Last 9th December I had the chance to meet David Quiles Guilló, artist, curator, producer, and creator of some very innovative online, offline, digital, and analog gathering places, events, groups and labels for artistic promotion and production. David was in Linz for the Sankt Interface Day 2015, event organized by Interface Cultures and Enrique Tomas to celebrate the anniversary of “The Mother of All Demos”, Douglas Engelbart’s computer demonstration of December 9, 1968.
During the evening, among the several presentations, competitions, performances and concerts, David Quiles Guilló presented his last project, The Wrong! Digital Art Biennale, open from 1st November 2015 to 31st January 2016 at the web address thewrong.org. Afterwards I could chat with him about a few aspects of his practice … so here the interview.
The Wrong Digital Art Bienniale and many other projects of yours show the hybrid of your role as curator, artist and producer, or cultural entrepreneur as you define yourself in some other interview … how you live this two polarities on your work? Do you feel a clear separation between them or it is more a blurry area between two more clear pools of activities?
As you mention, I have become kind of a cultural hybrid, as I assume many roles in order to make my projects happen, so I try to establish limits between the roles to try and make it work. This said, I prefer to define myself with whatever words people use to define me, and yes, I wish I could choose the words!
I can tell you about what I see regarding other people’s process, but I don’t know if I see it so clearly when regarding my own process. I think there are very good artists with a very good taste that develop their own languages as artist, and then they can create parallel languages using also other artist’s works. This happens for example with Robert Seidel [present in The Wrong! Biennale with Cristallized Skins pavilion]: Robert is an amazing artist and he has very specific ways of telling things; then he brought his own language a step forward, and started curating. I cannot choose what I like from him the best, because I like both of his works, the artist, and the curator. Regarding myself, I try not to think I curate anything. I am not a curator, as I take in so many other roles simultaneously.
Let’s say: if the artist has the authorship on his works, the curator has no authorship on anything. Now. But it’s wrong. It’s like saying that Google, because it does the search, is not the author of the displayed content. Which is for sure a lie, because the algorithm of Google is the best-ever-written code that we know, right? So the missing step for curators to be considered artists in their own right, is the recognition from the artistic community that what they are doing; which is getting pieces together to create some sort of message, or storytelling, or thematic purpose, is also an art form. But what happens when the curator also acts as a format maker, as a producer, even as an artist participating and/or directing the format he created? I think art is in a new evolution stage, and this evolution is already bringing many changes to how the new generation of artists is approaching the art making.
What I mean talking about your “neither–nor position” in the Wrong is that you are somewhere in the middle between artists and audience and you can either interface with their two worlds. And you do something that is not a complete piece of art in itself is not a pure exhibition in a gallery, is something more, which is both and none of those two categories.
This evolution in art is starting to create new situations where the work process is considered part of the art experience too. I like the “neither-nor position” you mention. I am breathing in what is happening now, I don’t think anything I show is new to you, guys. There are no new ideas here. I don’t allow myself to take the ego-position of me being the ruler of the Wrong. Because it makes no sense, The Wrong is not only me: I have just done a few basic things to allow people to come and play with me, but nothing would happen if my invitation to play was not interesting. I am the owner of the ball, but in order to have a match, everyone has to join and play the game.
I noticed in your presentation that you used quite often the word “formats”, making me think about digital art in the language of file formats. How does art expand itself trough new (and in this case digital) formats like The Wrong! to answer to its own necessities?
I don’t know any other way to call it, I always try to use words that people can understand, when I am explaining my projects or ideas. I think the new media, internet, all the overwhelming connectivity helps spread ideas faster, wider, easier, with lower costs in the economic but also the human side. It makes art run faster. Surely there are certain formats of art that do not need the speed the contemporary world is forcing us to run at, but there are other formats of art that benefit from it, or that are born in it. So much ahead of us is still to happen. Amazing times we got to live in.
Why the Wrong?
