Reinterpretation of Technology in Electronic Art

Post date: agosto 12, 2020 | Category: Décimo Octava Edición Diciembre 2018

SECCIÓN: Artículo arbitrado.

The experimentation with low-cost materials it has been common in the present and in the history of art, Art Povera is an example, which was a radical artistic movement that emerged in the late sixties and seventies, where the artists explored a wide range of unconventional processes with the use of nontraditional and everyday materials. Art Povera literary means “poor art”, the materials they used were: clay, cloth, tree branches, waste materials, in such a way that challenged and disrupted the values of the gallery system and the commercialization of contemporary art.

Nevertheless, through the essay called Postproduccion from the outstanding theorist Nicolas Bourriaud, we can find evidence that the reutilization of materials is a common pattern in contemporary art, he said, the artistic question it is no longer: What is new that can be done? But rather What can be done with…? Speaking about reuse of materials and ideas also. Bourriaud gave an explanation about why the flea market is so important for current artistic practices: in the first place it is important because it brings a collective experience, the chaotic heap of things derived from different individuals, also because in the organization of a flea market the past takes place and through the flea market people have the chance to avoid the industrial commerce and internet sales, finally at the flea market objects from multiples provenances wait for new uses, as Marcel Duchamp said, this is about giving a new idea to an object.

For now, it is necessary to say that the context where Mexican electronic artist works is complicated. The social, economic and politic conditions add the ingredient of uncertainty to everyday life. These Mexican adverse circumstances such as poverty, inequity, violence, corruption, drug trafficking, among others, often provides ideas to the artists for their work. The use of subjects related to Mexican context is one of the most important characteristics on Mexican electronic art, these subjects of the art produced in Mexico are based on situations and events that arouse in Mexican environment. It is necessary to say, that most of the time only a Mexican or people involved in Mexican culture can completely understand all the implications and cultural meanings of these pieces; example of that are these works of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (international artist who born in Mexico City): “Voz Alta”, 2008, piece related to the murders committed by the government in 1968, –for more than thirty years it was forbidden in media talk about this issue; “Level of Confidence”, 2015, about the tragic disappearance of 43 students in Ayotzinapa, Mexico in 2014 –to this day, no one knows for sure what happen to them; “Displaced Emperors”, 1997, projects the Aztec head-dress of Moctezuma in the facade of the Museum für Völkerkunde in Vienna where the head-dress is kept against the will of Mexicans.

In addition to that, Mexican electronic artists that produces in Mexico shows another reality –Rafael Lozano-Hemmer it’s a Mexican artist creating in other countries like Spain or Canada with the support of those countries-. In Mexico the elaboration phase of the production processes might be different. According to the interviews made to electronic artists for this research, there is a small group of artists that produced frequently supported with government grants or other type of economic resources. Nevertheless, there are artists that find ideas in difficult conditions, that means artists adapts their production processes to the existing resources, been capable to produce with very few materials. This research focus on those artistic work to study Mexican electronic art, because it is more emphatic with the existing and general situation.

Moreover, this research focus on electronic Art works from the last decade of the XX century and the first decade of XXI century. The research process consists in explore and describe then generate theory perspectives, as a research strategy we used direct interview with electronic artists through diverse media, like telephone, cellphone, email, video conference, etcetera, even the personal visit to art studios, or attending to art exhibits and presentations to meet the artists.

Mexican Electronic Art, cases of study

Ataraxia, by Edmar Soria and τέκτων_{*}.debug() Collective

This artistic development is a electro acoustic piece conformed with assembled multi percussions, electronics and video. According to Edmar Soria, the piece is a constant sound recycling of audible elements that function as an antiphony with the use of sound. Instruments were constructed and assembled from different materials and are used in order to establish a specific range, its spatiality is captured in a virtual way within a multi array system of microphones, the result is a combination of digital and physical resources.

The work was presented on the celebration of the “50th Anniversary of the Leonardo magazine” held in Mexico City on April 19, 2018. The sound artist Edmar Olivares Soria and τέκτων _ {*. Debug () [sic.] Collective, presented “Ataraxia”. The project was directed by Maestro Edmar Olivares and constituted an interesting sound exploration from recycled materials, where they experimented with many reuse materials such as chilies cans, nails, wood, computer parts, metal parts, strings and other resources. In interview Edmar Soria said:

«… each piece is cut in different ways, some are perforated to explore different sounds, for example, harmonics […] we design instruments in order to have certain resonances and we design other instruments like this little zither [points to a PC case with strings]. The idea is to use recycled and industrial materials to build structures that resonate… the main exploration is from physical space. How to place these sounds in space? How to spatialize them? But not only that, according to the sound characteristics each element must have a special position in the space, so that instruments do not ‘get stuck’ with each other, but at the same time it is possible to distinguish all the layers of sound that are happening.”[1]

The artist and teacher Edmar Olivares mentioned that the project was only an artistic sound exploration of the concept of resonance through splicing resonance and space. The project is an implementation of scientific and technological knowledge applied to the development of instruments constructed in a creative way with recycled materials.


