Mateo Amaral is a multidisciplinary Argentinian artist, his work combines drawing, painting, 3D digital animation, glitch and electronic music production, among others. His research drives him to experiment with hypnotic audiovisual landscapes, exploring the relation between primitive digital aesthetics and the construction of subjective/colective reality.
His work revolves around his project "A black stone" an animated feature film in which he has been working since 2004, in which he invert the normal strategies of the cinematographic medium, showing the production before it is finished in different formats such as video installations, music, virtual reality pieces or live audiovisual performances.
In 2016, he was the winner of the first Virtual Reality award in the ITAU visual arts award. In addition to his individual work, he formed the artistic collective Oligatega with which he was a scholar in the program of workshops given by Guillermo Kuitca (2003). Mateo's work has been exhibit across the world, including: the Museum of Modern Art in Buenos Aires, the Robot Festival 08 (Bologna, Italy), the Trimarchi festival (Mar del Plata), ArtFutura festival (Buenos Aires), Artists' Television Access Francisco, (USA), Museum of Contemporary Art of Castile and Leon (Spain), Art Basel (Switzerland) and at the Experimentation Center of the Colón Theater (Buenos Aires).
Vision of art
1. Choose a work that represents you, describe it in relation to its format and materiality, its relation with time and space, its style and theme; detail its production process.
For some time now, I've been concentrating almost all of my production under the form of one and only work, an 'abstract sci-fi' film. This full-length film is built upon different levels of representation, some of which are completely abstract and noisy, in relation to its image, audio and narrative. But then others consist (somehow) of a realistic idea. There are others, finally, that are in-between. One of the most realistic levels pictures a scientific studying a certain phenomenon on a space station. His duty consists of recording the sound produced by the surrounding void, store it and then listening to it again from the beginning so as to find some hidden element that may connect these sounds together -recorded at different moments- in order to 'read' something out of them. These scenes are made using animation and rotoscopy (a technique a video sequence is used as a base to design the character’s movements), but using, largely, simple, spot-coloured polygones. The final result is quite contradictory, with nearly abstract forms that move very fluidly, instantly related to real human actions. This technique takes the animations of 1991's Another World videogame as reference. On the other hand, even the more abstract scenes use animation, but combined with a distortion process of video compression. Video compression is the system thanks to which digital video files can reduce its size in order to be managed, uploaded and downloaded from the web, or store an entire movie in a disk, among other benefits. In order to reduce the huge amount of information of a photo sequence to come up with a final video, codecs such as mp4's store the complete image only after a series of frames, then storing the altered fragments. When the video is watched, the software processes the complete and partial images to generate what's missing, and so the final movement seems clear and perfect. I tend to force or strain the software so that it uses complete wrong frames in order to create movement, and that's how I produce a distortion. That is to say, two unrelated images are connected to each other creating a new one that absorbes the colours and forms of one but moving like the other. These movements seem to drag the colours to a certain abstraction but in away that is so fluid and organic that generates a strong contradiction. I see this process as being similar to the way our souvenirs mix and modify ones with the others, even creating new ones, generating a new, customizable reality. Our brain isn't capable either of storing the amount of information it receives, and so, in order to simplify this process, associates some souvenirs to others and to concepts. This way, everytime we see a certain object for a second time, we recognize it was seen before, whether it may have been the exact same one, or a similar one. But each time we gain access to a certain souvenir, we alter it, modifying the entire remembrance network that define our construction of reality. The process I'm using to produce this movie is comparable to the duty of the space station mentioned above. I gather different types of information. On the one hand those parts already finished, animations, sound and music that I later on use again in different moments of the editing process. As I edit, new necessities emerge, suggesting new scenes. On the other hand the ideas for the different scenes, situations or loosen elements and the relation between them so as to shape the film as a whole. And finally, more abstract ideas. Information of different physical, psychological or social phenomena, data regarding products or technologies, historical facts, notes on someone's studies or my own deductions (sometimes) regarding sound. With all this information I build up the characters’ world of thoughts, their ideas, obsessions, disgressions, associations, interpolations, deductions, things they don't know and discover as time goes by, ideas that communicate with each other. A certain mythology with which they attempt to find answers to their questions. Little by little, all the loose ends I had in the beggining start to tie up to one another, and from those connections, new relations will emerge, connected to newer or older parts.
2. In general terms, how would you suggest to approach your work?
I would like whoever sees my work to be able to immerse into the noise and find small packages, some of which I've intentionally hidden, and connect them to those stored in his memory, in order to build up something else.
3. In reference to your work and your position in the national and international art fields, what tradition do you recognize yourself in? Who are your contemporary referents? What artists of previous generations are of interest to you?
My first approaches to art came from three distinctive fronts in different moments of my life: science fiction, animation and punk. I remember having seen, as a small child, a phrase written on a wall that deeply touched me: "All you know is wrong. Sex Pistols". It may seem a negative thought, but it think is quite the contrary (at the most, an ideal exaggeration to generate an impact). The idea of being able to do something without necessarily have the talent to do it, or having burnt one's eyelids studying, or just not using those knowledges in the way they're supposed to, knowing that anything that is established is absolutely true; that seems fundamental to come up with significant works of art. Suicide, at the peak of punk rock, used to go out on stage at the CBGB and plug in their distorted Farfisa and a primitive rhythm box, there was no guitar or drums. Alan Vega didn’t know how to sing but he could certainly monologue and howl like an insane person. Ian Curtis, Joy Division, because of their music, their basses, the combination of synths, because of their poetry and their savagely wild dance. Commune veggie crass punks doing videoart. Gyorgy Ligeti seemed to be having a great time doing continued sound surfaces without (at first sight) a clear narrative structure, Atari Teenage Riot, PIL; Oskar Fischinger, Eric Chahi -a french programmer and his videogame, Another World (1991), with rotoscopied animation in plain polygons. Matthew Barney, Normal McLaren. Tron and Space warrior, some of the first films using computer-based images (at a time when computer were ver big and didn't do that much but managed to synthesize visual forms). The result consisted of very abstract images next to real ones. Primitive representations, so far away from what they were representing that anything could happen in-between. James Patterson, from Presstube, Mariano Grassi, Sebastián Gordin, Debussy, Syn Criterio, Psíquicos litoraleños, Lee Perry, Velvet Underground, Diego Bianchi, Bruno Grisanti, Geoff from Oculart, Turner, The Raveonettes, The Monks, Yoshi Sodeoka, Merzbow, the last films by Gus Van Sant, Béla Tarr, Tomas Fracchia, Moebius, Phillip K. Dick, Max Gomez Canle, Matías Duville, Ralph Bakshy, Hundertwasser, Stockhausen, Fela Kuti, Flying Lizards, Roberto Jacoby, Terry Gilliam, William Gibson, Piranesi, Lynch, Munch, Chuck Jones, Tarkovsky, Katsushiro Otomo, Cronenberg, the rest of Oligatega Numeric, Maximiliano Bellmann, Alfio Demestre, Leandro Tartaglia and Mariano Giraud, Capitanes del espacio, John Cage, Joseph Nothing, Leafcuter John, Dumbo (a beatiful octopus living in the depths of the ocean), Kubrick, Chris Cunningham, Caspar David Friedrich, the Jajoukas music masters in Morocco -defined by Burroughs as a 4000 year-old rock band. Werner Herzog, the possibilities of sound recording, sampling, synthetizing. Among others, of course.