THE ECSTATIC TRAVEL SERIES
Hunter College Times Square Gallery
The Ecstatic Travel is a video installation that combines ancient and contemporary culture through a celebration of visual proximities to the living non-human. "The Ecstatic Travel Series" is a fictional digital travel through a contemporary digital plant archive that traces plant relationships to humans. The sound of the installation pretends to be ethnographic recording, but actually is sound appropriated and abstracted from static running machines and McDonald's ads to play with the idea of contemporary folklore.
The Ecstatic Travel is conformed by seven cases of trips to places. Places with stories that reflect current construction of knowledge in relation to nature are accessed through its visual fragments. For instance, places that have been disrupted by nature, tropical island vacations utopias from other person´s trips, private gardens that are accesible only by images, sink holes around the world, and "Involuntary Parks" .
1.The Combo Whopper Case
2.The Static Runner Case
3.The Pointing Naturalist Case
4.The Cubicle Anthropologist Case
5.The Reverse Travel Case
6.The Impossible Furniture Case
7.The Weather Study Case
These videos are hosted by abstract modernist furniture, assembled to fulfill an old botanical painting original function. An Indian painting of a palm that was meant to be sent to Europe to be included in a Victorian furniture, but for some reason, didn't happen. It is painted in the miniature style, which was forced to look as western botanical illustration. This image contains the complex genealogy of colonialism and domination in its impure visual traits.
In order to fulfill its original purpose to be included in Western furniture and to push this situation one step forward, I assembled fictional furniture, consisting in found pieces of institutional office-style furniture at the Hunter MFA Building. This furniture hosts the palm image and at the same time it acts as a cabinet to host my subjective collection of artifacts and images of plants and rocks.
The layers of the installation work as archaeological excavations of different systems that have failed to provide an accurate read of the non-human: Institutional structures that reflect an impossible order of the world in forms of furniture, cements rocks and corporate images of people relating to plants. The basic materials of the installation are inserted in the Western paradigm, but I have transformed them in order to estrange them. The furniture was flipped and re-arranged abstractly, the images of the videos were estranged through the magnification of their fragments. Similarly, the artifacts included in the collection are specimens that exist in between spaces; petrified wood that resembles rock, vegetal fossils that look like indigenous carved stones and real plants in front of fake landscapes.
The Ecstatic Travel proposes a new ordering of things that affect the way of assimilating knowledge. It's a detour that forces the viewer to see and read information in a new way that is against linear readings. It tips in a new paradigm that tries to understand the non-human by proposing a new territory, which has its genealogies completely modified in relation to the real terrain.
As the installation is anchored in 21st Century language, it raises questions such as which is the contemporary primitivism? Where is the new otherness, now that the whole planet is colonized? Which would be the analogue of the exotic that the XVII Century naturalists were looking at? I suspect that it has to do with the new systems that have appeared in the last years: The web, which is a complete ecosystem in itself and some of the few places that are physically banned for human beings such as Involuntary Parks. Those are the only places that resist nowadays tourist colonization. They are places that can only be accessed by images.