Fig.1. Ataraxia, (2018) Edmar Olivares Soria and τέκτων_{*}.debug() Collective, students of UAM Lerma, Performance on April 19, 2017, “50th Aniversary of Leonardo Magazine”, Cultural Center Casa del Tiempo, Mexico City.


The invisibility of the urban marginalized, by Juanita del Carmen Mendoza Ornelas

The work done by Juanita del Carmen Mendoza Ornelas is a real-time projection and simulation of the interactive interpreter that was carried out in September 2017 at Guanajuato University, campus Irapuato-Salamanca.

This artistic work deals with the concept of invisibility, the one that unfolds in the context of social processes. The scope of invisibility that is pointed out in this piece refers to the exclusion of individuals inserted in complex sociopolitical and economic structures inside a third world city. This work shows the social structures where the human presence seems to vanish or does not exist, in this cultures there is domination from one group to other groups. What the artist wants to show is the relationship between poor, media class and rich people, where the richest ones ignore the existence of the others, the artist Juanita Mendoza opens a dialogue and invites the audience to make a sincere reflection on this social issue. The fundamentals of this artistic installation are in the Latin American Philosophy of Liberation developed by philosophers, theologians and anthropologists like Juan Carlos Scannone, Enrique Dussel and Rodolfo Kusch,

It is important for Latin America bring this issues to art because through this action, audiences can speak about it and deep thoughts can emerge, that could be the beginning of a solution. Juanita Mendoza looks for social equality between the different actors that interact in a society, the discrimination is a situation that exists in the present days and through the times due to Spanish concord of Mexico in 1519. 

The installation consists of a montage of several spaces, one perceptually within the other, as the rhetorical figure of the abyss, it is dynamic for the viewer, where the concept of marginality prevails the multimedia interaction. In the installation appear two spaces where two different social conditions are visualized, in the first one the issue of differentiation and exclusion is addressed, it represents a panorama of a marginal society within a city, there are pictorial allusions, figurative projections, in the second space there is the representation of a cabin that symbolizes the fragility of the division into classes and different social strata which coexist.


Fig.2. Juanita del Carmen Mendoza Ornelas, “The invisibility of the urban marginalized” (2017), projection, installation, real-time simulation.



Electronic art in Mexico has gone through different phases, which have helped to strengthen it in the national artistic scene, even though there have been different artistic works with the use of electronics, electronic art does not have a preeminent place in Mexican art. Throughout the last decades there have been different forums where electronic art has had spaces for its exhibition, such as the Alameda Art Laboratory; the CECUT Tijuana Cultural Center; the Center for Art and New Technologies, CANTE in San Luis Potosí (the area of ​​new technologies does not exist anymore); the Carrillo Gil Museum; the Multimedia Center of the National Center for the Arts; the Cyberlounge of the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo (now disappeared); among other spaces most located in Mexico City, all of which brings with it that electronic art is not completely known by the audiences that attend to museums and galleries. A positive thing is that not all electronic artists like to exhibit in galleries or museums, they exhibit directly in public spaces, seeking in this way to reach the majorities, through these practices they also seek to return public spaces to citizens, nowadays most of the public spaces in cities have been occupied by companies and institutions; example of this type of works are Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and Iván Abreu public works. However, the advance in the knowledge of electronic art in Mexico advances at a slow pace, while in other countries it is well entrenched and even have spaces for the development of work like: «Media Lab Prado» in Madrid, «Laboluz» in Valencia both in Spain; «Ars Electronica» in Linz, Austria; «SymbioticA» in Pert, Australia; the other side of the coin is in Latin American countries where the spaces for project development operate with limited resources and sometimes, the lucky ones, with grants, such as «Platohedro» in Medellín, Colombia or in Mexico City an autonomous place in San Rafael area called «Crater Invertido».



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Electronic Resources

Gilberto Esparza, “Parásitos Urbanos”,, consultado en enero de 2015.

Iván Abreu., 2012. Consulta: agosto 2018.

La autora, “13 entrevistas a artistas”, vimeo:

WMMNA. Gambiologia, the Brazilian art and science of kludging. Query: September 10, 2018.


[1] Interview Edmar Olivares in The Centro Cultural Casa del Tiempo, Mexico City.