Bay Area video artist Jesus Aguilar is exploring the intersection between language and technology. Drawing his inspiration simultaneously from video artist pioneers of the 1970s and the Internet, Aguilar is developing an artistic process that examines communication in the 21st century. Spark visits Aguilar at the Headlands Center for the Arts, where the young artist talks about some of his latest projects.
Much of Aguilar’s work explores how we interface with information via computers and the Internet. Several pieces in “No Entropy,” Aguilar’s solo show at the Stephen Wirtz Gallery in San Francisco, overlay multiple modes of communication to unveil the conditions of our experience of information in the digital age.
In “Dante’s Inferno in 8 Minutes 34 Seconds,” the entire text of the epic poem scrolls by in just over eight-and-a-half minutes, at a rate impossible to register not only by the viewer, but also by the camera that captures the transmission. The piece, along with the similarly crafted “The Odyssey of Homer in 8 Minutes 44 Seconds,” represents both the fleeting nature and the omnipresence of information in a world in which all accumulated human endeavor is subjected to the same process of coding.
In “ABC, 123,” Aguilar overlays two registers of communication. The video shows Aguilar’s finger carefully impressing letters and numbers on a computer screen and the liquid crystal display’s momentary retention of a trace of the artist’s actions. The artist’s hand and the digital medium create an interaction that is all the more poignant for the tension it creates.
Even as these experiments with digital media and the transmission of information speak of the present digital age, for Aguilar they also hearken back to the 1960s and 1970s, when artists like Joan Jonas and Nam June Paik were wrestling with the technology of video, which held the promise of making everyone not only a consumer of televisual technology, but also a producer. As did the generation of artists that came before him, Aguilar uses his work to come to grips with a fundamental shift in the way we experience and interact with the ever-changing terms of the world around us.
Jesus Aguilar was born in San Lucas de O’Campo, Durango, Mexico, and currently lives in San Jose. In 1999, he graduated from San Jose State University with a B.F.A. and subsequently earned an M.F.A. in video, multimedia and photography from Mills College. In 2006, he received the M.F.A. Studio Residency Award from the Headlands Center for the Arts and the Herringer Prize for Excellence in Studio Art.
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