February 2, 2009

Erik Guzman at Front Room | Review by David Gibson

Every artist these days has more than a simple aesthetic, they have their own mythology to promulgate. It’s as if they want to present their art work not only as an example of their creative qualifications, but to manifest elements across the spectrum of their artistic history as individuals. The determination of quality being highly subjective, we are required to engage ourselves with the work on hand to such a degree that its mythos becomes evident.

In the drawings and sculptures of Erik Guzman, we are presented with work which depends upon, and in some cases actually produces, a light source. Think of the light bulb going off in the thought balloon of a cartoon character. Other sources of light are less allegorical but no less mimetic, such as the sun pacing its track across the sky, developing a notion of transience and duration even as it falls prey to the same immutable forces. The sense of alarm, an interruption of daily life to manifest a sense of eventfulness, is the paramount element in any of these circumstances. Light as controlled by man often has an illuminating (sic) aspect which its natural origin does not. Guzman’s sculptures and bas-relief drawings are unique in my experience of art. They seem to have emerged out of the genre of Science Fiction, specifically one in which hieroglyphics and celestial machines both have a place. I can see references to films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Tron, and The Terminator. Yet I also relate them to Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz and Frank Herbert’s Dune. Each of these works of literature or film, and the narrative subgenres to which they belong, presents us with a highly mythologized view of reality.

What Guzman’s work shares with them is his love of the opaque and the mysterious. In Clarke’s (and later Kubrick’s) masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey, we are given an alternate timeline to history in which an ominous presence, floating on the edges of humanity’s experience since the days of the caveman, makes itself known. The monolith object operates as a sort of cenotaph on man’s road into the future, marking a flashpoint at which a certain detour must be observed, in order that at least one destination be reserved for persons other than mankind. On the way to this moment, a series of transformations take place through which we are made to feel overwhelmed by transcendent powers. But what takes precedence in the perception of such events is also evident in Guzman’s work: an understanding of manifest visual conditions that overwhelm logic. The mythology evident in Guzman’s oeuvre takes two routes: the narrative of epics and the mystery of symbols. One may choose either route from which to find meaning. The narratives are oblique yet dynamic, and are etched in horizontal glass panes which sit on little ledges hung on the gallery walls to the left of the first room, and on the right are a set of hanging structures which are illuminated from within but seem to have the glass panes suspended behind cloth strips, so that light passing through them creates a subtle shadow resembling a watermark. The specific markings in the glass panes are oblique to say the least, and feature epic scaled sites which house events of metaphysical or spiritual grandeur: what appears to be either an endless building or a road stretching to infinity, interrupted by a swarm or infestation of small flowing creatures which seem vaguely elemental, as they are accompanied by glowing stars and seem to appear out of a rift in space. A more common figure is the silhouette of a man’s form, just his upper torso and head, with light emanating from him as he travels through a series of labyrinthine spaces toward a grand godlike figure whose own silhouette seems to merge with the fabric of reality, becoming less present while at the same time all-powerful. Guzman’s sculptures, which are installed together in a second room, are arranged so that the physical space needed for each, and its own projecting light, does not interfere with the others. As one walks around the room one discovers that the programmed movements of each is generated by a motion dictator, as if we were interlopers in a strange crypt. The machines themselves seem to be fashioned from a combination of metal and ceramic material, and they utilize a lot of open space, with portals in the surface so that one can look into the machine as it operates its specific and oblique function. All the metal parts are shiny and gleam in the aura of their own illumination. Approach one machine and the moving part arcs back and forth, with a light inside of it flashing on and off with a dreamy regularity that is almost serpentine. Another starts revolving very quickly, while another seems to fold up into itself, like an armadillo. The intermingling of a passive mythological element with the dynamic cultural content of wireless entertainment most commonly used in video games but having implications far beyond them is what gives Guzman’s work its rigor. We have always looked to machines for knowledge. The difference between actual machines such as the microwave and the Walkman, and imaginary ones such as jet-packs and laser guns, is often a matter of degree. Each of them extends the reach of what man can do. One of the implications of such far-reaching ability is that it will begin to resemble godlike proportion. The machines in Erik Guzman’s art are like a new species, making the first uncertain gestures into existence, instinctually marking space and extending the range of metaphor for how we see ourselves. Perhaps God is nothing more than a well-designed machine. If so, Guzman helps us to see the light.

