Nomads ________________________________________________________________ Eduardo Kac Leonardo Editorial Advisor New Media Department University of Kentucky 207 Fine Arts Building Lexington, KY 40506-0022 U.S.A. E-mail: email@example.com _________________________________________ The Brazilian artists presented in this gallery share an interest in the exploration of contemporary issues in art through the use of new technologies---digital photographs, CD-ROMS, experimental telecommunications events and interactive installations. These works range from personal journeys to reflections on larger social issues and the impact of new media in our lives. In spite of their shared cultural background, they belong to a large tribe of electronic nomads. Some of them developed their work while living in the United States or in Europe and still today continue to travel or live abroad. Others have often traveled vicariously, either during worldwide telecommunications events or via identity voyages, such as the dramatic change of persona during Carnival. Their innovative works often displace common expectations of what Brazilian art should look like. Irene Faiguenboim and Flávio Ferraz digitally manipulate photographic images to create very personal tableaux. Faiguenboim's images reconstruct her process of motherhood, developing a visual narrative that speaks of the emotional fluctuations she went through along the way. The tone is at times anxious, at times humorous. Ferraz, on the other hand, transforms humor into a critical weapon. His light boxes often show images of himself dressed as the queen of Carnival, surrounded by other images that strike the viewer as allegories of the political and economic difficulties of the country. His satirical design for a new Brazilian currency exposes at once the instability of the economy and the emotional instability that one derives from it. Rodrigo Toledo and Diana Domingues work with three-dimensional environments. While Toledo develops what he calls "artist's virtual reality," compact and portable, Domingues modulates the physical gallery space with a large installation divided in four sectors. Toledo's CD-ROM, entitled Uneaten Future, blends a sophisticated non-linear immaterial architecture with highly personalized mythology. In the world created by the artist, cultural references are mixed; political, religious and economic forces are entangled. During navigation, the viewer reaches new levels. These can be seen as new spiritual levels or new steps in the corporate ladder. The commodification of life is exposed through interconnected spaces in which there is no redemption. Domingues addresses the transformations undergone by the human body in the domain of new medical technologies. Her installation creates metaphors of birth and death, mixing in the same environment blood and video images triggered by the viewer. In one case, the viewer passes through a tunnel made of ultrasound scans of a womb with a 6-month fetus. At the end of the tunnel, the visitor's image appears on a video monitor. Domingues is suggesting a process of re-birth, while encircling the viewer with electronically processed images. Gilbertto Prado and the late Paulo Laurentiz have created unique artworks with low-end telecommunications media. While living in France, Prado worked with other members of the telematic art group Art-Reseaux at the same time that he developed his own projects in telematic art. His telescanfax is a good example of how he hybridized multiple media to create new communicative images and situations. In this work, he appropriated images from French television with a hand scanner and re-transmitted them live as digital fax to other artists and museums around the world. The result is at once a deconstruction of the visual banalization promoted by commercial television and the creation of enigmatic images of mysterious force. Laurentiz was a pioneer of telecommunications art. As homage to his talent, tireless energy and generosity, he is represented here with a piece created with slow-scan television. In this piece, through sequences of frames, he used progressive geometric forms to evoke natural processes. Laurentiz was a very important figure in the context of Brazilian electronic art. In one instance, during the Carnival of 1990, he "invaded" the Louvre in Paris by faxing the French museum images of works in its collection that he had altered and manipulated. Laurentiz was inspired to create this event by André Malraux's "Imaginary Museum." The choice of time period for the "invasion" was crucial: Laurentiz wanted to criticize the commodified images of Brazilian "exoticism" that proliferate on European television during that time of the year (Carnival). With Laurentiz's sudden and tragic death, we have lost a gifted artist and original thinker.
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