Long bio

My work teases out potential points of overlap in the visual cultures of folk religious traditions (specifically Afro-Caribbean, Latin American Catholicism, “magickal” occult traditions and Ancient Greek mythology), through transdisciplinary sculptural constructions, photographic collages, and video projects. I violently transubstantiate and fragment photographic and video materials culled from gay pornography found online into intersecting offline planes and forms that highlight the contingent semiotics of the image.

The present (digital, technological, informatical) moment has ushered in a bouleversement in the ontology of images. No longer necessarily a trace of something that once was, the Barthesian conceptualization of what an image “means” and what it is “worth” is hardly adequate these days, as the indexical traces that once composed it have been replaced by a different kind of equivalency. Images are now indexes of pure information processed by digital computational protocols too complicated for any one person to understand, created by an industrial-military complex in the name of capitalism. The image then, has become the language that Barthes insisted it previously could not be: a language accessible only to (non/post)-human actors. The image is the trace of a text we cannot understand, a symptom of an ideology. This new level of complexity and opaqueness images have contracted forecloses any possible naiveté to their reading, as they are now always already coded and dependent on invisible market forces.

Additionally, new online forms of visual and cultural dissemination, such as Tumblr, image boards, and the rise of user-created content (Web 2.0) have overthrown long held ideas regarding the social construction of authorship. Due to the ease of digital copying, hot-linking, reblogging and other forms of instantiation and reification, authorship loses its legitimating function, creating a moral and semiotic void that we have not yet filled. Pornographic images have not escaped this infection. Despite their place as purely “functional” images that serve a specific libidinal purpose, they still suffer from the ontological yoke their (en)coding presupposes.

My practice springs from magical thinking. As iterations of bodies on display, pornographic images incidentally elicit a haptic reading, an embodied, tactile, physical response from viewers. The erotic potential of these texts-as-images, because of the illegibility of their coded construction, perhaps is holographic in its deployment. Perhaps there’s more information in the code of these images than is apparent, perhaps a kind of “higher power” provides an agency for these files and technologies of reproduction. Perhaps the Benjaminian “aura” that once grounded cultural works can be supplanted by the “erotics” of a digital code made sentient material. What sort of spiritual material practices then, what kinds of articulated affect befit this “magic,” these transubstantiations, these “words made flesh”?

I grew up in Mexico, a country where the colonially imposed Catholic faith was hijacked by folk forms and ideas inherited from the native religions and Afro-Caribbean traditions imported during the slave trade. The postcolonial visual language of this creolized identity provides me with a visual and material model for my myth-making, a conceptual pastiche to anchor my modular, allegorical and iterative investigations into the erotics of the digital image.

The ritualistic studio practices I perform when creating my work and the online projects I am involved with (Image File Press, CTRL+W33D) propose a possible framework for understanding and filling the ontological, moral and spiritual void of the image in contemporary culture through the deployment of the presumed holographic erotics of the code that constitutes them. In other words, the specific scars that image and video codecs manifest on images, the digital tags that create specific groupings of image information files, and the technologies and machineries of reproduction (whether it be projectors, printers, digital interfaces, or the artist’s hands) are the “raw materials” for a performative, sympathetic magic based on mythopoeic thought.

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