Front Room goes to Berlin, Bridge Art Fair Berlin 2008. by dante2

VERNISSAGE, TV. the window to the art world. The latest addition to Berlin’s art fair landscape is Bridge, a fair that is already present in London, Miami and New York. In Berlin, the fair is located in an apartment complex in Schönhauser Allee 5 in Berlin Mitte. Most exhibitors come from the US like the Brooklyn-based Front Room Gallery which presents the kinetic sculptureWho made Who” by Erik S. Guzman. Among the exhibitors and projects are also Collectiva, Häppi Töle, and Momus, who will be presenting the result of his rice experiment this Sunday at 5pm (interview with Momus coming soon).vernissage_bridge_berlin_08.jpg

Sirena de Huracanes, Hurricane Siren by dante2

Sirena de huracanes: propuesta de maqueta del proyecto a escala 1/3.Localización: Museo de arte de Caquas, Caquas PR. Colección permanente.

Descripción: escultura cinética con rueda giratoria luminosa de material reflectante. La rueda se haya parcialmente insertada sobre una cubierta semiesférica reflectante colocada dentro del muro de exhibición. La intensidad de la luz y velocidad de rotación de la rueda incrementa con la proximidad de la tormenta.

La maqueta/ prototipo Hurricane Siren/ Sirena de Huracanes es una propuesta de proyecto para el Museo de Arte de Caguas, mi ciudad de nacimiento. a pesar de mi marcha de Puerto Rico a una temprana edad siento ahora un gran interés por mi país de origen.

La investigación realizada para este proyecto sobre los orígenes de la ciudad de Caguas me encamino hacia los indios Taino. La naturaleza ocupa un importante lugar en la religión local. Al ser una isla, los huracanes y temporales cobran una especial importancia. La naturaleza se haya en el centro de la cultura local. Guabancex, la diosa de las tormentas, atrajo especialmente mi interés. el proyecto Hurricane Siren/ Sirena de Huracanes hace referencia al faro que la diosa dejo en la tierra para avisar a los habitantes de la isla de la proximidad de las tormentas.

La escultura cinética estará en constante movimiento. Cuando una tormenta se aproxime la velocidad e intensidad de la luz incrementaran. Constituirá una señal de aviso, una sirena, que informara a los visitantes de lo que les depara la naturaleza.  La escultura estará conectada a Internet para recibir los datos meteorológicos que dictaran su comportamiento. El proyecto hace uso de la tecnología moderna para reconectarse con la naturaleza. Por favor, clica en la siguiente imagen para reproducir el video del proyecto.

Hurricane Siren: Sirena de Huracanes, Hurricane Siren model, 1/3 working scale. Proposed location: Museo de Arte de Caquas, Caquas PR. For the permanent collections Description: Kinetic sculptural object that has a reflective rotating wheel of light. The wheel is mounted to the wall via a curved reflective shell. As a storm approaches, the light and speed of the piece will increase.

Hurricane Beacon / Faro de Huracán prototype proposal is for the Museo de Arte de Caguas. Caguas was where I was born. Even though I left Puerto Rico at a early age I am curious about where I came from. I started to do research about the origins of the city which led me to the Taino indians. In their religion nature seemed very important and being on an island hurricanes and heavy rains were of major concerns. Nature was the center of the culture. Guabancex, goddess of storms particularly interested me. The proposed project, Faro de Huracán, represents her beacon that she left on this earth to tell the people of the island that a storm is coming. The kinetic sculpture will consistently rotate and when a storm approaches the light and movement will increase. It will be a beacon telling what nature has in store for the viewers. The project uses internet access to the collect the information needed to govern the sculpture. It uses modern technology to connect back to nature.

Click on Image below to see MOVIE.





The Begining of Icarus by dante2

Like most human I have always been interested in birds. Even birds that did not fly like the poor kiwi. I am more interested in the mechanics of the wing then flight it self. Do not get me wrong, I am still amazed when I am in the air for 14 hours.  But, the mechanics are extremely complex and amazingly strong and when they are working they seem simple.

Past projects have dealt with elements of rotating arms or discs with light around them moving at different speeds and orientations. With this project I wanted to get a little distance from those type of projects. When making complicated mechanical pieces it is hard to change directions.  You end up generated one piece based on the previous piece.

I was taking pictures of birds on the edge of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and I noticed that all this complicated bioengineering disappeared when you saw the birds silhouette against the blue sky. The birds body and wings became a negative pattern punched into the crystal blue sky. The dance between what is positive and negative is what led me to the mechanics. The need to know how to make something that can generate something unattainable, light and the lack of it. Wings seemed like a perfect devise to project the unattainable.


With all this higher use of my limited gray matter made me think about Greek myths. The story of Icarus came to mind. Out of need to escape Crete, his father made wings for both of them to escape. Over come by the feeling of flight he attempting to obtain something that was not his to have. As we all know he crashed into the sea.

After thinking about all this I started to make some basic drawings for the project called, Icarus. Icarus will be a fully articulating set of wings made from glass with a rotating light source in the middle. At this point, I am not sure that I can make something this complex simple but what is generated will hopefully be interesting never the less.