Running in Squares
In Vertigo, a much-awaited two man show between Bitto and Emard Cañedo, the artists explore the sensation of a dizzy spell, whether due to perceived motion or prismatic experiments in form and vibrant hues. Despite common misconception, vertigo is not a medical condition. It just feels like you’re moving when you’re not, the world spinning when everything is stationary. Sometimes you can shrug it off, but other times it can be debilitating, preventing you from doing the simplest physical tasks. This sense of imbalance, with the chaos of external stimuli combined with internal turmoil, might just be the perfect description of what we all experience these days, with some fortunate enough to have mere flashes and instances of confusion while others undergo hell on a loop with no chances of escape.
Bitto’s pieces, Network, are inspired by glitches that appear when TV screens or LCD monitors suddenly flicker, visual signals of loose or failing connections inside electronic appliances. What audiences see are glorious combinations of pixelized elements, sharp-edged and with varying sizes. There are blacks and whites, but the blue screen of death always peeks through.
Reminiscent of early MTV digital characters, Lego blocks or Minecraft builds, psychedelic and acid colors combine for a visually stimulating traipse in two dimensionality. When engineers and astronauts say that there is a glitch in the system, they are not simply talking about the Matrix. Signals and synapses create dazzling displays, but there is always an underlying notion that something is inherently broken, and there lies its true beauty. Whether whole or in parts, massed or scattered, they lend a haunting flash of images retained in our heads, and warn us of the possibility of somebody else watching us through glitched screens.
Emard Cañedo’s pieces, however, dwell more on confinement and the rigidity of grids. Titled Vista, the artist presents layer upon layer of a fixed system with not a lot of room to move in. Cubes, image thumbnails, and the square orientation of social media platforms such as an Instagram feed or Facebook album, skyscraper windows, city streets, or memorial park “apartments” might come to mind, but what pervades each piece is the control brought on by straight lines. Stuck inside during lockdown, sometimes our view of the world may only be confined to our windowpanes, or the rectangular screens of our laptops and smartphones.
It is still a colorful world out there, just not a lot of opportunity for daring maneuvers. Each motion can be traced on a line, and everyone must be careful not to step beyond boundaries and borders as authorities wish to give a semblance of order where there is none. With candy-colored gradations of color, the artist effectively captures spectacular projections on the horizon enticing us with freedom.
One wall of the exhibition is dedicated to silkscreen printed paper works, Error, with both artists playing around images made of lines, patterns, patches of markings, shapes and colors inspired by consumerism and bright packaging of goods that serve as eye candy grabbing our attention. Stencils are often misaligned, with no registration markings, serigraphs and layered silkscreen combined processes set off more ways of catching us off balance, with some shapes and elements creating optical illusions that shift as you look.
With conditioning seemingly inseparable from the human experience at birth, especially with the advent of technology, the powerful bent on lording over the masses with absolute power, and us stuck in our rooms and houses because going to open spaces have become high-risk, templates, rules and straight lines abound. The pieces in Vertigo introduce new ways of seeing beyond limitations, pushing us to see lines for what they are, warped, misaligned and all, and taking courage in overstepping boundaries despite statutes in place. With Vertigo comes a feeling of being unbalanced, teetering on uncertainty, but it might not be such a bad place to be. Perhaps this is where best to find ourselves and recalibrate, re-center and map the paths we truly desire to take.
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