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Member Spotlight: Victor F M Torres

Victor F M Torres (b. 1987) is an interdisciplinary and intermedia artist born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. Torres holds an M.F.A in Intermedia and Digital Arts from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) as well as a B.A. in Socio-Cultural Anthropology, from the same university. He is now Adjunct Faculty at Maryland Institute College of Art and teaches Newer Genres in the Interdisciplinary Sculpture Department. Torres has taught Design and New Media courses in multiple institutions such as Stevenson University, George Mason University, and UMBC. Torres is the founder of Vector Voltage Publishing, curator of Lighthole Gallery, and editor of the Lighthole Journal - both in temporary hiatus. Torres’ research on the parameters of foreignness yields work of the most varied forms and plays a central role in his artistic practice. He’s the author of Language Writes Myth Writes Reality: Or How Does the Acculturated Body Take the Role of Culture Maker? Victor Torres is currently working on a book with the working title of ON: An Ethnography of a Non-Existing Civilization.

Torres’ sculptural work snapshots the relationship between information retention, capacitive touch and bronze age aesthetics, thinning the threshold between primitivism and futurism. His work has been shown at the MoMA, BMA, Monmouth Museum, MIX NYC, Maryland Art Place, Grace Exhibition Space, et al. To learn more, visit www.victortorres.art.

1. Tell us a little about your background and your trajectory as an artist/ scholar.

I was brought up in a family that did/does not believe in art as a viable practice. I think nationalistic/totalitarian dictatorships unfortunately have these very deep roots in whom, how, and when art is made. My parents were brought up in a brutal military regime that yielded a myriad of incredibly brilliant artists – Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Pape, Cildo Meireles et al. – who were kept, at all costs, from reaching their own audiences. This art vacuum, which was mostly filled in with subliminal music – a topic for later discussion – affected the way I was brought up to think about art, there’s no question about it. For them fine art was a place for irrelevance; they have a highly critical understanding of fine art because in a way, it was unable to keep them from falling victim to a totalitarian regime. Very unfortunate. Perhaps because of this total lack of artistic license I decided to study Cultural Anthropology as an undergraduate. But really, the deep stuff is in my move to the US. I mean, moving countries is an incredibly traumatic event. All of the sudden – actually within a matter of 15 hours, on a plane – I was in a place where the only two other people whom I knew and spoke my language were my own parents. That feeling is still roaring in me, that complete fear of the unknown, but at the same time an almost adoration for it. That, I’d say, is what really made my decisions. Having no cultural agency, I became enthralled by linguistic games and symbolic charades which, I eventually came to understand, was actually art, the art of someone translating oneself into a new reality.


The Way Mummy Talks: Or, Enculturation Machine, 2015
Intermedia Durational Performance. Shot of the beginning of performance as the artist prepares by cutting off his hair.
Photo: Dan Meyers

 


Acculturation Machine, 2015
Participant interacting while wearing a conductive mask running a 5v current through the participant’s body.
Photo: Dan Meyers

2. What are some of your main influences?

Pre-history. Legos. Pre-Internet encyclopedias. Computer games, especially Age of Empires, Civilization, Sim City, The Sims and all their offspring.

My friends.

Matt Mullican, Johanna Drucker, A.A. Bronson, Joseph Kosuth, Hélio Oiticica, and Guillermo Gomez-Peña are people that I often find myself making a piece for. I like to think that I am making work for them, like maybe writing them a letter or something. It makes me feel like I can truly talk to them.


-EIS - Encyclopedic entry, 45 second video loop

experiment with 3D representations of language.

3. New Media is .......

… a construct that is rather abstract, having the power to evoke so many abysmally different forms of Art at the very moment it is stated. The term is an attempt to periodize or encapsulate Art that privileges idea over any “traditional” or specific medium and is often in conversation with some form of scientific advance, sociological experiment, biological curiosity, or something that is deeply rooted in the now. It is hard to define New Media in one concise sentence and that is what makes it broad and hugely heterogeneous; It’s like a soup with a truck inside.


Please, Touch the Immigrant, 2016
Intermedia Durational Performance.
Participants interacting with touch sensors.
Photo: Hoesy Corona

Intermedia Durational Performance.
Participant interacting with touch sensor and triggering videos and sounds.
Photo: Hoesy Corona

4. What is your typical day like?

I don’t have typical days(?). I am a vastly irregular person. Sometimes it’s a problem, sometimes it’s not. I am driven by epiphanies; those happen while I’m in transit, or waking up, but mostly right before I go to bed, often preventing me from falling asleep; I often have to choose between the two; it hurts. I have one day off, “usually” Sundays. I drink coffee, most days. I work all of the time. Some but hardly-not-all of my days involve some weightlifting; it’s a psychological thing more than physical, although I am much vainer than I’d like to admit. I use this air fryer my grandmother gave me; it’s probably one of the main reasons why I can afford to live in New York, seriously. I dedicate time to meeting and getting to know new people; I crave connection. I always have a hard time falling asleep. Nights are particularly productive for me. It is now exactly 2:10 am.

14’x12’x10’ Computer, projections, capacitive mylar.
Photo: Dan Meyers

5. What are you working on now?

I am currently freelancing and working for a soon-to-premiere feature documentary, so a lot of my time is spent there, video editing and other industry related stuff. The documentary is on Louis Kahn so I am particularly excited about this project.

ON: An Ethnography of a Non-Existing Civilization is an ongoing project. It is really forcing me to think about Cultural Anthropology again.

*Leikw-, 5min video loop, exploration on phoneme historical trajectories

6. Do you have a collaborative idea that you want to get off the ground?

In the absence of mammoth queer art spaces such as the MIX NYC festival and the Spectrum, I feel very compelled to aid in the effort for a fitting response. We are lacking physical politically autonomous spaces that have Art and Artists as their main focus. You can argue they are somewhat incongruent with our current economic modus operandi but that doesn’t mean we must put up with the newly evident vacuum.

We – New Media Artists – need more journals, more platforms, more ways of sharing and talking about our work. We also need to translate these journals to as many languages as possible, so I’d love to participate in an initiative like that. English hegemony over the internet poses a serious threat to thought-diversity much like a diverse genepool is much less susceptible to disease and more likely to adapt to major disturbances.


The Way Mummy Talks: Or, Enculturation Machine, 2015
Intermedia Durational Performance.
Photo: Dan Meyers

MIX NYC Queer Film Festival
Durational Performance
Brooklyn, NY

7. What is the most recent thing you’ve learned?

I’ve been learning a lot of things lately; it’s the main reason why I like to teach; students are brilliant and inspiring. On that note, one of the most important things I’ve learned recently is that punitive academic actions may not help students whose academic problems result from elsewhere; that was an important find.

Another important discovery has more to do with my recent move to New York City and is something like: Success is another broad term that’s more of a state of mind than a prescribed place and it can really look like anything as much as a dungeon is heaven for some.

Representational abstraction, pixelation
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