypes. From laser-cutting to ironing and coding, this installation has tried me on my DIY skills, really. Pieces are cut and engraved with a laser-cutting machine, then the hard parts are assembled while the “soft” polypropylene sheets are bent and then tied up together with carefully designed tabs. Then, the testing phase takes place.
Have a contingency plan, ALWAYS.
I know a 10,000 different ways of how NOT to do this installation. Matter has its own way of manifesting its probability of happening (or not). It’s an ever-changing one that demands for local materials wherever it goes, be it because some pieces didn’t arrive to its destination, something breaks or does not work or they must be enhanced to the space they’ll be showcased. These problems come with the opportunity of collaborating with local people, which is always fortuitous and I’m grateful for. Have a contingency plan, ALWAYS.
What’s up next?
I’m working on a performance that may take place next year, with an amazing (surprise) dancer and maybe something for this winter ; ).
Last but not least, some thank yous!
I want to thank Olivia Gilmore for being the catalyst of the installation display in Detroit, to Paulina Petkoski and Playground Detroit for giving me a chance to be part of this and finally and most importantly, to the Hernandez family. Special thanks goes to Jessica Hernandez, who brought unconditional support and love to this.
Thanks to Javier for your time and the awesome installation. We can’t wait to see it IRL.
Founder and president of the Laboratorio Interdisciplinario de Diseño in 2011, educational platform invested in artistic production techniques exploration and local and community-based economies stimulation. Implemented and taught a series of workshops directed to faculty members of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), encouraging more and better inclusion of technology in the classrooms. Along a transdisciplinary background, he holds a certificate from UNAM in Philosophy, Art and Science and a specialization from the University of California, San Diego in the Internet of Things (IoT), among many workshops. With great interest in neurosciences, post-humanities and biology, he undertakes a research aimed to produce artistic work related to current socio-political contexts while challenging the role of science in the participation of their own definitions.