Solo show by Juan Pablo Medina
Los 14 Art Gallery, Mexico City, May 2019.
This exhibition has been articulated from a crossover between the conventions of photographic representation and the attributes of a perspective that we can identify as vertical. This is a product of airspace incursions by remote machines that use integrated cameras as their main tool. It encompasses a wide range of tools ranging from the drones used for mere entertainment to the satellite used for weather monitoring.
Indeed, that vision exceeds the field of photographic tradition, but it is nurtured by it in order to provide comprehensive representations that end up being reinserted in a critical interpretation of the image from a strategy of artistic integration. Juan Pablo Medina’s work (Jalisco, 1984) presents the artist as an operator of relatively new visual fields, which participate in the process of expansion of the photographic canon.
Medina develops his work by exploring both the possibilities of remote observation and the inappropriate nature of cell phone cameras. In addition, he collects, reinterprets and reorganizes a seemingly arbitrary selection of visual material that circulates uninterruptedly through the Internet to underline the state of constant surveillance in which we find ourselves. The merging of "original" images (that is, we know who and why they were produced) and "recycled" images (low resolution, relatively free access and anonymous or automatic production to meet different needs) underlines the critical state of current visual production in art.
In the case of the drone, the featured examples either surrender to magnificence or seek to escape the operational restrictions imposed by air traffic authorities and military intelligence.
By breaking the expectation of the 'apparatus' program (Flusser), Medina puts remote viewing into question in terms of what is expected to be seen and projected to the comfort of our screens. This is seen in two of his works: ‘Membranas’ (Membranes) and ‘Cartas de navegación’ (Navigational Charts).
In the first work, the artist collects the immediate moments of the acknowledgement of the flying machine by those who know they are being observed. A fleeting interaction takes place, which includes everything from people greeting (with which it is confirmed that the device is a visual mediator and that someone exists, and is operating and observing through it) to people trying to cover their faces in the presence of the drone.
In the second project, vertical vision and the use of monochromatic fields cancel out the qualities of aerial vision by impeding successful territorial identification and an imprecise scale of the shot. While the result is formally cohesive, it reveals the ease with which the drone program can be sabotaged as a tool of total vision.
The zenithal gaze also organizes the triptych in: ‘En una línea el mundo se une, con una línea el mundo se divide’ ('In one line the world is united, with one line the world is divided'). In each of the three videos, the potential for surveillance is displaced in favor of a more contemplative gaze that constitutes a document during its observation. What has been registered are actions in space that use the straight line as a resource to alter the landscape, which is a stable element of the territory that is affected by a walk or as a mark that is integrated to the urban movements in spite of its unexpected condition.
In the installation artwork: ‘Este mundo, tal como lo vemos, está sucediendo’ ('This world, as we see it, is happening') he insists in an undefined view, meaning, it does not constitute a narrative, not even a description, but its fragments have in common that they are random shots made by webcams in the exteriors and interiors of different places in the world. The unifying element is the surveillance function associated with digital cameras, which is interrupted because none of them contain any relevant event, but edited together they reveal the tension associated with the vigilant gaze that sifts through spaces in search of an event that breaks precisely the routine or "normal" behavior of a group in public space.
This selection of recent works ends with the editorial proposal ‘El vuelo de la polilla’ (‘The Flight of the Moth’), which has been adapted for presentation as part of a museum tour. In this space, Medina weaves his poems with the photos taken with his cell phone in various motel rooms, just after its tenants have vacated them. Remnants, apparently explicit, of what happened in a transient intimacy, almost all the images chosen for the exhibition are high-angle shots or low-angle shots that describe the interior of each room and extend its scale to dimensions that are almost impossible to grasp with a single glance. This is due to the angles chosen for the shots, which focus on the corner and fragment, a resource to dislocate the architectural approach and slide a vision resembling the police coverage of a crime scene.
Irving Domínguez, exhibition curator
Mexico City, May 2019