An approach to landscape in the work of Enrique Radigales.

The Aragonese artist takes part in DATAscape with his pieces. One of them, Tótem Evanescente, has been produced during his residency at LABoral.

Published: Mar 31, 2014

By Montaña Hurtado (@zapatosrosas), Zapatos Rosas

How many hexadecimal colours are there in a landscape? This question that, most probably none of us has asked ourselves so far, is posed by Enrique Radigales in the video “El barro y la paja”, a project curated by Luisa Fuentes Guaza as part of the cycle “Diálogos autónomos” at La Casa Encendida.

El barro y la paja” starts to develop after several trips to Pericastó, a place he discovered in November which used to belong to his family. Pericastó is, for Enrique Radigales, the “anti-workshop”, a two-hectare rainfed land located in Huesca, where his attraction for landscape is concentrated and summarised. Pericastó is also the landscape that Radigales in his work “Primer Diagnóstico Taxonómico”, included in the exhibition Datascape at LABoral.

But, How do you digitalise a landscape?

In the case of Pericastó, Enrique Radigales has measured the contour in pixels and has taken digital photographs from where he has obtained the hexadecimal colours. He also explains that he always takes the photographs from the same place. But, like in any metrical translation, he warns us that in his digitalisation there is a margin of error, an error with which, he reminds us, digital art of the 1990’s played. Before going on, we must stop and point out that Radigales’ work is not aimed at making a translation with IT techniques, but rather a landscape in the computer domain, and this means that not all the practice of Radigales can be strictly considered as New Media. Apart from any adjectives, the artist himself defines his work as “unplugged digital art”.

Primer Diagnóstico Taxonómico. 2014

When I ask him about his relationship with technology and the fact that many of his pieces, in addition to having a physical format, exist with their own identity in the digital world, Radigales answers that this is because his generation has been obsessed with technology, a generation that will undergo one of the most “brutal, painful and impressive” adaptations the world has seen: learning a new language for communication and a new way of working.

This obsession for technology, that in his view does not affect digital natives, is likely to be what makes him look at the landscape through different eyes, with a digital way of looking, that makes him want to extract the hexadecimal colours of a landscape or digitalise it, as we have explained before, but also to interpret what we see through the window of our computer as a new way to see the world and to discover new landscapes, that vary depending on our work environment, our software. Through the window of our computer we get familiar with environments that may be more or less hostile, depending on the degree of hostility generated by our software, just like when we are children we get familiar with our environment.

Another question that concerns Enrique Radigales in his work is trying to explain how does the erosion of landscape in general and of some natural elements in particular take place. And the digital world and his computer screen are great tools to explain it, because digital files, including the works of, also erode. His project </open seed> (2007) deals with this erosion of the code, which consists of seeing how a fragment of html code written with seeds dissapear as the landscape advances.

Projects like Souvenir (2013) derive from an intentional erosion of digital files in his computer. And this erosion is accomplished simply by throwing a file into the recycle bin, and then emptying it. The file has apparently disappeared from our computer, but it still uses space in the hard drive. The subsequent activity that we have in the computer, generating new files, will result in the occupation of new blocks of space, but also the blocks of space corresponding to the deleted files. The time and the activity generated will impact the degree of degradation of the deleted files, which the artist brings into the light with a recovery software, not in their original format, but rather like what he defines as “digital ruins”.

This concept of erosion and degradation of the natural landscape exists also in projects such as Tótem Evanescente, also showcased at Datascape and produced during a residency at LABoral. In this work, commented by Luis Calderón in a previous post, the artist explains: “We associate the degradation of the environment with solid fuels and factories but, What is the cost of developing an app or an operative system? Behind the zeros and ones, behind intangibility, there are natural resources that wear off”.

Totem Evanescente from Plug&Pray on Vimeo.

The speed around us is in contrast with the production cycles of the natural environment and especially with those of a rainfed land like Pericastó, but in occasions we forget that nature is, like the digital environment, continually updated. Regarding this, he quotes Serge Latousche and his theory of growth and explains that social development is linked, necessarily, to a natural deterioration and he warns us that we cannot keep this production pace.

Environmental awareness, in his opinion, “is not an option: it is a need”.

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