Think of the digital artists, which make work that is instantly copiable, easily transmittable, and in many situations, as the work are displayed (in many cases) in the internet, if you can see it, you can download it into your device, making it hard to sell because it goes against the “original” values of art selling, of the art business. In my opinion, a gif artwork that has been seen 100M times online should be worth millions… at least this is the theory behind many of the most famous paintings, the more they were reproduced in text books, in catalogues, in magazines, in tea cups, the more the original was worth. In this case the original has the value of its views, which surely will increase with time.
The classical curators don’t have interest in meeting digital artists because they cannot find (yet) an economical value to their works, unless the digital artist agrees to generate digital pieces that fit into the “original rules” to be able to sell an artwork to a collector. They don’t fit in the canonic gallery space, the economic process of art selling, and that’s why they are so difficult to sell and promote, and curators in general are afraid of approaching them. For them even meeting with artists is a loss of time, because they wouldn’t know what to do with the works.
For many years, their formats have been referred to by these curators as “Wrong” and this is the reason for the birth and the name of the Biennale, which hopefully will help improve the status and understanding of the digital art in both collector’s, curator’s and public’s minds.
How do you structure the event to host all the wrong works?
Well, I always wanted to create a platform where artists would gather and exchange ideas. It is a constant in all my projects, like ROJO, NOVA Contemporary Culture, Abstract Editions, Nosordo …
In the first edition of the Wrong Biennale I selected a few curators which led me to other curators, that then selected the artists for the pavilions. I had this idea of having an ongoing open pavilion, so an artist wanting to participate would never feel left behind, so artists could submit their works and still be selected to participate in The Wrong.
For the second edition I invited curators of the first edition to nominate their successor, but the invitation happened not to be very popular, so I made a general call for curators to propose new pavilion projects.
So The Wrong became a kind of container built up on open calls to curators, embassies and artists to participate and collaborate. And through this format also other artists and curators are then stimulated to produce something that could fit.
I collected all those different groups of people, things that don’t fit in the gallery, the glitch art people, the digital aesthetics, the ones more into net.art, the post internet art, the gif makers and the many others, and for all of them I built a temporary meeting point that was not available yet.
The Wrong is hopefully pushing forward some outdated boundaries in the production of events and in the art exhibiting world: I try to keep everything very open. I guess all this energy and material could have led to something else, maybe to be re-worked in any other ways. I wonder when it will happen, but so far nobody has proposed to produce an artwork based on all the materials of Wrong Biennale yet.
After some time of inactivity you are going to release a new issue of the ROJO magazine, another platform you created to gather people and host projects of different artists. You are going back to the printed medium after quite some experience in running digital and virtual formats with the Wrong: will this influence the new ROJO?
In the next edition of ROJO I will bring with me all the experiences on the different formats I did through the other projects. Going back there, I can say that now I know what it means to print, in terms of trees and so on. Not that before I didn’t know, but now is more clear in my mind what does the production of one edition of the printed magazine mean. I will try to find some new solutions, combining digital and printed issues in a format of print-on-demand, or a multiverse variation of different formats. I am still working on it.
But one thing for sure, as I did in the Wrong and in all my other past projects, I will be gathering stuff from different writers and producers, putting together things that may make sense (or not) and present them as they are. I want to “print” something that gets an additional value for being printed, using of course many different formats. Not all the printable ones, again, but integrating what has been done in the multi-media and multi-language experience of the Wrong, and bring it back. It sounds confusing now, but hopefully I will be able to make it happen and when is ready it will make more sense.
I want ROJO to have a sort of basic code that as many people as possible can understand. Let’s say, if you have a text in Russian with some pictures, all people that do not know russian wouldn’t even take the time of looking at the photos, as they will think they will not understand them, because they do not speak the language of the text. Like they will be missing something. So I will go for some plain text, in a plain English, with some kind of tags. Everyone understands simple words as “stop” “start” “exit”… but I am still developing it, I don’t want to say too much: the release will be end of March, that means the issue has to be ready in February … so, yes I need to spend the next few weeks time thinking more about it as time is running out.
Thank you David, and good luck for your next release!
Interface Culture’s pavilion at The Wrong! Interface Change Cultures was curated by Cesar Escudero Andaluz and involved projects of Interface Culture’s students (me as well). You can visit it, as thewrong.org, until the end of this month, January 2016.