Bodies are being transformed into cities; their temporary coordinates are being transformed into spatial coordinates. in a poetic condensation, history has been substituted by geography, history by maps, and memory by scenery. we no longer see ourselves as duration, but as a location, or more precisely as disorientation within the urban/suburban universe.

CELESTE OLALQUIAGA, MEGALOPOLIS, 1992

   Marcel Proust said that the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking for new landscapes, but in having new eyes, as a metaphor for our perception’s drowsiness caused by routine. In fact, being an outsider– without a sense of belonging– awakens our senses. To the perception of a tourist, traveler or recently arrived foreigner, perceived images remain as mere observations, whose signifiers have not acquired significance yet, and thus have not lost it, becoming a custom. Inhabiting implies creating habits (from Latin, habitare that is defined by the act of residing, detaining, and getting accustomed to) and presumes appropriation of space (habitare is similar to habere: to have). For this reason, to the inhabitant of a place, streets, people, places and movement become evidences that eventually disappear as images, and become only meanings to its users. 

   Proust insisted that our perception of the exterior world was like a dream, where a mere change in our habits would turn in into poetry. With this, he predicted that the territories’ condition of novelty was not unlimited, and that a century later, we would live in the era of “death of exoticism” formulated by Marc Augé, forcing us to invent new ways of posing our eyes on our surroundings, due to the lack of new places to discover. Although he was contemporary to the birth of photography and cinema, Proust could not predict that those “new eyes” would be possible in the digital era through virtual reality. 

   In “Edited Monument” Andrés Durán invents a new gaze as he digitally transforms the public sculpture within Santiago´s civic quarters, which surrounds the gallery where this project is exhibited. He deals with those statues related to an era where art was created to the service of great historical and mythological tales: gods, emperors, heroes, soldiers, politicians and public figures that have inhabited our school books with stories which we end up forgetting. In fact, the aesthetic and patrimonial value of historical centers with its buildings and monuments– all belonging to another era, characteristic of a touristic city– tend to disappear for the inhabitant, becoming visual matter that only tourists look at and photograph, guided by brochures that indicate what is “most important” to visit. Moreover, the concept of reintegrating touristic patrimony to the real inhabited city, has led governments and institutions in different parts of the planet to establish “Patrimony days”, inviting the resident to become a tourist for a day and rediscover urban space. Conscious of those unattended urban sites, Durán decides to make these monuments visible again, by updating them and creating a dialogue with present time. 

   Assuming that “[…] in no case can a monument survive without a constant revaluation of its imagery without updating its semantics, which permanently talks about the dynamics of a city to which it is indebted”. 1

   This is about making visible what goes unnoticed. However, instead of merely appointing the place through photographic or video graphic record, through 3D modeling programs, and digital tampering, the artist decides to cover the historical monuments. This way he creates new shapes associated to the original by continuing decorative relief patterns, inverting and duplicating pedestals. In the resulting images, we can observe the vestiges-fragments of sculptural bodies that at times seem to be covered by a hypothetical cement cover, or inside out, emerging from the stone or being liberated from their cast. Paradoxically, even though those figures seem to be trapped, under an occult logic, they seem to be more visible than ever. Making visible the invisible- not reproducing it, citing Paul Klee- is a strategy that reminds us of the artists Christo and Jeanne Claude´s wrapping of public spaces. They aspired to reveal while hiding; this meant to show the same image but in a different manner: covering or concealing. 

   “Edited Monument” brings together a series of photographic set ups organized in four categories: “Seated Hero”, “Standing Hero”, “Equestrian”, and “Mythological Scenes”

   Through its titles, this typological organization works in two levels of interpretation. On one hand, it enables the identification and comprehension of a character, of that almost entirely covered figure, exaggerating the serial- like and almost stereotyped repetitive quality of the moment’s memorial purpose. On the other hand, by deliberately choosing typological strategies, he emphasizes those monuments’ invisibility and namelessness, opposing them to the initial purpose: to honor a character, commemorate a place or celebrate a date. 

   A projected video is added to the series of photo collages, whose movement and visual audios exaggerate fiction, creating tension between reality and strangeness. The spectator’s interpretation oscillates between believing in the existence of a possible historical contemporary sculpture, and imagining an unidentified flying object about to take off. In fact, by taking advantage of the realistic as well as artificial condition of the technological image, not only does the production of new imagery allow the creation of an illusion, but also unexpectedly, it speaks further of reality. In effect, in the era of information flow and saturation of images, it is commonplace to give excessive digital handling a devil- like quality. Moreover, in contrast to idealizations created by media, Duran chooses to deliberately invent a new reality to make us become aware of the real existence: how we inhabit the city today. 

 

[1] YORY, Carlos Mario, From the monument to the city, The end of the idea of a monument in the city´s new order temporal- 

long life for a monument space, CEJA, Bogotá, 2002, pg. 21

LOST IN SPACE

Nathalie Goffard